counting is a skill that can help you plan your diet to manage
type 2 diabetes and control your blood sugar. This
technique helps you determine the amount of sugar and starch (carbohydrate) in
the foods you eat so you can spread carbohydrate throughout the day, preventing
high blood sugar after meals. Carbohydrate counting gives you the flexibility
to eat what you want and increases your sense of control and confidence in
managing your diabetes.
Carbohydrate is the nutrient that most
affects your blood sugar.
Carbohydrate counting helps you keep
your blood sugar at your target level.
You can consult a
registered dietitian or
certified diabetes educator to help you master
carbohydrate counting and plan meals.
Eating standard portions of
carbohydrate foods. Each
serving size or standard portion contains about 15 grams of carbohydrate. It might be helpful to measure and weigh your food when you are
first learning what makes up a standard portion.
Eating standard portions of
foods that contain protein. Foods that contain protein
(beans, eggs, meat, and cheese) are an important part of a balanced
Eating less saturated fat and trans fat. A balanced diet includes healthy fat. Talk with a registered dietitian about how much fat you
need in your diet.
Know your daily amount
Your daily amount depends on several things—your weight, how active you are, what diabetes medicines you take, and what your goals are for your blood sugar levels. A registered dietitian or certified diabetes educator can help you plan
how much carbohydrate to include in each meal and snack.
For most adults, a guideline for the daily amount of carbohydrate is:
45 to 60 grams at each meal. That's about the same as 3 to 4 carbohydrate servings.
15 to 20 grams at each snack. That's about the same as 1 carbohydrate serving.
Other helpful suggestions
Here are some other
suggestions that will help you count carbohydrate:
Read food labels for carbohydrate content. Notice the serving size shown on the package.
blood sugar level. If you do this before and 1 to 2 hours after eating, you will be
able to see how food affects your blood sugar level.
Use a food record(What is a PDF document?) to keep track of
what you eat and your blood sugar results. At each regular
visit with your dietitian or certified diabetes educator, or whenever
you think your meal plan needs adjusting, you can review your
Get more help. The American Diabetes Association offers
booklets to help people learn how to count carbohydrate, measure and weigh
food, and read food labels. Also, you
will need to talk with a registered dietitian or a certified diabetes
educator to build a plan that fits your needs.
Other Works Consulted
American Diabetes Association (2013). Nutrition therapy recommendations for the management of adults with diabetes. Diabetes Care, 36(11): 3821–3842. DOI: 10.2337/dc13-2042. Accessed December 5, 2013.
American Diabetes Association (2016). Standards of medical care in diabetes—2016. Diabetes Care, 39(Suppl 1): S1–S112.
Campbell AP, Beaser RS (2010). Medical nutrition therapy. In RS Beaser, ed., Joslin's Diabetes Deskbook: A Guide for Primary Care Providers, 2nd ed., pp. 91–136. Boston: Joslin Diabetes Center.
Franz MJ (2012). Medical nutrition therapy for diabetes mellitus and hypoglycemia of nondiabetic origin. In LK Mahan et al., eds., Krause's Food and the Nutrition Care Process, 13th ed., pp. 675–710. St Louis: Saunders.
ByHealthwise Staff Primary Medical ReviewerE. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine Specialist Medical ReviewerRhonda O'Brien, MS, RD, CDE - Certified Diabetes Educator Colleen O'Connor, PhD, RD - Registered Dietitian
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