Counting carbs can help people with diabetes have high blood sugar. Having diabetes means the pancreas does not produce enough insulin, or the insulin produced is ineffective to control the level of sugar in the blood.
Tricks or Treats?
It can be tricky, but your diabetes can be managed with diet, exercise and medicine, if prescribed. The treat for you is better health. Counting carbs can help with your diet.
Type 2 & YOU
The most common kind of diabetes in older adults is Type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes can contribute to heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, blindness, nerve damage and circulation problems that lead to amputation.
Control Carbs and Balancing Your Blood Sugar
Does Counting Carbs Scare You?
Of the three nutrients — protein, carbs and fat — carbs have the greatest impact on blood sugar control because the body breaks them down into glucose. The body needs insulin to control blood sugar. Diabetics are deficient in insulin or resistant to its effects. Eat too many carbs and your blood sugar goes up. It can rise dangerously unless medication is taken. How many carbs is the right amount?
This varies with the individual, but research shows that moderate carb restriction of 70 to 90 carbs per day, or 20% of calories from carbs is effective.
To figure out your ideal amount of carbs, you may want to measure your blood glucose with a meter before a meal and again 1 to 2 hours after eating.
As long as your blood sugar remains below 140 mg/dL (8 mmol/L), the point at which damage to nerves can occur, you can consume 6 grams, 10 grams or 25 grams of carbs per meal on a low-carb diet.
It all depends on your personal tolerance. Just remember that the general rule is the less carbs you eat, the less your blood sugar will rise.
A healthy low-carb diet should include nutrient-dense, high-fiber carb sources like vegetables, berries, nuts and seeds. Starches and sugars raise blood sugar levels, but dietary fiber does not. Sugar alcohols like maltitol, xylitol and erythritol which are used to sweeten sugar free candy and other diet products may also raise blood sugar.
Good low-carb choices
Meats, poultry, seafood, eggs, cheese, non-starchy vegetables, avocados, olives, olive oil, coconut oil, butter, cream, sour cream and cream cheese.
Foods to eat in moderation
Berries, plain Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, nuts and peanuts, milk, flaxseeds and chia seeds, dark chocolate, winter squash, red and white wine
Avoid these foods
Breads, pasta, cereal, corn and other grains, fruit, juice, soda, sweet tea, beer, desserts, baked goods, candy, ice cream.
Starchy vegetables like potatoes, sweet potatoes and yams, and legumes such a peas, lentils and beans are healthy but high in carbs.
Talk to your doctor first! If you go on a low carb diet, you may need to have your insulin adjusted.
Eat Right and Get Active
Change what you eat and how much you eat. Focus less on high-starch food. Eat more fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy and whole grains. Combined with increased activity and you will experience weight loss which leads to better blood sugar levels.
If you have diabetes, you know it’s important to control glucose levels:
- Take your medicines as prescribed
- Make healthy food choices and get daily exercise
- Get your eyes and kidneys checked each year
- Care for teeth and gums and see the dentist twice each year
- Get the A1C test at least twice a year to check your average blood glucose levels
- Protect your skin, check your feet and watch your cholesterol and blood pressure
AW Can Help Manage Your Diabetes
Making healthy food and lifestyle choices is important for people with diabetes. AW can help you with proper meal planning and preparation, including a daily menu and shopping list. Exercise is important too. AW caregivers can provide individualized exercise plans.
AW can also help you monitor your blood sugar with daily blood glucose checks and medication reminders. Some people take oral medications. Others require injections to manage their blood sugar. In either case, AW has the skilled professionals who can provide these services.
Because diabetes can cause complications, special care may be needed when dressing, bathing and caring for the feet. AW can provide this needed care. With treatment and healthy living, many people with diabetes are able to avoid serious complications such as vision loss, nerve damage and high blood pressure.