Nutrition and Diabetes
Michelle Dennison-Farris, RD/LD, BC-ADM, CDE
Oklahoma Diabetes Center Dietitian Diabetes Educator
Nutrition is one of the most important aspects of your diabetes self care. Nutrition not only affects your blood sugar, but also affects your blood pressure, weight and cholesterol levels.
Food is classified into 4 categories: carbohydrates, protein, fat and water. Carbohydrates are responsible for the immediate raise in your blood sugar after meals. Carbohydrates are also responsible for energy and normal body function. We can’t function properly without carbohydrates. So it is very important to balance the amount of carbohydrates we need for normal body function and normal blood glucose levels. Most people with Type 2 Diabetes are able to adequately control their blood sugar by limiting their total carbohydrate intake to 45-60 grams per meal.
To determine how much carbohydrate is in a food you must first determine your portion size. Once you have determined how much of a particular food you are eating then you must refer to the Nutrition Facts Label (see example) to calculate your total carbohydrate content. Some patients find it misleading that a food label lists total carbohydrate and sugar amounts. For basic carbohydrate counting, only the total carbohydrate amount should be considered. It is often helpful to keep a food/blood glucose diary to help remind you what foods have the biggest impact on your blood sugar.
Examples of high carbohydrate foods include starches such as potatoes, rice, bread, corn, peas, beans and pasta. Fruits, milk, yogurt, and of course sweets, (desserts, regular carbonated beverages) are also considered high in carbohydrate. However, as mentioned earlier, it is very important to get enough carbohydrate to sustain normal function, but not so much that it may negatively affect your blood sugar control.