June 11, 2012

ABC of Carbohydrate Choices

This week I received following question from Foodpicker.org

I am very confused.  I have been told to have 3-4 carbohydrate choices at each meal.  Could you help me figure out what one of these carbohydrates equates to?  Is it one gram of carbohydrate or one item containing carbohydrate?  Please help! 

In diabetes meal planning 1 carbohydrate choice =  15 grams of Carbohydrate. Its also known as 1carbohydrate exchange or 1serving. For example if your are told to have 3-4 carbohydrate choices at each meal than it  is equal to 45-60 grams of carbohydrate for each meal.

Accurate portion sizes are very important while using carbohydrate choices to manage your diabetes. Check serving sizes with measuring cups and spoons or a food scale. Read the nutrition facts on the food labels to find out how many grams of carbohydrate are in foods you eat. Eating the same amount of carbohydrate at the same meals and snacks helps to manage stable blood sugar.

Food lists below shows portions that have about 15 grams of carbohydrate (1 exchange or 1 choice). It can help you to substitute one carbohydrate containing food for another and choose from variety of food groups for healthy well-balanced meal. 

  • 1 slice bread (chose more of  whole grain or wheat variety)
  • 1/2 small bagel, English Muffin or pita bread
  • 1/2 small hamburger or hot dog bun
  • 1 tortilla (6-inch)
  • 2 taco shells (5-inch)
  • 1/2 cup cooked cereal or bulgur
  • 3/4 cup ready-to-eat cereal (unsweetened)
  • 1/3 cup cooked pasta or rice (chose more of brown variety)
  • 4-6 small crackers
  • 1 cup broth based soup
  • 1/2 cup cooked beans, lentils, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, yam, peas or corn
  • 1 small boiled potato or 1/4 large baked potatoes (3 oz)
  • 3 cups popcorn, popped (chose unbuttered)
  • 1 small fresh fruit (about 4 oz)
  • 1 cup melon or berries
  • 1/2 cup canned fruit (without added sugar, if its with added sugar drain and rinse before use)
  • 1/4 cup dried fruit (2 Tbsp)
  • 15-17  grapes
  • 1/2 cup fruit juice 
  • 1 cup fat free or low fat milk
  • 2/3 cup fat free or light plain yogurt (can be sweetened with sugar free sweetener)
  • 1 cup soy milk
  • 2-inch square cake (unfrosted)
  • 2 small cookies
  • 1/2 cup ice-cream or frozen yogurt
  • 1/4 cup sherbet or sorbet
  • 1 tbsp syrup, jam, jelly, table sugar or honey
  • 2 tbsp light syrup 
  • 1 cup raw vegetable or 1/2 cup cooked non-starchy vegetables are counted as free foods (zero carbohydrate). But if you eat 3 or more servings at one meal count it as 1 carbohydrate exchange.
  • Foods that have less than 20 calories are free foods 

Reference: American Dietetic Association, American Diabetic Association

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