shugarsnaps

Q:

How many grams are in a teaspoon, tablespoon, and packet of sugar? Everything is labeled in grams of sugar and I just need a visual on what it looks like. What is max amount grams of sugar a diabetic can have daily? I was told no more than 6 grams.

Amy Campbell

A:

One packet of sugar contains about 4 grams of carbohydrate, all of which come from sugar, a type of carbohydrate. A teaspoon of sugar also contains 4 grams of carb. A tablespoon of sugar contains 12 grams of carb (there are three teaspoons in a tablespoon). So, for every 4 grams of sugar that you see on a Nutrition Facts food label, you can picture a teaspoon or a packet of sugar. However, while it’s important to limit your sugar intake for both blood glucose and weight control, what’s more important (and helpful) is to consider the total amount of carbohydrate that you need for the day, and for each of your meals. Sugar is one type of carbohydrate, but there are other sources of carbohydrate in your diet, too, like bread, pasta and cereal. The form of carbohydrate in these foods is starch. Starch, like sugar, turns into blood glucose so it needs to be “counted” in your eating plan. For this reason, it’s more important to look at the “Total Carbohydrate” grams on a food label, rather than grams of sugar (the sugar is included in the total carbohydrate grams). Many people with diabetes use a meal planning method called “carbohydrate counting.” With this approach, a dietitian helps you determine how much carbohydrate is best for you for your meals and snacks each day. The amount of carb that you need depends on many factors, including your weight, age, gender and activity level. I suggest that you ask your physician for a referral to a dietitian to learn more about carb counting or a meal planning approach that will work best for you. In the meantime, if you’d like to get started with carb counting before you see a dietitian, a good guide is to aim for between 45 and 60 grams of carbohydrate for each of your meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner) and about 15 grams of carbohydrate for any snacks that you might eat.