Understanding food labels

By BB42 Latest Reply 2013-07-09 07:15:16 -0500
Started 2013-07-04 12:19:54 -0500

There is something that I find confusing and I hope someone can help me understand how to read the Carbohydrate section of the nutrition labels on foods.I posted to Ask and Expert last month and never got a response. I have also asked a diabetes counselor without much help. So, here is my question. I was looking at Nutritional Values labels for tortilla chips. What I read was something like:
19 grams of carbohydrates
0 grams of sugar
2 grams of fiber
Is this something someone with Type 2 diabetes can eat without worry ( 0 grams sugar) or does the total of 19 grams carbohydrate mean "stay away"? Any help would be greatly appreciated

13 replies

Nick1962 2013-07-05 19:02:46 -0500 Report

Just to add a little wrinkle to everyone’s already good answers, don’t swear off carbs totally. Yes, they are very important to watch, but there are some that are beneficial – loaded with fiber (as Bun10 points out) and protein. A whole cup of peanuts has about 22 grams of carbs, but also brings along 14g of fiber and a whopping 40g of protein. Those are some significantly beneficial carbs. I have eaten a whole cup in one day (as snacks) which left me pretty full and satisfied enough to make my meals very small. Beans bring beneficial fiber and protein as well.
Bottom line, don’t look at a label solely for the carb content and decide “not good” – it’s the “valueless” carbs you want to stay away from.

GabbyPA 2013-07-05 07:35:06 -0500 Report

All carbohydrates need to be counted. If it is high in "sugar" carbohydrates, it will tend to spike someone really hard. Not that total carbs on something won't, but the "sugar" portion is what is coming from actual sugars and not other ingredients such as grains. That is why sugar free stuff is not carb free. Don't let that label fool you.

As Snuggles11 is saying, about 15 grams of carbs equal a serving. You want between 30-60 grams per meal and about 15 for your snacks. So your 19 grams will make a little over one serving of carbs for your meal.

Here is my favorite video for showing how to count carbs: http://www.diabeticconnect.com/diabetes-videos/39-my-life-as-a-pin-cushion-carb-counting

BB42 2013-07-05 10:23:20 -0500 Report

Thank you for the explaination and the great video. That really helps And a sincere thank to all who have responded and helped me makes sense of carbohydrate counting

snuggles11 2013-07-04 23:40:35 -0500 Report

I go by total carbs
So if you're saying this has 19 g of total carbs
Out of those 15 g out of the 19 equal one carb
So that means 15 + 15=30 which is two carbs
How bad do I have you confused?

Bun10 2013-07-04 18:58:36 -0500 Report

Simply put, carbs = sugar. Understanding carbs is not simply put. With diabetes you want fiber, fiber, fiber but not so much that you upset your bowel. There are good carbs and bad carbs. Maybe looking at the Glycemic index would help you understand. Some carbs go into your mouth, hit your stomach and shoot right into your bloodstream as sugar. You want to eat fibrous carbs. When you buy cereal, look for one with 5 gms of fiber. At the least, 3 gms but look for 5. I'll use my old example of potatoes that others are tired of hearing me say. White potatoes and sweet potatoes have the same amount of carbs. BUT the white potatoes (starch breaks down to sugar) shoot sugar right into your blood stream. Sweet potatoes are fibrous so they "gradually" enter your bloodstream NOT flooding it with sugar. Those 19 gms of tortilla carbs are a starch which we know breaks down to sugar. I try to limit myself to18 gms of carbs for a snack, 40 for a meal. Be sure to read how many chips or whatever are in a serving. When I want something salty and crunchy I have Kellogg sour cream and onion cracker chips. A serving is 27 chips and maybe 29 carbs. No way can I eat 27 chips! They come in several flavors. 15 chips would be a snack size. I'm not saying that is a nutritious snack. Just that when you really want a crunchy fix this could work with a little avocado. Hope this helps with your label reading. by the way, those sugar alcohols are not your friend either. Check the calories as well. See how much sodium is in it. Sodium is very bad for high blood pressure. I try to keep a meal about 400 ms of sodium. Prepared foods frequently have 800 up! Buy salt free whenever you can. That doesn't mean you have to eat it that way. It means you can control the Amy of salt you put in it. I like McCormick salt free Perfect Pinch. I use herb and garlic or just pepper and garlic but three is citrus and others like southwestern. Back to carbs, don't eliminate carbs! You need them for energy. Just learn which ones to eat and which ones to avoid.

BB42 2013-07-05 06:35:50 -0500 Report

Thank you very much. Your response is very informative. I try and stay away from as many carbs as I can. I know fiber is good for me and that starches are not.. I am learning to use the Glycemic index which is a very big help.

snuggles11 2013-07-04 23:35:21 -0500 Report

Be careful of Mccormicks
Garlic and pepper
Read the ingredients the other day
It has brown sugar in it!
And I did not realize that and I had been using
And I'm a type 2

GabbyPA 2013-07-05 07:37:17 -0500 Report

Sadly, most processed spices have sugar in them. Even vanilla extracts can have some in it. We really have to read those label on everything. It's crazy, but it helps us find out what is going on. McCormick's is not the only one either. So read the labels.

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