- Serving size. This can hold some surprises. Be sure you’re not pouring a cup or two of cereal when the serving size is only one-half cup.
- Carbohydrates. One method of meal planning for people with diabetes is to count carbohydrates. Look for the total number of carbohydrates in the foods you eat.
- Fiber. This can help lower cholesterol and aid in digestion. Bonus: If there are 5 grams or more of fiber in a product, subtract half of the fiber grams from the total carbohydrate grams to get a more accurate carb count.
- Total fat. Try to avoid saturated and trans fat. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats help reduce cholesterol. Remember that a gram of fat has more than twice as many calories as a gram of carbohydrate, even if it’s a “healthy” fat.
- Sodium. Sodium, or salt, has nothing to do with blood sugar levels, but it may raise blood pressure. Keep your daily intake under 2,300 milligrams or less.
- Calories. Check this number if you want to lose or maintain your weight.
A Answers (3)
Stacy Wiegman, PharmD, Pharmacy, answeredHere’s what to look for on food labels if you have diabetes:
American Diabetes Association answeredThe information on the left side of food labels provides total amounts of different nutrients per serving. To make wise food choices, check the total amounts for:
- total fat
- total carbohydrate
- sugar alcohol
- list of ingredients
Intermountain Healthcare answeredIt is very important to read food labels if you have diabetes. The most critical aspect for you and your diabetes is the serving size and the total carbohydrates (or carbs), as the amount of carbs you eat will affect your blood glucose.
Here are some important tips to remember when checking food labels:
- Always check the serving size and number of servings per container. The nutrition facts are based on a single serving -- not the whole container -- so pay close attention.
- The total carbohydrate is the number you should use to tell how many grams of carbs you’re eating. So remember to multiply the carbs by the number of servings you eat and to choose foods higher in dietary fiber. These carbs are healthier and have a less dramatic effect on your blood glucose.
- Also note that the total carbohydrate includes fiber. If a food contains five or more grams of fiber in a serving, you can subtract the fiber amount from the total carbohydrate amount. For example, if a slice of whole-wheat bread has 20 grams (g) of total carbohydrate and 5 g of fiber, subtract 5 g from the total carbohydrate amount to get 15 g of total carbohydrate per serving.