My mom has type 2 diabetes, but is confused on how to count sugar grams in foods and how carbohydrates map to sugar grams.

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I have a question for you. My mom has diabetes type 2, but is confused on how to count sugar grams in foods and how carbohydrates map to sugar grams if they do. Can you point me to some reference material that I could pass along to her?

Sugar is a carbohydrate and 1 level teaspoon has 4 grams of carbohydrate. There is not a specific way to predict how many grams of sugar is in a food with x amount of carbohydrate as it depends on whether the sugar is naturally occurring or added to a packaged food. The Nutrition Facts on a
food label will list sugar grams from all sources (natural occurring or added sugar) as part of the carbohydrate in a food. But counting sugar grams is not necessary for a person with diabetes.

Starch, fruit, and milk diabetic exchanges have approximately the same number of grams of carbohydrate and each is counted as 1 carbohydrate choice (serving size varies with the food). Diabetic nutrition therapy is designed to count carbohydrate choices (1 carbohydrate choice has 15 grams carbohydrate). So a person on a carbohydrate counting eating plan counts the number of starch, fruit, and milk exchange servings eaten each meal each day using a plan that keeps their blood glucose within normal ranges which is 70 to 105 milligrams per deciliter. Usually, 2 to 4 carbohydrate choices (depending on calorie and weight goals) are eaten per meal and 1 carbohydrate choice as a snack between meals to spread out the carbohydrate intake over a day which helps to even out highs and lows of blood glucose levels.

I would suggest your mom make an appointment to see a registered dietitian to help plan her meals and determine the number of carbohydrate choices per day based on her weight and blood glucose goals. The dietitian can provide her with a booklet on carbohydrate counting from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The booklets Basic or Advanced Carbohydrate Counting) explains how carbohydrate counting works.