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Counting carbohydrates

Carbohydrates affect your blood sugar levels more than any other foods. Foods that contain carbohydrates are fruit, fruit juice, bread, rice, pasta, cereal, milk, beans, and many snack foods like crackers, candy, soda and cookies.

Knowing the amount of carbohydrate in a food helps you to balance your meals and snacks. Eating too much carbohydrate can raise your blood sugar levels. In addition, limiting the amount of carbohydrate in your diet helps control total calories.

How can I know how many carbohydrates are in a particular food?

Check the Nutrition Facts label. Total carbohydrates are listed in bold letters on the label. This number is based on eating 1 serving of the food so you need to adjust your numbers if you eat more. Read labels carefully. For example, a bag of pretzels may be 1.5 servings rather than 1 serving.

How much carbohydrate should I eat each day?

You may find it helpful to meet with a registered dietitian who is an expert in diabetes management to help you set up your own, individual meal plan and goals for carbohydrate intake.

For many people, 30 - 60 grams of carbohydrate or 2 - 4 carbohydrate choices works for most meals. The following sample menu gives you an idea of how this can translate to breakfast, lunch, and dinner.


1 cup cooked oatmeal (27g.)

1/2 cup skim milk (6 g.)

1 medium sized apple (15 g.)

1 whole wheat English muffin (25 g)

1 tablespoon peanut butter (3g.)

1 cup skim milk (12 g.)


1 cup vegetable soup (15g.)

2 slices whole wheat bread (30g.)

2 ounces turkey breast

sliced lettuce/tomato

3 cups mixed vegetable salad (15g.)

1/2 cup kidney beans (20 g.)

2 tablespoons Italian dressing

1 peach (15g.)


4 ounces fish

1/2 cup cooked rice (25 g.)

1 cup cooked broccoli (10g.)

1/2 cup apple sauce (15 g.)

1 cup cooked pasta (40 g)

1/2 cup cooked spinach (4 g)

1/2 cup tomato sauce (5 g.)


Main Menu

Review Date: 7/8/2012
Reviewed By: Nancy J. Rennert, MD, Chief of Endocrinology & Diabetes, Norwalk Hospital, Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Previoulsy reviewed by Ari S. Eckman, MD, Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. (5/13/2010)
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