One of the first words you hear when diagnosed with type 2 diabetes is "carbohydrate"—otherwise known as "carbs." But what exactly is a carbohydrate?

First, it's important to understand that every single one of your daily meals is made up of three main macronutrients: carbohydrates, protein, and fat. And carbs, more than protein and fat, affect blood sugar levels, which is why they're important to us.

Carbohydrates are found in three forms: starch, sugar, and fiber. Maybe you've heard that you have to avoid some "high-carb" foods. These could be white potatoes, corn, and yams (starch), baked goods like cookies or cake or fruits like apples and pears (sugar), and breads and some non-starchy vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, and onions (fiber).

But remember: not all carbs are equal. When we eat foods that are higher in fiber content, generally fruits and vegetables, they are processed more slowly in our gut and the release of glucose is much slower. Knowing this will help you make the best carb choices to stay within your daily carb limits while also feeding your body the nutrients it needs to keep up with your busy life.

Where do you find carbohydrates?

· Grains
· Vegetables
· Fruits
· Legumes (beans and peas)
· Dairy
· Processed foods
· Grains
· Vegetables
· Fruits
· Legumes (beans and peas)
· Dairy
· Processed foods

How do you know a good carb from a bad carb? The glycemic index can help.

The glycemic index can help you determine whether a food will spike your blood glucose so you can make better food choices. It "classifies carbohydrates based on how quickly and how high they boost blood sugar compared to pure glucose."

Foods with a high glycemic index, like white bread, cause rapid spikes in blood sugar. Foods with a low glycemic index, like whole oats, are digested more slowly, causing a lower and gentler change in blood sugar. You want the latter to help maintain a stable blood sugar level.