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Counting Carbs

While it may not sound fun, counting carbohydrates
can be a very effective method for managing
blood sugar levels.

Breaking Down Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are nutrients found in many foods, including grains and starches, fruits, some vegetables, legumes, milk and milk alternatives, sugary foods and many prepared foods. They provide the body with energy (calories) and can be grouped into the following 3 categories:

Berries Berries

Sugars

Fruit, juice, milk, some vegetables, baked goods, candy, ice cream, pop, jam, dried fruit

Food with starch Food with starch

Starches

Beans, bread, cereal, pasta, potato, rice, corn, any food made with flour

Assorted fibres Assorted fibres

Fibres

Beans, bran, fruit, lentils, nuts, seeds, vegetables, whole grains

During digestion, sugars and starches are broken down into glucose (or sugar), which enters the bloodstream via the digestive tract. It then makes its way into the cells where it’s used for energy with the help of a hormone called insulin.

Friendly Tip:

Unlike sugars and starches, fibres aren’t broken down by the body – in fact, they are an important part of a healthy diet, helping to:

  • Slow digestion
  • Balance blood sugar levels
  • Promote “regularity” of bowel movements

Carbohydrates and Type 2 Diabetes

People with type 2 diabetes don’t produce enough insulin and/or their cells are resistant to the insulin produced. As a result, glucose can’t enter cells properly so blood sugar levels climb; this can lead to serious health problems, including heart disease and stroke, kidney disease, eye damage, erectile dysfunction and foot problems.

Carbohydrate counting involves tracking the carbs you consume and sticking to a carbohydrate goal that’s been set for you – by a healthcare professional – to help manage your blood sugar levels.

Carb Counting in
4 Simple Steps:

#1: Consult your
Registered Dietitian (RD)

Your RD can provide you with meal-planning tips and help you set your carbohydrate goal for each meal and snack. If you’ve never met with an RD, ask your doctor for a referral – and if possible, request to see someone local.

TIP: General carb goals for most adults:

  • 45 to 60 grams/meal
  • 15 to 20 grams/snack

Your carb goal may be based on your weight, activity level, medication regimen and blood sugar targets.

#2: Log your meals and snacks

Get a notebook or download an app where you can record the foods and drinks you consume.

TIP: Carbs come from a variety of sources, including fruit and dairy – be mindful that these foods also count towards your carb goal.

#3: Include your serving size

You can find serving size information within nutrition labels, restaurant fact sheets and government websites.

Refer to the section on Nutrition Labels and see where you can find serving size info within a Nutrition Facts table.

Use measuring cups/spoons and kitchen scales to help estimate the number of servings consumed. If you’ve consumed more (or less) than the mentioned serving, write it down – you’ll need it for step #4.

TIP: Check out the Handy Guide to Portion Sizes to see how portion control tools are right at your fingertips.

#4: Count your carbohydrates

Subtract the grams of fibre from the total grams of carbohydrate, adjusting for serving size whenever necessary.

Nutrition labels Nutrition labels
Friendly Tip:

Stay within 5 grams of your carbohydrate goal per meal or snack.

Remember:

Your carb goal may be based on your weight, activity level, medication regimen and blood sugar targets.

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