If you have type 1 diabetes, you must match your carbohydrate intake to your insulin dose. To get the best blood sugar result, your carbohydrate count must be accurate.
When you have type 2 diabetes, your blood sugar will go up if you eat too much carbohydrate. And if you are treated with oral medications that release insulin from the pancreas, or insulin, you must match your carbohydrate intake to your medication dose. To get the best blood sugar result, you need to know how much carbohydrate is in your food and regulate your carbohydrate intake.
The best way to regulate your carbohydrate intake is to “count the carbohydrates” in your food. Carbohydrates are counted in grams, which is a measure of weight – and even a few grams more or less can make a difference in your blood sugar reading.
In this section, you will learn about:
- The Chemistry, Digestion and Sources of Carbohydrates
- How to Count Carbohydrates
- Reading Food Nutrition Labels:
including How to Count Fiber, and Count Sugar Alcohol
- Using the Exchange System
- Weighing the Food
- Demystifyling Sugar and Artificial Sweeteners
Chemistry of Carbohydrate
Carbohydrate is sugar – and includes both single sugar units called sugar (or glucose) and chains of sugar units chemically linked together called starch. Carbohydrate has to be broken down into single sugar units to be absorbed. Glucose is the most common sugar unit in our food and in our bodies.
Digestion of Carbohydrates
Carbohydrate has to be broken down into single sugar units to be absorbed.
Sources of Carbohydrate
Carbohydrates are found in:
- Rice, grains, cereals, and pasta
- Breads, tortillas, crackers, bagels and rolls
- Dried beans, split peas and lentils
- Vegetables, like potatoes, corn, peas and winter squash
- Sugars, like table sugar and honey
- Foods and drinks made with sugar, like regular soft drinks and desserts
What about fiber? Fiber is a complex carbohydrate found in fruit, vegetables and whole grains. However, while you can eat fiber, you do not digest it. It will not cause your blood sugar levels to rise, so you do not need to take insulin to cover the fiber.
Additional Resource Materials
We have compiled resources for you to use to learn more about carbohydrates and their role in managing your care. Here is a list of topics in print-friendly PDF format ready for your download:
- More Information On Carbohydrates
- Information On How To Count Carbohydrates
- How To Calculate Carbohydrates By Food Weight
- Food Exchange Lists To Help You Make Healthy Diet Choices
- Information on Sugar And Sugar Substitutes
Self assessment quizzes are available for topics covered in this website. To find out how much you have learned about Understanding Carbohydrates, take our self assessment quiz when you have completed this section. The quiz is multiple choice. Please choose the single best answer to each question. At the end of the quiz, your score will display. If your score is over 70% correct, you are doing very well. If your score is less than 70%, you can return to this section and review the information.