House Call: Carbs

Whether you’re trying to lose weight or simply balance your blood sugar, carbs play a big role. Dr. Dani Dolin joins us to help us get carb smart , Diabetic Educator at Bridgeport Endocrinology.

1). What are carbs and what role do these play in our daily diet?

Carbohydrates or “carbs” get a lot of attention these days and you may wonder if you should even eat them at all. The fact is that food is made up of three main things: carbohydrate, protein, and fat. You need all of these to stay healthy, but the amounts that each person needs or chooses to eat may be very different. The most important thing is choosing the carbs that give you the most bang for your buck in terms of vitamins, minerals, and fiber.

Refined carbs are things like white bread and sugar-sweetened drinks that tend to cause spikes in blood sugar. You’ve probably heard these called empty carbs, or even ‘empty calories.’

The main purpose of carbs in the diet is to provide energy as your body’s main fuel source. Therefore, carbs plus the amount of insulin you have in your body determine your blood sugar levels and have a big impact on how you feel.

2). You mentioned refined carbs, what are some good carbs that we should consider?

Foods that contain carbohydrate or “carbs” are:

· grains like rice, oatmeal, and barley

· grain-based foods like bread, cereal, pasta, and crackers

· starchy vegetables like potatoes, peas and corn

· fruit and juice

· milk and yogurt

· dried beans like pinto beans and soy products like veggie burgers

3). How much carbohydrates should you consume?

The best place to start is to figure out how many carbs you are eating at your meals and snacks now. Tracking your food intake and your blood sugar before and about 2 hours after your meals for a few days can provide useful information for you and your diabetes care team to see how different meals impact your blood glucose and determine the right amount of carbs. This is also good even if your not a diabetic.

4). So I know what carbs I should consume, now how do I count carbs?

Reading food labels will tell you how much carb is in foods that tend to be processed. Foods without labels such as fruits and vegetables are often better options and you can learn to estimate how much carbohydrate is in these.

Carb counting is easier when the information is on the food label. You can look at how much carbohydrate is in the serving of food you plan to eat. The two items on the label that are most useful are the serving size and the total carbohydrate amount.

· Look at the serving size. All the information on the label is about this amount of food. If you will be eating 2 or 3

servings, then you will need to double or triple the information on the label.

· Look at the grams of total carbohydrate.

· Added sugars and other bullets below the total carbohydrate listing are included in the total carbohydrate. These are called out to provide more information about what you are eating.

· Finding the right balance of carbs, calories, and portions that will satisfy you can take time and may also change as other factors in your life change.