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What is it?
Carbohydrate (kar-bo-hi-drate) counting means keeping track of the amount of carbohydrates you eat every day. Carbohydrates are found in breads and starches, dairy products, fruits, vegetables, sugars, and sweets. Carbohydrates become blood sugar (glucose) in your body after you eat. You may prevent kidney, eye, nerve, or heart problems by keeping your blood sugar within normal range.
People with diabetes (di-uh-b-tees) may eat small amounts of food that contain sugar. But, the sugar containing foods must be included in the carbohydrate amounts allowed for each meal or snack. To control blood sugar, a diabetic must eat certain amounts of carbohydrates at the same time each day.
One serving of a carbohydrate food contains 12 to 15 grams of carbohydrate. A carbohydrate food may be a fruit, dairy product, or a bread or starch serving in the amounts listed below.
Vegetables contain only 5 grams of carbohydrate per serving. Do not count vegetables as carbohydrates unless you eat more than 2 servings per meal.
Meat, meat substitutes, and fats are not counted as carbohydrates.
Your dietitian (di-uh-tih-shun) will explain when and how many carbohydrate servings or grams you can eat during the day. Ask your caregiver for the diabetic exchange diet CareNote to learn more about serving sizes.
Talk with your caregiver if your blood sugar levels are too low or too high. Make sure your cholesterol and other blood lipids (fats) are checked at least once a year. You may need to follow a low fat diet if they are too high.
Check with your dietitian before exchanging one kind of carbohydrate for another. Ask your dietitian or caregiver before eating the following foods.
foods with added sugar
jams and jellies
Read the labels of packaged foods to find out how many grams of carbohydrate a serving has in it. Make sure you also eat non-sweetened foods with your meals, if you eat foods or drink liquids that contain sugar.
The lists below tell you how much carbohydrate is in each food group. Eat only the amount that is on the food list.
Do not eat too much protein or fat because they can increase your risk of kidney or heart disease.
Choose high fiber foods to help control your blood sugar. Examples of high fiber foods are fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grain breads, cooked dried beans, and bran cereals.
Increase your activity level to help control your blood glucose levels. Tell your dietitian about your exercise plan so your diet can be adjusted to keep your blood sugar normal.
Serving Sizes: Use the list below to measure foods and serving sizes. A serving size means the size of food after it is cooked or prepared.
1 pint or 2 cups (16 fluid ounces) of liquid is the size of 1-1/3 soda-pop cans.
1-1/2 cup (12 fluid ounces) of liquid is the size of a soda-pop can.
1 cup of food is the size of a large handful, or 8 fluid ounces of liquid.
1/2 cup of food is about half of a large handful, or 4 fluid ounces of liquid.
2 tablespoons (Tbsp) is about the size of a large walnut.
1 tablespoon (Tbsp) is about the size of the tip of your thumb (from the last crease).
1 teaspoon (tsp.) is about the size of the tip of your little finger (from the last crease).
3 ounces of cooked meat, fish, or poultry is about the size of a deck of cards.
1 ounce of cooked meat, fish, or poultry is about 1/4 cup (c).
One ounce of hard cheese is about a 1 inch cube.
A serving of vegetables is 1/2 cup (1/2 handful) cooked, or 1 cup (1 handful) raw.
CARBOHYDRATE FOODS AND SERVING SIZES
Breads and Starches: Each serving contains 15 grams carbohydrate. Eat ____ servings per day from this list. Most people need 5-9 servings per day.
1 slice bread (1 ounce)
1/2 cup cooked pasta, corn, cooked cereal, mashed potato, or green peas
1/3 cup cooked rice, dried beans, or dried peas
3/4 cup flake cereal
1/2 hamburger or hot dog bun, English muffin, or frozen bagel
3 cups air-popped popcorn
1 small (3 inch) potato
2 rice cakes
6 saltines or three (2-1/2 inch squares) graham crackers
Fruits: Each serving contains 15 grams carbohydrate. Eat ____ servings per day from this list. Most people need 2-4 servings per day.
1/2 cup apple, orange, or grapefruit juice
1 small (2-1/2 inch) apple, peach, or orange
1/2 cup applesauce or canned fruit
3/4 cup fresh blueberries
1/3 cup cranberry juice cocktail, grape juice, or prune juice
15 small grapes or 12 large grapes
1 kiwi fruit
1/2 large pear or fresh grapefruit
2 Tbsp raisins or 1/4 cup dried fruit
1-1/4 cup fresh strawberries or melon cubes
Dairy: Each serving contains 12 grams carbohydrate. Eat or drink____ servings per day from this list. Most people need 2-3 servings per day.
1/2 cup sugar-free custard, pudding, or evaporated milk
1 cup fresh milk or sugar-free yogurt
1/3 cup nonfat milk powder
Vegetables: Each serving contains 5 grams carbohydrate. Only count a vegetable as carbohydrate if you have more than 2 servings per meal. Eat ____ servings per day from this list. Most people need 2-4 servings per day.
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