Amy Tenderich was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in May of 2003. She is the founder and editor-in-chief of Diabetes Mine and co-authored the book Know Your Numbers, Outlive Your Diabetes. You will frequently find her speaking at diabetes, health, and social media events across the country.

Not sure what a carb is? Here’s the basic definition:

Carbohydrates are the sugars and starches found in grains, fruits, vegetables, and dairy products. This includes all sugary foods like sweets, fruit, and sugar itself, along with grains and starchy foods (pasta, potatoes, rice) that break down to glucose in your body.

Carbohydrates are ALL the foods either made up primarily of sugar or those that convert to sugar in your system, including starches like potatoes, bread, and pasta. Things like candy and muffins are obvious carbohydrates, but many are not so obvious.

Keep in mind

  • Most carbs have the same effect on your body, whether they’re in the form of a candy bar or a baked potato. (See tip 2 for exceptions.)
  •  “Sugar-free” is not carb-free. Don’t let marketing labels fool you into believing that some carbs don’t count.
  • Fiber does the trick. High fiber content in a food (more than five grams per serving) can reduce the impact of the carbohydrate of that food on your blood glucose.

As a person with diabetes, it’s critical for you to be aware of the carbohydrate content of your food because limiting carbohydrates is an important tool for regulating both your daily blood glucose levels and your A1c over time.

Other Tips in This Series:

Tip 2: There Really ARE Good and Bad Carbs
Tip 3: How to Avoid Carb Overload
Tip 4: How to Learn and Practice Carb-Counting
Tip 5: What a Nutritionist Can Do for You