Counting your carbohydrates as a diabetes management tool

Counting carbohydrates in your daily meal plan can help manage glucose levels if you have diabetes.

Are you diabetic and struggling to manage your glucose levels? Counting your carbohydrates in your daily meal plan is one way you can better manage your diabetes. Start by working with a registered dietician or diabetes educator on a meal plan meant for your age, body weight and activity level. Then start counting your daily carbohydrates.

One serving of carbohydrates equals 15 grams of carbs. It is important that you read all nutrition labels until you become familiar with your favorite foods. It is important that you pick mostly fruits, vegetables and whole grains in your carbohydrate diet. You also need to monitor serving sizes. When you are just starting to count carbs, it is recommended you weigh and measure your food so you stay within an appropriate serving size.

Your daily calorie goal will help determine how many carbohydrates you should aim for each day. It is important to consult with a registered dietician to determine your calorie goal. Generally in an 1,800 calorie diet you would aim for 209 total carbs and in a 2,000 calorie diet you would aim for 239 total carbs.

Within your total carbohydrate count, you want to vary your carbohydrate choices between starches, fruits, milk or dairy and non-starchy vegetables. The variety of foods will give you the vitamins, minerals and nutrients your body requires to function properly.

When choosing dairy or milk products, try to choose low-fat or fat-free products. Fat products are high in calories! If you choose a dessert or sweets, count the carbohydrates against your total goal for the day and watch your serving size. Planning a treat into your diet once in a while won’t hurt your carbohydrate goal if you go back to making healthier choices the majority of the time.

To find a diabetes education program in Michigan go to Michigan Diabetes Outreach Network or visit the Michigan State University Extension diabetes page.

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