For a diabetic, controlling the daily diet is of utmost importance. There are a lot of foods that can spike the sugar levels and some more that lower. The trick is to know which is right for you and which isn’t. And counting carbohydrates is the first step you need to take when deciding on your diabetic meal plan.
Why Are Carbs Important For Diabetics?
Diabetes is your body not being able to process carbs properly, which results in fluctuating blood sugar levels. Here, either your body produces less or no insulin to absorb glucose. Carbs contribute to treating diabetes because they are generally broken down in your body to form glucose, raising blood sugar levels when required.
How Many Carbs Should A Diabetic Eat?
The dietary reference intake for healthy, adult men and women is 130 g per day.1 But this level for diabetics differs from one person to another. The
The number of carbs you eat should be in accordance with your weight, age, lifestyle, activity level, the type and amount of medicine/insulin you take, the blood glucose level, and the target you want to reach.2 For example, you’ll need to eat lesser carbs if you have a comparatively inactive lifestyle.
For Type 1 Diabetes
If you take multiple injections daily, you need to alter the insulin intake depending on your carb levels. If you take a steady dose of medication every day, the carb intake should be altered and should be consistent with the time and quantity. This will not only balance the sugar levels but also reduce the risk of hypoglycemia.3 4
For Type 2 Diabetes
Controlling the portion size and opting for healthy foods has been seen to have better effects on type 2 diabetics. This meal planning is more suitable for the elderly.5
How Do You Count Carbs?
In chalking out a meal plan, you need to observe your blood glucose before and after your diet, what and how much you
- Discuss with your doctor and set the target quantity of carbs that you need every day.
- Recognize the foods that contain carbs.
- Figure out how to estimate the number of carbs in foods.
- Total the carbs in your daily diet, alter the quantities where required, and eat accordingly.
Foods That Contain High Carbs
Some of the foods that contain a high amount of carbohydrates are breads in any form, like rolls and bagels; grains such as rice and corn; pasta; potatoes and yams; legumes such as peas, lentils, and specific beans that exclude snow peas, peanuts, and green beans; yogurt; all fruits except berries; sweets such as ice cream, cakes, pies, and cookies; fried foods; processed foods; and any sweetened drinks and beer. While these are not exactly harmful to a healthy individual, they can affect diabetics.
Estimating The Carb Count
There are different ways to figure out the number of carbs in a particular
- In the case of canned or packed products, check the nutritional value label. Calculate your required number looking at the serving size of the pack and the carb count. Remember that carb level mentioned here will include sugar, fiber, and starch.
- In the case of natural products or when cooking your meal, you can refer to books or sites such as the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service site, which provide nutritional values.
- When choosing foods with carbs, go for those that are nutrient- and fiber-rich.
Always ensure that you get your carbs in the form of vegetables, grains, fruits, and dairy products and in those without added sugar, fat, or sodium as natural sources will have no side effects. Also, keep an eye on the following:
- If you need to lose weight, look for low-calories foods.
- If you need to reduce
- If you need to reduce blood pressure, look for low-sodium foods.
Once you set your meal plan, regularly check your blood sugar levels before and after meals. Depending on the spikes in the levels, you can fine-tune your diet and replace the foods with an alternative. By counting your carbs along with restricting the intake of sugars and fats, you can easily bring your diabetes under control.
|↑1||National Institutes of Health. “Nutrient recommendations: Dietary reference intakes (DRI).” (2016).|
|↑2, ↑7||Carbohydrate Counting & Diabetes. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.|
|↑3||Evert, Alison B., Jackie L. Boucher, Marjorie Cypress, Stephanie A. Dunbar, Marion J. Franz, Elizabeth J. Mayer-Davis, Joshua J. Neumiller et al.
|↑4||Rabasa-Lhoret, Remi, Jean Garon, Helene Langelier, D. A. N. I. E. L. L. E. Poisson, and Jean-Louis Chiasson. “Effects of meal carbohydrate content on insulin requirements in type 1 diabetic patients treated intensively with the basal-bolus (ultralente-regular) insulin regimen.” Diabetes Care 22, no. 5 (1999): 667-673.|
|↑5||Evert, Alison B., Jackie L. Boucher, Marjorie Cypress, Stephanie A. Dunbar, Marion J. Franz, Elizabeth J. Mayer-Davis, Joshua J. Neumiller et al. “Nutrition therapy recommendations for the management of adults with diabetes.” Diabetes care 36, no. 11 (2013): 3821-3842.|
|↑6||Johnson, Mary A. “Carbohydrate counting for people with type 2 diabetes.” Diabetes Spectrum 13, no. 3 (2000): 156.|
|↑8||USDA Food Composition Databases. USDA Agricultural Research Service.|