Skip to content

Diabetes Health Center

Reading Food Labels When You Have Diabetes

Font Size
A
A
A

Reading food labels can help you make better decisions about the food you eat and how you manage your diabetes.

Just about every packaged food made in the U.S. has a food label indicating serving size and other nutritional information. The "Nutrition Facts" food labels are intended to give you information about the specific packaged food in question.

Measurements of fat, cholesterol, sodium, carbohydrate, protein, vitamins, and minerals are calculated for a typical portion. This information makes it easier for you to purchase foods that will fit into your meal plan and help control your blood sugar, cholesterol, blood pressure, and weight. However, reading these labels can be confusing. Below is an example of a Nutrition Facts label, along with explanations of its components.

nutritionfacts

 

Serving Size: Serving size is a standardized measurement based on the amount of food people typically eat at a given meal. This may or may not be the serving amount you normally eat. It is important that you pay attention to the serving size, including the number of servings in the package and compare it to how much you actually eat. The size of the serving on the food package influences all the nutrient amounts listed on the top part of the label. For example, if a package has 4 servings and you eat the entire package, you quadruple the calories, fat, etc. that are listed on the label.

Do not confuse portion size with serving size. A portion size is what you chose to eat -- there are no standard measures for this. A serving size is a standard amount used to help give advice about how much to eat. It helps you identify how many calories are in the foods you eat and what the nutritional content would be in a serving size. For example a slice of bread is a serving size of one for bread on the food pyramid. Yet if you eat a sandwich with 2 slices of bread, you would have had 2 servings of bread in your portion.

Calories and Calories From Fat: This tells you how much energy (calories) you get from a serving of the food. It also tells you how much of that energy comes from fat.

1 | 2 | 3

Is This Normal? Get the Facts Fast!

Check Your Blood Sugar Level Now
What type of diabetes do you have?
Your gender:

Get the latest Diabetes newsletter delivered to your inbox!


or
Answer:
Low
0-69
Normal
70-130
High
131+

Your level is currently

If the level is below 70 or you are experiencing symptoms such as shaking, sweating or difficulty thinking, you will need to raise the number immediately. A quick solution is to eat a few pieces of hard candy or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey. Recheck your numbers again in 15 minutes to see if the number has gone up. If not, repeat the steps above or call your doctor.

People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.

Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.

However, it's important to continue to track your numbers so that you can make lifestyle changes if needed. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.

Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.

One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Did You Know Your Lifestyle Choices
Affect Your Blood Sugar?

Use the Blood Glucose Tracker to monitor
how well you manage your blood sugar over time.

Get Started

This tool is not intended for women who are pregnant.

Start Over

Step:  of 

Today on WebMD

Diabetic tools
Symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and more.
woman flexing muscles
10 strength training exercises.
 
Blood sugar test
12 practical tips.
Tom Hanks
Stars living with type 1 or type 2.
 
Woman serving fast food from window
Video
Can Vinegar Treat Diabetes
Video
 
Middle aged person
Tool
are battery operated toothbrushes really better
Video
 

Prediabetes How to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
Article
type 2 diabetes
Slideshow
 
food fitness planner
Tool
Are You at Risk for Dupuytrens Contracture
Article