4 Tips on Eating Carbohydrates for Blood Sugar Management

by Tiffany Naticchioni, RDN, LD

Last Updated: November 17, 2020

Blood sugar management can feel tricky to navigate. Have you ever been confused about what or how much to eat, or if carbohydrates are healthy? If so, keep reading for our four tips on how to select and eat carbohydrates for managing blood sugar levels. While each person’s diet is unique, using these helpful tips can increase your mindfulness around mealtime, and help you use your favorite carbohydrate foods to feel your best.

How do I choose a food with carbohydrates?
Choose carbohydrate foods that are nutrient-dense, rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and low in added sugars, sodium, and unhealthy fats. Pick what you like. There is no need to eat a meal plan that isn’t suited to your personal taste. Carbohydrates are found in fruits, vegetables, dairy and grains. Protein foods like meat, poultry, seafood, and nuts/seeds do not typically contain carbohydrates unless they are added in. This means you have a wide variety of foods to choose from. When you’re planning a meal, it is beneficial to get at least three of the five food groups in their proper serving size, as this will guarantee adequate nutrition for that meal.

How do I know how much to have?
Every nutrition label identifies the serving size, which can help us understand how much carbohydrate is in a food. It can be easy to “eat with your eyes,” but it can be extra beneficial to measure and eat foods in their portion size to balance your nutrient intake. Consider using measuring cups/utensils or a food scale as you become more familiar with what a portion size should look like. If you aren’t ready to modify your portions yet, simply measuring these foods before eating your typical portion can help create awareness around how much you are currently having.

How many carbohydrates should I eat per meal?
Choosing foods with carbohydrates is the first step, but how do you know how many carbohydrates to have per meal? There is no standard recommendation since macronutrient needs are unique to each person based on health conditions, age, height, weight, etc. The number of carbohydrates per day and meal can vary based on your lifestyle and how active you are. One consideration that is exclusive to any person looking to balance their blood sugar is consistency. It is recommended that you keep your carbohydrate intake consistent to avoid high and low blood sugar, as experiencing both can potentially be dangerous in the short and/or long term. For more information on carbohydrate counting and other methods for managing intake, visit the American Diabetes Association’s website.

Who can I turn to for help managing my blood sugar?
While your physician is a great resource for medications associated with blood sugar management, your registered dietitian will be valuable in helping you modify your diet for your best health outcomes. Registered dietitians can assist you as you take small steps to use food as medicine to improve your blood sugar and connect you with products that are suitable for your preferences and health. Your registered dietitian can be an effective counselor aiding with behavior modification so that you find unique ways to change your eating habits. Click here to connect with an RDN and take your first step toward balancing your carbohydrate intake today.

Disclaimer: This information is educational only and not providing healthcare recommendations. Please see a healthcare provider.

Tiffany Naticchioni, RDN, LD

Tiffany Naticchioni, RDN, LD

Tiffany is a compassionate dietitian with experience in nutrition throughout her lifespan along with empowering those with diabetes and heart disease to use food as medicine. A believer in total body wellness, she has a decade of experience as a licensed massage therapist. With a passion for healthy living, she practices hot yoga, enjoys most any fitness activities, stays active in the community, and loves spending time with her family.