Diabetes: Eating Right (cont.)

Carbohydrates are mainly found in the following food groups:

  • Fruit
  • Milk and yogurt
  • Bread, cereal, rice, pasta
  • Starchy vegetables

What Is Carbohydrate Counting?

Carbohydrate counting is a method of meal planning that is a simple way to keep track of the amount of total carbohydrate you eat each day. It helps allow you to eat what you want. Counting grams of carbohydrate and evenly distributing them at meals will help you control your blood glucose.

Instead of following an exchange list, with carbohydrate counting you monitor how much carbohydrate (sugar and starch) you eat daily. One carbohydrate serving is equal to 15 grams of carbohydrate.

With carbohydrate counting, you plan your carbohydrate intake based on what your pre-meal sugar is and your intake or insulin dose can be adjusted. Carbohydrate counting can be used by anyone and not just by people with diabetes that are taking insulin. If you eat more carbohydrates than your insulin supply can handle, your blood glucose level goes up. If you eat too little, your blood glucose level may fall too low. These fluctuations can be managed by knowing how to count your carbohydrate intake.

A registered dietitian will help you figure out a carbohydrate counting plan that meets your specific needs. For adults, a typical plan generally includes three to four carbohydrates at each meal, and one to two carbohydrate servings as snacks.

With carbohydrate counting, you can pick almost any food product off the shelf, read the label, and use the information about grams of carbohydrates to fit the food into your meal plan.

Carbohydrate counting is most useful for people who take multiple daily injections of insulin, use the insulin pump or who want more flexibility and variety in their food choices. However, it may not be for everyone, and the traditional method of following food exchange lists may be used instead.

How Much Fiber Should I Eat?

Fiber is the indigestible part of plant foods. It plays an important role in the digestive process as it helps move foods along the digestive tract, adding bulk to stool to help it pass through the bowel. In addition, diets high in fiber are associated with lower risks of obesity, hypertension, heart disease and strokes.

Fiber also:

  • Delays sugar absorption, helping to better control blood glucose levels.
  • Binds with cholesterol and may reduce the level of 'bad' LDL cholesterol in the blood.
  • Is a good source of vitamins and minerals.
  • Helps prevent constipation and reduces the risk of certain intestinal disorders.
  • Promotes weight loss by helping to decrease caloric intake. (It adds bulk to the food we eat, making you feel fuller.)

The goal for all Americans is to consume 25 to 35 grams of fiber per day. The best way to increase your fiber intake is to eat more of these fiber-rich foods:

  • Fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Cooked dried beans and peas
  • Whole grain breads, cereals, and crackers
  • Brown rice
  • Bran products