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Diabetes Health Center

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The Facts About Carbs, Fiber, and Diabetes

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When you watch your diet because you have diabetes, you'll want to pay special attention to carbohydrates, because they can affect your blood sugar level faster than protein or fat.

You get carbs from sweets, fruit, milk, yogurt, bread, cereal, rice, pasta, potatoes, and other vegetables.

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It can help to count your carbs from things you eat or drink, and split them evenly between meals so that it’s in line with how much insulin is available from your body or from medicine. If you get more than your insulin supply can handle, your blood sugar level goes up. If you eat too few carbohydrates, your blood sugar level may fall too low.

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 meal plan.

Counting carbs is most useful for people who use insulin several times a day or wear an insulin pump, or want more flexibility and variety in their food choices. The amount and type of insulin you are prescribed may affect the flexibility of your meal plan.

You don’t have to count carbs. You could use diabetes food exchange lists instead. Ask your doctor or a registered dietitian for their advice on that.

How Fiber Helps

Fiber helps control blood sugar. It also helps you lower your “bad” (LDL) cholesterol.

Most Americans need more fiber in their diets. You get fiber from plant foods, so plan to eat more of these foods:

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

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Kathleen M. Zelman, MPH, RD, LD on January 19, 2015
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