What is Carbohydrate Counting?
Carbohydrate Counting is a meal planning tool for people who have Type 1 or Type 2 Diabetes. It involves keeping track of the amount of carbohydrates in the foods you eat each day.
Which Foods Contain Carbohydrates?
A majority of foods in our diet contains carbohydrates.
These foods include:
Grains: bread, pasta, noodles, rice, quinoa, cereals, and crackers
Fruits: pineapple, apples, melons, berries, bananas and oranges
Dairy: milk and yogurt - especially the sweetened ones
Legumes: lentils, beans, and peas
Snack Foods and Sweets: cakes, cookies, candy, and other desserts
Juices and Soft Drinks: apple juice, orange juice, soda, sports drinks, etc.
Vegetables: starchy vegetables are especially high in carbohydrates such as potatoes, corns and peas
Foods that do not contain carbohydrates include: meat, fish and poultry, most cheeses, nuts, oils and other types of fats (ex. butter) & non-starchy vegetables.
Starch vs. Non-Starchy Vegetables
Starchy vegetables typically have more carbohydrates per serving than non-starchy vegetables.
Non-starchy vegetables are lower in carbohydrates. Here are some examples:
Green: asparagus, broccoli, green beans, green peppers, zucchini, sugar snap pea, brussel sprouts, celery
Red/Orange: red or orange peppers, tomatoes, turnips, carrots
Pink/Purple: turnips, eggplant, radishes
White/Yellow/Brown: jicama, water chestnuts, cauliflower, spaghetti squash, mushrooms, yellow pepper
High Fiber (includes foods from list above): broccoli, zucchini, asparagus, green beans, peppers (all colors)
How to Count Carbohydrates
Start by looking at the nutrition labels! You are able to find out how many carbohydrates are in a product by checking the nutrition labels on food packages. If it is fresh produce such as fruits or vegetables, the carbohydrate content can be found online using calorie counters, such as Cronometer and MyFitnessPal, or through a Google search.
For example, if a nutrition label states that the serving size is one cup (228g), and the carbohydrates for that serving are 31 grams, that means there are 31 grams per one cup serving of that food.
If you decide to have two servings instead of one, then multiply that number (31 grams) by two. This would give you a total of 62 grams of carbohydrates.
A dietitian can help you determine your carbohydrate goals for each meal. These can vary based on your calorie needs and medication usage.
Benefits of Carbohydrate Counting
Overall, carbohydrate counting is a flexible tool that can help you maintain normal blood glucose levels, and it will help you manage your diabetes properly to prevent complications such as kidney disease, blindness, nerve damage, and blood vessel disease. As an added benefit, carbohydrate counting can help you feel better and more energetic throughout the day.
How can you tell if this method is working for you?
Check your glucose levels
Get an A1c Test at least twice a year
If your glucose levels end up being high it is recommended that you consult with a dietitian or a doctor to adjust your meal plan and diet.