How to count carb correctly to manage diabetes

How to Count Carb Correctly to Manage Diabetes
Credit: Joe Loong.

When carbohydrates, sugars and starches are digested, they break down to form glucose in the blood stream.

If you have diabetes, your quick acting insulin dose can be based on how much carbohydrate you eat, so it is important to accurately estimate your carbohydrate intake.

Incorrectly estimating your carbohydrate intake, can result in an incorrect insulin dose leading to hyperglycemia (high blood sugar levels) or hypoglycemia (low blood sugar levels).

3 steps for estimating or counting carbohydrate:

Step 1. Measure or weigh the amount of food or drink you will eat. Use standard household measures such as measuring cups, spoons and scales.

Step 2. Check the nutrition information panel or carbohydrate counter reference for the carbohydrate content of the food.

Step 3. Calculate amount of carbohydrate based on the amount of food or drink you will consume.

To count carb correctly, you should:

Round carbohydrate grams to the nearest whole number.

Once you are confident with common measures, it is important to check your portions on a regular basis to ensure accuracy.

If unsure of carbohydrate content, always be cautious and aim to under-estimate the amount to reduce the risk of hypoglycemia.

When you count carbs using the nutrition information panel on food label, you should always look at the total carbohydrate, not just the sugar content.

It is the total amount of carbohydrate that affects blood glucose levels.

It is important to know that the package serving size may be different from the amount you eat. Thus, always measure the amount that you will eat.

For example, on food label, the per 100g column can be used if you know the weight of your food.

Be sure to accurately weigh the amount of food you will eat. You can use digital kitchen scales, because they are quick and easy. Then you need to work out the carbohydrate based on the weight of the food you will eat.

How to choose carbohydrate reference guides

Carbohydrate reference guides provide detailed carbohydrate information of foods and drinks and are useful for products which may not have a nutrition information panel.

There are a variety of carbohydrate reference guides including books, websites and phone applications, some useful reference guides.

carbohydrate reference value for the food you will eat, pay attention to the brand, cooking method, if the food is with or without skin and if it contains a dressing or sauce.

For example, if you are eating baked potato, ensure you select the baked potato option rather than fresh potato, as this will affect the carbohydrate content of the food.

Once you are confident you have selected the appropriate food option, calculate carbohydrate using the 3-step process you would use for nutrition information panels.

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