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Dec.17.2020
 Carbohydrate Counting for Diabetes Mellitus, Pediatric

Carbohydrate Counting for Diabetes Mellitus, Pediatric

Carbohydrate counting is a method of keeping track of how many carbohydrates your child eats. Eating carbohydrates naturally increases the amount of sugar (glucose) in the blood. Counting how many carbohydrates your child eats improves blood glucose control, which can help you manage your child's diabetes.
It is important to know how many carbohydrates your child can safely have in each meal. This is different for every child. A dietitian can help you make a meal plan and calculate how many carbohydrates your child should have at each meal and snack.

What foods contain carbohydrates?

Carbohydrates are found in the following foods:
  • Grains, such as breads and cereals.
  • Dried beans and soy products.
  • Starchy vegetables, such as potatoes, peas, and corn.
  • Fruit and fruit juices.
  • Milk and yogurt.
  • Sweets and snack foods, such as cake, cookies, candy, chips, and soft drinks.

How do I count carbohydrates in foods?

There are two ways to count carbohydrates in food. You can read food labels or learn standard serving sizes of foods. You can use either of the methods or a combination of both.

Using the Nutrition Facts label

The Nutrition Facts list is included on the labels of almost all packaged foods and beverages in the U.S. It includes:
  • The serving size.
  • Information about nutrients in each serving, including the grams (g) of carbohydrate per serving.
To use the Nutrition Facts:
  • Decide how many servings your child will have.
  • Multiply the number of servings by the number of carbohydrates per serving.
  • The resulting number is the total amount of carbohydrates that your child will be having.

Learning the standard serving sizes of foods

When your child eats carbohydrate foods that are not packaged or do not include Nutrition Facts on the label, you need to measure the servings in order to count the amount of carbohydrates.
  • Measure the foods that your child will eat with a food scale or measuring cup, if needed.
  • Decide how many standard-size servings your child will eat.
  • Multiply the number of servings by 15. For foods that contain carbohydrates, one serving equals 15 g of carbohydrates.
    • For example, if your child eats 2 cups or 10 oz (300 g) of strawberries, he or she will have eaten 2 servings and 30 g of carbohydrates (2 servings x 15 g = 30 g).
  • For foods that have more than one food mixed, such as soups and casseroles, you must count the carbohydrates in each food that is included.
The following list contains standard serving sizes of common carbohydrate-rich foods. Each of these servings has about 15 g of carbohydrates:
  • 1 slice of bread.
  • 1 six-inch (15 cm) tortilla.
  • ⅓ cup or 2 oz (53 g) cooked rice or pasta.
  • ½ cup or 3 oz (85 g) cooked or canned, drained and rinsed beans or lentils.
  • ½ cup or 3 oz (85 g) starchy vegetable, such as peas, corn, or squash.
  • ½ cup or 4 oz (120 g) hot cereal.
  • ½ cup or 3 oz (85 g) boiled or mashed potatoes, or ¼ or 3 oz (85 g) of a large baked potato.
  • ½ cup or 4 fl oz (118 mL) fruit juice.
  • 1 cup or 8 fl oz (237 mL) milk.
  • 1 small or 4 oz (106 g) apple.
  • ½ or 2 oz (63 g) of a medium banana.
  • 1 cup or 5 oz (150 g) strawberries.
  • 3 cups or 1 oz (24 g) popped popcorn.

What is an example of carbohydrate counting?

To calculate the number of carbohydrates in this sample meal, follow the steps shown below.

Sample meal

  • 3 oz (85 g) chicken breast.
  • 1 cup or 8 fl oz (237 mL) milk.
  • 1 cup or 5 oz (150 g) strawberries.
  • 1 slice of toast.

Carbohydrate calculation

  1. Identify the foods that contain carbohydrates:
    • Milk.
    • Strawberries.
    • Toast.
  2. Calculate how many servings your child has of each food:
    • 1 serving milk.
    • 1 serving strawberries.
    • 1 serving toast.
  3. Multiply each number of servings by 15 g:
    • 1 serving milk x 15 g = 15 g.
    • 1 serving strawberries x 15 g = 15 g.
    • 1 serving toast x 15 g = 15 g.
  4. Add together all of the amounts to find the total grams of carbohydrates eaten:
    • 15 g + 15 g + 15 g = 45 g of carbohydrates total.

What are tips for following this plan?

Shopping

  • Develop a meal plan and then make a shopping list.
  • Buy fresh and frozen vegetables, fresh and frozen fruit, dairy, eggs, beans, lentils, and whole grains.
  • Look at food labels. Choose foods that have more fiber and less sugar.
  • Avoid processed foods and foods with added sugars.

Meal planning

  • Aim to give your child the same amount of carbohydrates at each meal and for each snack time.
  • Plan to have regular, balanced meals and snacks.

Where to find more information

Summary

  • Carbohydrate counting is a method of keeping track of how many carbohydrates your child eats.
  • Eating carbohydrates naturally increases the amount of sugar (glucose) in the blood.
  • Counting how many carbohydrates your child eats improves your child's blood glucose control, which can help you manage your child's diabetes.
  • A dietitian can help you make a meal plan and calculate how many carbohydrates your child should have at each meal and snack.

This information is not intended to replace advice given to you by your health care provider. Make sure you discuss any questions you have with your health care provider.

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