Although it is generally a person with diabetes who needs to count carbohydrate intake, I think it becomes more important especially as we age to pay attention to how many carbs we are eating. It becomes even more important if we are overweight. The older we get and the heavier we get, the higher the risk for developing diabetes becomes; also, if you have a family history you should pay attention to carbohydrate intake even if so far your blood glucose levels are normal. Why not change behavior before you are diagnosed as a diabetic?
Our dietitian, Cheryl Wahlstrom, developed the following information as a handout about carbohydrate counting.
Carbohydrate-rich foods affect your blood sugar. Examples of carbohydrate-rich foods are fruit, breads/grains, starchy vegetables and milk. For most calorie levels, a goal is 45-60 grams of carbohydrate per meal, with 15-20 grams in a snack. If you are on insulin or certain diabetic pills, be sure to include carbohydrates in your meals or your blood sugar may fall too low.
Become a label reader. When reading labels, look at the total carbohydrate (grams) per serving. You do not need to look at the percentage or the grams of sugar. They are included in the total.
There are no "bad" carbohydrates. What matters is how many grams that you eat. Of course, if you eat a high-concentrated sweet item, say a donut - you have blown your daily goal unless you restrict carbs for the remainder of your day.
Most of the servings below contain 15 grams total carbohydrate. So, 45-60 grams carbohydrate would come from 3-4 servings of any of these foods. You can have a triple portion of only one item, or you can choose 3-4 different items per meal:
Fruits: cup fresh, frozen or canned fruit (in natural juices), 1 small apple, grapefruit, cup fruit juice
Grains/Starches: cup pasta/noodles, cup rice, cup cold cereal, cup hot cereal, 1 slice bread, bun, bagel or English muffin
Starchy Vegetables: cup corn; cup dried, cooked beans like kidney, pinto, garbanzo beans, etc.; cup potato or sweet potato
Milk: 1 cup milk (skim or 1 percent are healthiest for you)
Foods like plain meats, eggs, cheeses, fats and most vegetables do not have much carbohydrate. However, be sure to choose lower-fat meats and choose healthier oils like olive oil or canola oil, for good heart health. Also, be aware of the calories in the food choices which you make. Weight loss is frequently a goal of diabetic management.
Ask for nutritional information at restaurants - even the fast food restaurants are required to have this information for you. Call the office for free nutritional counseling with Cheryl.
Even if you are not a diabetic, you will feel so much better, have more energy and lose weight if you watch your carbohydrate intake. Don't cut carbs out completely - just eat good carbs and stay at a 45-60 grams per meal limit. Try it for a few days, you'll notice the difference.
Also, please remember to contribute toward your OFA nutrition services if you can. These programs are not sustainable at current levels without the support of participant contributions. Be aware that food stamps can be used toward your contribution. I do not want to have to make any further cuts to nutrition services. Thank you for your support.
Chautauqua County Office for the Aging Senior Nutrition Program provides nutritious noon meals at several Congregate Dining Sites throughout the county along with a Restaurant Dining Out Program. Our dietitian, Cheryl Wahlstrom, RD, is available for nutrition counseling in your home at no cost to you. We also sponsor several exercise programs. Call the office for more details and information. For more information, call 753-4471, 661-7471 or 363-4471.