Expert Q&A

Carbohydrate Counting and Diabetes

I was told to manage my blood sugar levels by limiting my carbohydrate consumption. What is the best way to count the carbs I am eating at meals?

-Kami from Pennsylvania

Carbohydrates raise blood sugar levels. As a result, if you count the carbohydrates in foods and control your consumption, you can better manage your blood sugar levels. The best way to count your carbs at meals is to measure them by carbohydrate choices, a unit of measurement that is approximately 1 serving, or 15 grams of carbohydrate. For example, 1 carbohydrate choice is equal to:

  • 1 slice of 1-ounce bread
  • ⅓ cup of rice
  • ⅓ cup pasta
  • ½ cup cooked oatmeal
  • ½ cup of diced fruit
  • ¼ cup of dried fruit
  • 4-6 ounces of fruit juice
  • 8 ounces of milk
  • ½ cup legumes.

One way to figure out a food's carbohydrate content is to look at the Nutrition Facts Label. Remember to pay attention to the serving size. So, if you are looking at a box of crackers and the serving size is 6 crackers, look at the total number of carbohydrates for that serving size. If 6 crackers have a total of 15 grams of carbohydrates, then they are equal to 1 carbohydrate choice.

If you are unsure about how many carbohydrate choices you should be eating at meals or snacks, talk with your doctor or diabetes educator. They can help you figure out how much to consume for adequate blood sugar control.

Megan Porter, RD/LD
Contributing Expert

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