Diabetes and carbs. If you have diabetes, you have no doubt been told about carbohydrates. Carbohydrates include starches, sugars and fiber. All starches, sugars and about half the fiber you eat are broken down in your intestine and eventually become the glucose that you measure in your blood. If you are taking insulin to treat your diabetes, you have likely been told to either stick to a certain number of carbohydrates per meal, and/or have been told to count your carbohydrates and give one unit of insulin every so many carbohydrates. This is your “insulin to carb ratio”. You may give one unit of insulin for every 15 gm carbohydrate or one unit of insulin for every 5 gm of carbohydrate (insulin to carbohydrate ratios must be individualized!) You and your health care provider will work together to come up with the best ratio for you.

Diabetes and Carbs: Tools for counting carbohydrates

Food scale that weighs in both grams and ounces, and can be zeroed out or tared with a plate, bowl or cup on it (I like the Escali digital food scale)

Measuring cups and pitcher (for measuring both dry foods and liquids)

Measuring spoons

Food labels as well as a carb counting book (e.g. Calorie King, available online at calorieking.com, or at major bookstores) OR food tracking app for phone and/or computer (e.g. www.myfitnesspal.com).

Diabetes and Carbs: Counting carbohydrates in a meal

Weigh or measure each food in your meal (I like weighing, because it gives me the most accurate measurement.) Then, look up the carbs for each food (using the food label, a carb counting book, or a computer app). Using this information you can calculate the total carbs in your meal.

Example Meal
1 apple (before coring) 7.6 ounces: apples that come 2/lb, or 8 oz each have 26 carbohydrates; to calculate the carbs in your apple: 7.6 oz/8 oz = 0.95 X 26 carbs = 24.7 carbs (25 carbs)

1 sandwich made with 2 slices Bread, 3 ounces turkey, lettuce and mayonnaise. The package tells you that each slice contains 13 gm carb (2 X 13 = 26 carbs). None of the other items on your sandwich contain carbs.

Total carbs for meal: 25 carbs + 26 carbs = 51 gm

For more information on carb counting, ask your health care provider to refer you to a Registered Dietitian-Nutritionist who can help you with your specific eating style, or to a local diabetes class. You can find many tools for carb counting on the American Diabetes Association website http://www.diabetes.org/