Carbohydrate counting – Yes, you can do it too!

 In Diabetes, Health

Carbohydrate Counting – Major Armour of Diabetes Management

People with diabetes face many difficulties to maintain their blood sugar levels. One among many ways to manage diabetes is Carbohydrate Counting. It is a way to plan your meals. Carbohydrates are one of the macro nutrients which are energy sources. Carbohydrates include sugar, starches and fiber. Balance between insulin and carbohydrate intake determines what your blood glucose level is.

Why Carbohydrate counting?

  • It helps to control blood glucose levels.
  • Avoids complications like hypoglycemia, kidney problem, eye problem etc.
  • Helps you stay healthy longer.
  • Makes you feel more energetic and active.
  • Makes self management of diabetes easier.
  • Helps you to have different food choices.

How many grams of carbohydrates?

The number of servings of carbohydrate is based on your weight, activity level, medication and insulin dose. It also depends on your post meal glucose levels. Servings can be adjusted according to your personal need to maintain target blood glucose levels. Your health care team can assist you in determining your carbohydrate intake. A general guideline is to have 45- 60 g of at each meal and 15- 20 g of carbohydrate serving at each snack according to the need.

Foods which contain carbohydrate:

  • Grains and whole grains like oats, barley, rice etc,.
  • Grain products like breads, rotis, cereals, crackers, pasta etc,.
  • Pulses, pinto beans and soy products.
  • Milk and milk products
  • Starchy vegetables like potato, sweet potato, peas, corn etc
  • Processed and refined foods like fruit juices, colas, cakes, cookies, chips, candies etc.

How to estimate carbs in the foods?

Most of the foods come with labels on them giving the carbohydrate count per serving. For those without labels there are many online tools which help you keep track of your carbohydrate counting.

Checking Nutrition Labels:

It is easy to know carbohydrate serving when there is a nutrition label.

First, look at the serving size. Then, check the total carbohydrate grams on the label.  Total carbohydrate on the label includes sugar, starches and fiber. According to your serving you can double or triple the amount.


As it is important to count your carbohydrate intake it is also important to choose the right kind.

Good or Complex Carbohydrates:

Good carbs provide fiber along with many other good nutrients. Carbs in their natural form are considered healthy.

  • Whole grains- Brown rice, buckwheat, oats, millets, etc.
  • Legumes- Peas, soya, lentils, chick pea and all kinds of beans.
  • Fruits and vegetables- Tomatoes, green leaves, oranges, papaya and many more.
  • Nuts and seeds- Almonds, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, walnut, etc

Bad or Refined Carbohydrates:

Refined carbs provide high calories in small amounts. Daily consumption leads to variety of ailments.

  • Refined grains and cereals- White rice, refined flour, etc
  • Sugar and sweets- chocolates and all kinds of sweets.
  • Fruit juices
  • Processed foods- Chips, Packed cereals, etc.
  • Bakery foods- Burgers, pizzas, cakes, cookies. Etc.

Balance your meals with all the major nutrients including good sources of protein, fat and carbohydrate. Beware of the sugar free or no sugar products as they may contain high amount of carbohydrates.

Insulin and Carbohydrate Ratio:

Insulin and carbohydrate ratio will determine how much insulin you need to cover the carbohydrate you have taken in your meal or snack. For instance one might need 1unit or 1.5 units for every 10 g of carbohydrate taken. Your health care provider will determine according to your needs. The dose of insulin needed is different for each other. The dose can vary according to time or meal taken. By managing this ratio you can maintain target blood glucose levels in diabetes.

HeaL – Heka Health Link mobile app is handy and can assist you in counting carbohydrates making it easier for you. It helps with food journaling, which is tracking what you eat daily on the HeaL app. With each food item you track/log, HeaL helps in analyzing carbohydrate values plus other major nutrients and provides personalized guidance on perfect nutrition just for you. It’s important to know every single individual will have different nutritional requirements based on level of activity, height, weight and medical history. There is no one size fits all.

Balanced nutrition is the solution for many of our health related issues be it managing a  chronic condition like diabetes, thyroid problems, PCOD and/or weight loss and fitness.

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