Counting By 15s
Part 3 of a series on carbs, carb counting and balance.
Remember sitting in math class thinking "when am I going to use this in the real world?" Here's the answer—carbohydrate counting. Of course, if you use an insulin pump (or any type of insulin delivery), you're probably a carb counting pro.
And if you still use the exchange method, forgive any bias here. But carb counting can be so simple—especially with carb values listed on packaging, available at restaurants and easy to estimate. (For a fun look back at exchanges, visit this post at Six Until Me.)
- Starchy foods such as breads, cereals, rice, potatoes and pasta tend to contain about 15 grams of carbohydrate per serving. A serving is usually a slice of bread, 3/4 cup of dry unsweetened cereal or 1/2 cup of cooked rice.
- Fruits contain carbohydrates, too—about 15 grams per serving. That's a small apple, half of a banana or four ounces of juice.
- Dairy products contain about 12 grams of carbohydrate per serving. (Surprised? Lots of people are.) Figure a serving as 8 ounces of milk or a cup of low-fat yogurt.
- And don't forget vegetables. Starchy vegetables contain the same amount of carbohydrate per serving (15 grams) as pasta or bread. These include corn, peas, dried beans, yams and butternut or acorn squash. For other vegetables, you can count on about 5 grams of carbohydrate per half cup of cooked veggies or full cup of raw ones.
- Meats and fats don't contain carbohydrates, so they won't be calculated into your carb counts for each meal and snack. But as we've mentioned in the past, that doesn't make them free foods.
Of course, fiber is also a carbohydrate. But since fiber isn't digested like other carbs, the American Diabetes Association says that if a food has more than 5 grams of fiber, you can subtract half the grams of fiber from the total carbs. For example, if your 3/4-cup serving of cereal has 25 grams of carbohydrate—including 9 grams of fiber—only about 20 grams of carbs will actually make it into your bloodstream. Even better, that fiber may help you feel fuller until your snack or lunchtime.