Carbohydrates: What do they do?
Carbohydrates break down quickly in the body and enter the bloodstream as glucose (blood sugar). This is why your blood sugar rises after meals and snacks that include carbohydrates. In response to this increase in your blood sugar, your body produces insulin, a hormone made in the pancreas. Insulin transports the blood sugar from the blood stream into the cells in your body. The cells then use the glucose for energy.
You can manage how high your blood sugar rises after a meal by controlling the amount of carbohydrates you eat during meals and snacks. The American Diabetes Association recommends the following carbohydrate amounts:
Meals: 45-60 grams (3-4 servings of carbohydrate)
Snacks: 15-30 grams (1-2 servings of carbohydrate)
Managing your Carbohydrates
By managing your carbohydrates, you are taking a big step toward managing your blood sugar. Carbohydrates can be controlled using any of the following methods: carbohydrate counting, serving sizes and exchanges. Review each method and decide which is best for you:
TIP: A healthy meal includes a variety of carbohydrates, proteins, heart-healthy fats and non-starchy vegetables.
Carbohydrate counting: Learn to count the grams of carbohydrates in your diet.
Serving Sizes: Manage your carbohydrates by learning to recognize a serving size using a chart, book or other resource.
Exchanges: Another way to manage carbohydrates that is similar to using serving sizes.