Every year the prevalence of diabetes continues to increase among Americans. Diabetes is characterized as a group of diseases that affects glucose levels within the blood and has been diagnosed in 13% of U.S. adults aged 18 and older.1 Diabetes impacts the body’s ability to properly utilize carbohydrates, therefore, those with diabetes need to be mindful of the amount of carbohydrates they consume and how it will impact their blood glucose levels.
The nutritional guidelines for those living with diabetes is based on a general, low carbohydrate diet with a Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of 130 grams of carbohydrates per day. Those with diabetes often practice ‘carbohydrate counting’, which includes counting the number of grams of carbohydrate in a meal. Carb counting is based on 15 grams of carbohydrates in one serving. A product or food item that is 15 grams of carbohydrates or less per serving would then be considered diabetic friendly and would not raise blood glucose levels to an unsafe amount.
A general rule for counting carbohydrates is:
- 3-4 servings of carbohydrates at each meal (45-60 g)
- 1-2 servings of carbohydrates for snacks (15-30 g)
- 4-5 servings of carbohydrates at each meal (60-75 g CHO)
- 1-2 servings of carbohydrates for snacks (15-30 g)
The diabetic exchange list can help to simplify carbohydrate counting as it lists different items that are around 15 grams of carbohydrates per serving. These products can be then swapped out in a daily meal plan and add variety, while ensuring blood sugar levels stay under control.
For instance, each of the following foods are considered one serving of carbohydrates, or 15 grams of carbs:
- 1/2 cup of cereal, grain, or pasta
- 1/2 cup of cooked vegetables or vegetable juice
- 1 cup of raw vegetables
- 1/2 cup of fresh fruit or fruit juice
- 1/4 cup dried fruit
- 1 cup of milk
- 6 oz of low-fat yogurt
Here is the entire diabetic exchange list, provided by the American Diabetes Association and the American Dietetic Association.
Understanding how to read product labels to identify diabetic friendly foods and products is another useful trick to controlling blood glucose levels. By assessing the total carbohydrates, fiber, and net carbohydrates on product labels, one can make informed choices on products to include in their diet.
Again, the carbohydrate counting rule of assessing 15 grams of carbohydrates is helpful in determining if a product is diabetic friendly or not.
Here’s an example:
|Total Fat 0g||0%|
|Saturated Fat 0g||0%|
|Trans Fat 0g||–|
|Total Carbs 15g||5%|
|Total Sugars 12g|
|Includes 9g Added Sugars||–|
TOTAL CARBS – FIBER = NET CARBS
In this product, the net amount of carbohydrates within this product is 15 grams. If this product contained any fiber, the fiber amount would be subtracted from the total carbohydrate count to equal net carbs, which is what will indicate if a product is diabetic friendly. This product is diabetic friendly as it contains exactly 15 grams of carbohydrates per serving.
Another example can be seen in the HealthWise “Vegetable Chili with Beans Light Entrée”:
Here we see that the total carbohydrate within the product is 9 g and total fiber is 6 g. Therefore, the net carbohydrates amount of this entrée is 3 g of carbohydrates per serving. This light entrée is a great meal for those with diagnosed or at risk for diabetes. In addition, the 15 grams of protein contained within this entrée makes it great for maintaining muscle and keeping you full throughout the day.
9 G – 6 G = 3 G
HealthWise has branded low carb food and high protein products, most of which are diabetic friendly.
Other HealthWise products that are diabetic friendly include:
- Aloha Mango Smoothie
- Berry Delicious Smoothie
- Sloppy Joe Light Entree
- Cheesesteak Pasta Light Entree
- Lemon Cream Lite Bars
- Chocolate Caramel Mug Cake
For a full list of diabetic friendly products by HealthWise, HealthWise-Diabetic-Products-2022
Studies show that there is a clear link between diabetes and body weight. Researchers have also seen that a reduction in 5-10% of body weight can show a clear improvement in blood sugar levels for those with diabetes. And for those who are at high risk for developing diabetes and who carry excess weight, their risk for developing diabetes can reduce by 58% with a 5-10% reduction in body weight.2
HealthWise provides over 200 weight loss products to practitioners to assist clients in their journey to overcoming overweight and obesity. Because most of these products are also diabetic friendly, consumers can both manage blood sugar levels and achieve weight loss goals with the help of HealthWise products.
1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Diabetes Statistics Report, 2020. Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Dept of Health and Human Services; 2020.
By Katie Chapmon, MS, RD
About the Author:
Katie Chapmon, MS, RD is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist specializing in Bariatric Nutrition, GI Issues and Hormonal Health and with 10+ years of hands-on clinical experience for leading medical providers. She is the proud recipient of the 2010 Recognized Young Dietitian of the Year Award and 2018 Excellence in Weight Management Practice Award through the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
She spent the first decade of her career as the lead dietitian for Kaiser Permanente Southern California. For the past several years, she has been working with industry partners and consumers to improve nutrition education within the field and maintains a virtual private practice. In April 2021, she launched Bariatric Nutrition Pro – to provide healthcare practitioners education to start (or continue!) their bariatric career with the confidence and knowledge to succeed.
She is a past Chair of the American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Integrated Health Clinical Issues Committee and Chapter author of the 3rd Edition of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Pocket Guide to Bariatric Surgery. She is a national speaker and enjoys time hiking and cooking in the kitchen.