Carbohydrate Counting
Count your Carbohydrate-It is important.
 Counting carbohydrate can be done either way:
  • Count the total grams of carbohydrate in a meal or snack.
  • A carbohydrate serving is equal to 15 grams of carbohydrate. The size of the serving will vary based on the type of food you plan to eat, for example, cup of cooked aviyal or a three inch round idly or a six inch chapatti or phulka or cup of sambar.
  • All of these foods contain 15 grams of carbohydrate per serving. This means that if you eat more than one more serving of the food item,then you will need to count the carbohydrate in your serving size you have eaten.
Carb counting is a type of meal planning that many people with diabetes (or "diabetes mellitus") use. It is a way for people to figure out how many "carbs" they eat. "Carbs" is short for "carbohydrates."

Our body breaks down the food we eat into 3 main types of nutrients: carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Carbohydrates are sugars and starches that come from food. The body uses carbohydrates for energy. People with diabetes need to watch how many carbs they eat, because carbs raise a person's blood sugar level.

Carbohydrate counting is a meal planning tool that helps plan and eat balanced meals and controlblood glucose levels, along with the medications and physical activity. When a person uses carbohydrate counting, the focus is on the carbohydrate in the food. This is due to the fact that carbohydrate raises your blood glucose much more rapidly than the other two macronutrients that provide calories; protein and fat (excluding alcohol, which is not a macronutrient).
Calculating the amount of carbohydrate in each meal or snack that a person eats each day can help in keeping the blood glucose at an optimal level; adjust the diabetes medication or insulin as needed.
Following is a more complete list of the food groups whose calories are mainly from carbohydrate:
  • Starches: rice, pasta, bread, cereal, crackers
  • Starchy vegetables: potatoes, corn, green peas, beans and lentils
  • Fruit and fruit juices
  • Non Starchy vegetables: spinach, tomatoes, cauliflower
  • Dairy Foods: yogurt, milk and other dairy foods
  • Sweets / Desserts: cakes, cookies, candy
  • Beverages high in sugar
Foods that do not contain carbohydrate in them are:
  • Meats (poultry, fish, seafood, eggs, red meat)
  • Fats (butter, oil, margarine, nuts have some carbs)
Keeping an eye on the carbohydrate intake daily and eating the same amount each day, will assist in maintaining the blood glucose levels within the target range.

How to count carbs?
 To count carbs, you need to look at the food's nutrition label (if it has a nutrition label). You will need to look at the:
  • "Total carbohydrate" number – This tells you how many carbs are in one serving size of the food. If you eat one serving, then the number of carbs you eats will be the same as this number.
  • "Serving size" – This tells you how much food is in one serving. If you haves two servings, the number of carbs will be two times the number of carbohydrates listed.
  • "Dietary fiber" – Fiber is a carbohydrate that is not digested and so does not raise blood sugar. Foods with a lot of fiber can help control your child's blood sugar. If a food has more than 5 grams (g) of fiber, less insulin is needed for that food.
How much Carbohydrate should a person eat?
Each person has their own threshold for carbohydrate; the correct amount for them. A few of the areas to consider when trying to estimate the amount of carbohydrate amount for the day is a person’s weight and height, the usual food intake, daily work and leisure schedule, the favorite foods, amount of daily physical activity, target blood glucose goals, diabetes medications or insulin (type of insulin and the timing of insulin action).

For a female, a basic rule of thumb for estimating the carbohydrate servings is approximately 45-60 grams of carbohydrate, or three to four carbohydrate servings per meal. For males, it is four to five carbohydrate servings per meal or 60-75 grams of carbohydrate per meal. Plan to keep the carbohydrate amount the same at meals and snacks, until the person feels comfortable to move forward with variations.
A Registered Dietitian with expertise in Indian foods and carbohydrate counting would bea resource to consult re individualizing the carbohydrate prescription.

