Carbohydrate counting or “carb counting” is a dietary technique that many people living with diabetes use to manage their blood glucose levels. By tracking and limiting the amount of carbohydrates consumed, people are able to keep their blood glucose levels in their specific target range. Target ranges should be decided with your doctor, as they can be different for everyone.

Finding how many carbohydrates to consume also varies from person-to-person. There are many factors that can contribute to healthy carbohydrate consumption. Some of these factors include current medications being taken, physical activity levels and current weight. If a person engages in regular physical activity at heightened levels then they should be consuming more carbohydrates.

According the American Diabetes Association, the average range for carbohydrates per meal is around 45-60 grams. This is not accurate range for everyone. You should consult your doctor to find the accurate amount of carbohydrates that is healthy for your individual lifestyle. After finding a healthy range, meals and portions sizes can be planned around that carbohydrate range.

Common foods containing carbohydrates

Lots of food that we may not suspect contains carbohydrates are actually packed full of them. For example, many people know that junk food and grain-based foods like bread and pasta contain carbohydrates, but did you know that some fruits and vegetables also contain them? It’s true, one small piece of fresh fruit contains 15 grams of carbohydrate. Just because a food item is considered healthy, doesn’t mean that we can disregard its nutrition facts. Here is a list of foods that many people may not suspect contains carbohydrates:

  • Bananas
  • Apples
  • Oranges
  • Pumpkin
  • Grapes
  • Squash seeds

How to track carbohydrates

Carbohydrate counting can seem like a major time commitment, but it doesn’t have to be. Once you get into the routine tracking them, it will become second nature. The first place to start when “carb counting” is the nutrition facts. Much of the time carbs are displayed clearly on the nutrition label. You can also find other useful information like the proper serving size, calorie count, sodium level, etc. This information will help you make an informed decision on how much to eat.

Another simple way to track carbohydrates is to create a meal list for the full week. That way meal prep is simple, knowing that all of the meals are within your appropriate carb range. Your doctor is also a great resource to help you start tracking your carbohydrates.

For more information check out the American Diabetes Association’s All About Carbohydrate Counting resource or talk to your doctor. If you are interested in an all-in-one diabetes platform that helps you save time and stay organized, we invite you to trial a 60-day free trial of My Diabetes Home by registering here.