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Eating right is a big part of managing your diabetes. It can make a big difference in keeping your blood sugar level under control.

When you're building your diet, four of the main things to focus on are carbs, fiber, fat, and salt. Here's what you should know about each of them.

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Carbs

Carbs give you fuel. They affect your blood sugar faster than fats or protein.

Carbohydrates are mainly found in the following food groups:

  • Fruit
  • Milk and yogurt
  • Bread, cereal, rice, pasta
  • Starchy vegetables like potatoes, corn, and beans

Some carbs are simple, like sugar. Other carbs are complex, like those found in beans, nuts, vegetables, and whole grains.

Complex carbohydrates are better for you because they take longer for your body to digest, giving you a steady source of energy. They also give you fiber.

What Is Carbohydrate Counting?

Carbohydrate counting is keeping track of the carbs you eat each day. Counting grams of carbohydrate, and splitting them evenly between meals, will help you control your blood sugar.

If you eat more carbohydrates than your insulin supply can handle, your blood sugar level goes up. If you eat too little, your blood sugar level may fall too low. These fluctuations can be managed by knowing how to count your carbohydrate intake.

You monitor how much carbohydrate (sugar and starch) you eat daily. One carbohydrate serving equals 15 grams of carbohydrates.

A registered dietitian can help you figure out a carbohydrate counting plan that meets your specific needs. For adults, a typical plan includes three to four carbohydrate servings at each meal, and one to two carbohydrate servings as snacks.

With carbohydrate counting, you can pick almost any food product off the shelf, read the label, and use the information about grams of carbohydrates to fit the food into your type 2 diabetes meal plan.

Carbohydrate counting is most useful for people who take multiple daily injections of insulin, use the insulin pump, or want more flexibility and variety in their food choices. But anyone can use it.

Fiber

Fiber comes from plant foods. It helps with digestion and blood sugar control. Fiber also makes you feel fuller, so you eat less, which is a plus if you need to lose weight.

High-fiber diets are linked to lower odds of getting high blood pressure and heart disease.

Most Americans don't eat enough fiber. The best way to get more fiber is to eat more of these fiber-rich foods:

  • Fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Cooked dried beans and peas
  • Whole-grain breads, cereals, and crackers
  • Brown rice
  • Bran products

Fat

Diabetes makes you more likely to get heart disease. So limiting fat, especially saturated fat and artificial trans fats, is key.

The main sources of saturated fats are cheese, beef, milk, and baked items.

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