Basic Carbohydrate Counting
For Diabetes Management (CDA CPG 2003)
Carbohydrate counting is a flexible way to plan your meals. It focuses on foods that contain carbohydrate as these raise your blood glucose the most. Follow these steps to count carbohydrates and help manage your blood glucose levels. Your dietitian will guide you along the way.

Step 1:

Make healthy food choices

  • Enjoy a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low fat milk products, and meat and alternatives at your meals. A variety of foods will help to keep you healthy.
  • Use added fats in small amounts. This helps to control your weight and blood cholesterol.
  • Choose portion sizes to help you to reach or maintain a healthy weight.

Step 2:

Focus on carbohydrates

  • Your body breaks down carbohydrate into glucose. This raises your blood glucose levels.
  • Carbohydrate is found in many foods, including starches, fruits, some vegetables, legumes, milk, sugary foods and many prepared foods.
  • Most protein and fat foods contain little carbohydrate. Moderate servings will not have a big effect on blood glucose levels.

Step 3:

Set carbohydrate goals

  • Your dietician will help you set a goal for grams of carbohydrate at each meal and snack. This may be the same from day to day or may be flexible, depending on your needs.
  • Aim to meet your target within 5 grams per meal or snack

Step 4:

Determine carbohydrate content

  • Write down what you eat and drink throughout the day.
  • Be sure to note the portion sizes. You may need to use measuring cups and food scales to be Record the grams of carbohydrate in these foods and drinks.

Step 5:

Monitor effect on blood glucose level

  • Work with your health care team to correct blood glucose levels that are too high or too low.