Guide to Reading Food Labels with Diabetes

reading food labels with diabetes

Learn why reading food labels with diabetes is an important step into understanding your daily nutrition and how it affects the way you feel

We may not have the tendency of reading every particular box when we go grocery shopping but, did you know that reading food labels with diabetes is an actual helpful tool to keep track of your nutrient intake?

Counting calories, weighing your food, counting macros and knowing how to use the glycemic index are all wonderful methods to help a diabetic keep clear track of what amounts of sugars, carbs, proteins and fats they put into their plates.

Knowing how to read food labels is just an added tool that you can use when you are doing your groceries and you want to have a clear idea of how these will translate later into your health, once you consume the meal.

When you have diabetes it is imperative to understand the right quantities of sugar and carbs that you ingest, since these are the two main nutrients that will have a direct impact on how your glucose levels behave.

Reading food labels with diabetes helps by providing the exact quantity of each nutrient (in grams) per each serving or controlled portion.

How to read food labels is super easy, especially if you know what are the key lines to follow first: serving size, servings contained in a particular box and the amount of nutrients per each individual serving.

Obviously, reading food labels with diabetes becomes even more useful when you have a clear idea of what your eating plan or diet really is. This means that, although a food label will contain the amount of calories you are ingesting per each serving, if you need to lose weight you will definitely need to consume less of those calories.

Finding healthy food for a diabetic is easier when you are able to read and understand the labels on the packaging, because it allows you to know with certainty the percentage of carbs, sugar, fats, protein, vitamins, etc. that you will ingest.

Another key tip on identifying a healthy food for a diabetic when reading food labels is to pay close attention to the grams/percentage of added sugar that a particular item may have.

As a general rule of thumb for diabetic patients, it is preferable to consume wholesome, healthy carbs, instead of refined carbs, and low sugar or no-added sugar foods instead of those that may contain sucrose, agave, fructose, etc.

The American Diabetes Association recommends that you refer to total carbohydrate listing on the food labels instead of just the sugar column, since all the sugars, sugar alcohols, starches, and fibers are taken into consideration for the carb count.

As another good tip, when reading food labels with diabetes disease, pay attention to high-fiber foods. Fiber is the best ally for diabetic patients is it helps reduce the absorption of simple carbohydrates. Try to stick to foods that contain at least 3 grams of fiber per serving.

It is also important to remember that when the ADA recommends reading the total carbs column, is because even if a product is labeled as sugar-free, no-added sugar or low-calorie, it does not mean that it is low-carb or even entirely free of carbs.

As a final tip when reading food labels to manage your diabetes disease, it is important to be able to translate the measurements on the labels into household measures, like cups, ounces, number of pieces etc. In many instances, using a food scale with an internal converter is a great way of managing and correctly measuring the grams that are indicated on the back of your package.

Whenever in doubt, it is also highly recommended to speak to your diabetes specialist to be able to determine if following the exact guidelines on the food labels is good for your particular case, or if you need to cut back (or increase) the portions to manage your diabetes.


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