Tips for Successful Carbohydrate Counting
Carbohydrate counting takes a bit of practice, but it’s a great way to learn about eating well with diabetes. It is one option with regarding to meal planning for diabetes. Here are tips that will help to get you started. These are some ideas from which you can select what works for you:

  • Educate Yourself: Attend classes on diabetes offered at clinics and hospitals related to diabetes management. Read everything your doctor, endocrinologist or Certified Diabetes educator has provided to you.
  • Start small: Know the insulin to carb ratio and what one unit of insulin does to your blood glucose without eating.
  • Begin at Home: It’s always easier to eat at home than eat out because you know the ingredients.
  • Test your blood glucose (BG) frequently: Test your BG before and after you eat, to see what impact each food has on your BG.
  • Learn to read the nutrition facts label: It is easier to dose insulin when the carbohydrates are listed on the package, except for fruits, and vegetables.
  • Keep it simple: Keep it simple. Stick to certain foods like salad dressing you like.
  • Be consistent: The trick is to be consistent with habits and the volume of food you eat.
  • Figure out what you can’t eat: Most people with diabetes can eat anything in moderation, but carbohydrate counters sometimes find foods that just aren’t worth the glucose spikes.
  • Study your body: A little bit of record keeping goes a long way toward helping you figure things out about food and insulin dose.
  • When you are at a restaurant. Learn how to improvise: Don’t take insulin until you see the menu.
  • Do your homework: Always check the menu before you go to a restaurant. It’s okay to ask for substitutions, order basic foods.
  • Pay attention to portion size: Learn what average portion sizes look like and avoid large meals when eating out.
  • Share your meal. The danger of eating out is you get huge portions. Split the food up on the plate into portion sizes before you start eating.
  • Be smart about mindless munching: When you are eating things like chips, count out one portion instead of eating your way through the bag or bowl.
  • Know thyself: Carbohydrate counting is individual. Eat and test is the rule of thumb.
  • Be aware of the following warning signs: Hypoglycemia usually sets in with some signals like shakiness, dizziness, hunger, mood changes, increased sweating, head ache, and pale skin color. Keep carbohydrates on hand or pack of glucose tabs.
  • Treat immediately: Treat your low blood glucose with 15 grams of carbohydrate, wait 15 minutes, then check your blood glucose again.
Rice and Vegetables
Indian Food Name Measurement Carbs (g)
Aloo-Baingan Mixed Vegetables 1/4 Cup 15
Aloo Curry 1/2 Cup 15
Aloo Methi 1/2 Cup 15
Bhindi (Okra) 2/3 Cup 15
Besan Kadi 1/2 Cup 15
Mutter Paneer 2/3 Cup 15
Rajmah 2/3 Cup 15
Vegetable Kofta Curry 1/2 Cup 15
Boiled Rice 1/3 Cup 15
Pulao 1/3 Cup 15
Khichari 1/2 Cup 15
Baingan Ka Bhartha 1/2 Cup 5
Chole 3/4 Cup 5
Kaddu Curry 1/3 Cup 5
Meat Curries
Indian Food Name Measurement Carbs (g)
Chicken Curry 1/2 Cup 15
Gosht Curry 1/2 Cup 15
Indian Food Name Measurement Carbs (g)
Chana Dal 1/2 Cup 15
Makhani Dal, low fat 1/2 Cup 15
Moong Dal 1/4 Cup 15
Masoor Dal 1/3 Cup 15
Urad Dal 1/2 Cup 15
Indian Food Name Measurement Carbs (g)
1 Chapati/Roti 7'' diameter 1 15
Dosa 1/3 15
Naan 1/3 15
Puri 5'' 1 15
Indian Food Name Measurement Carbs (g)
Aloo Samosa 1/2 15
Idli 1 15
Aloo Tikki 2 15
Indian Food Name Measurement Carbs (g)
Rasgulla 1 15
Gulab Jamun 1/2 15
Kheer 1/2 Cup 15
Small Mango 1/2 15
Lassi 6 oz 15
* Please note that these are guidelines provided by a nutritionist and you should consult your doctor for the best diet for your specific needs. We wish all our readers the very best with the management of the diabetes.