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How Many Carbs Should You Eat in Each Meal? continued...

In general, it may be easiest to keep the amount of carbs you eat at each meal somewhat consistent. That way you don’t have to adjust your medications too much.

However, these are just basic ranges for the number of carbs to eat, says Dawn Sherr, a registered dietitian and spokeswoman for the American Association of Diabetes Educators.

“It’s individual to your needs and depends on what your goals are. Are you trying to lose weight? Are you trying to manage your cholesterol? Are there other issues going on with your health?” she says. “Always talk to your doctor, diabetes educator, or dietitian because they can help you adjust your carbohydrates to meet your goals.”

How Do You Know How Many Carbs Are in What You’re Eating?

Be mindful and check your portion sizes. Knowing how many carbs you’re eating can be tricky because it depends on serving size and how many servings you eat, says Toby Smithson, a registered dietitian and spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

“Nowadays we can get into the habit of eating our meals really fast and eating more than we think without even realizing it. We’re used to seeing larger portions in restaurants and packaging, and what we think is one serving may actually be two or three.”

Reading labels helps, but it’s best to experiment in your own kitchen, Smithson says. “Pour a serving into a measuring cup, and then pour it onto your plate or into your bowl to see how it looks. This will help you prepare for going out to restaurants or to your friends’ or relatives’ houses.”

Another strategy is to pour what you normally eat into your bowl first, then scoop it out with a measuring cup, Sherr says. “One person’s bowl of cereal is different from another’s. One person might be used to eating one serving of cereal for breakfast while another is used to eating two.”

Keep in mind that foods like fresh fruit can vary greatly by size, Smithson says. “An apple can be anywhere from 15 to 30 or even 45 grams of carbs depending on how big it is.”

There’s an app for that. Sherr encourages you to use technology. “Many restaurants have nutrition information on their web sites, and there are phone apps for common foods,” she says, adding that these can help you plan ahead when you’re going out to eat or doing your grocery shopping.