Alyssa's Journey with Type 1 Diabetes

An outlet, a diary of sorts, a place for thoughts, a place to connect,
an expression of feelings about Juvenile Diabetes......

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Carb Counting Basics

I know I have written several posts about carb counting, but because diet is probably the most important aspect of managing diabetes, I don't think it can be covered too much.  Understanding carbohydrates helps determine which foods affect blood sugar and how much insulin should be given for the food eaten.

The 3 main nutrients in food: proteins, fats, and carbohydrates all affect blood sugar levels; however carbohydrates is the main effector.  After carbs are eaten and digested, they become glucose and enter the bloodstream.  This causes blood sugars to rise and insulin is required to move the sugar into the cells for energy.  Some might think that carbs are bad; but in reality, they are the body's main source of fuel.

Foods that contain carbs are: starches (Breads, starchy veggies), fruits, milk products, and sweets.

Estimating carbohydrates can be done based on serving sizes (some call carb choices).  On average 1 serving size will have about 15 grams of carbohydrate.  This method is best used when there are not any food labels or when eating at a restaurant.  Examples of carb choices are: 1 slice of bread, 1/2 cup of corn, 4 ounces of juice, small apple, 8 ounces of milk.  Each of these would be considered 15 grams of carbohydrate.

Counting grams of carbohydrate is much more precise.  Reading food labels and meal planning books are the best way to count grams of carbs.  I recommend the book, Calorie King.  When using this method, food is measured and then the carbohydrates are calculated.  When reading food labels, its important to determine how many servings you are going to eat and then multiply that by the grams of carbs per serving. 

*Watch out for products that say they are "Sugar-Free" or "No Sugar Added".  Just because a product is sugar-free doesn't mean its carb-free.  So always check the grams of carbohydrate.

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