Ask Leah! The Ingles Dietitian

Sponsored: The keys to carbohydrate counting

ingles dietitianQUESTION: I have noticed you have a gluten-free section and tag items that are gluten-free – why not a sugar-free section for diabetics?

The good news is that unlike those who need gluten-free products for celiac disease or other medical conditions, someone with diabetes, whether it is Type 1 or Type 2, can virtually buy products throughout the store – as long as they are reading labels! Carbohydrate counting is the method that the American Diabetes Association recommends ( for diabetes dietary management of both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. 

Talk to your health care provider about referral to a registered dietitian or certified diabetes educator or contact your local hospital to find out if they offer a diabetes support group. Dietitians and certified diabetes educators often offer both individual and group classes. While it may sound like the solution is just to buy sugar-free items, often they are not helpful in controlling blood sugar. 

Sometimes sugar-free items have as many or more carbohydrates than their regular counterparts and also contain sugar alcohols that can lead to gastro intestinal distress (gas, bloating and diarrhea). They may also be more expensive and have higher amounts of fat.


The keys to carbohydrate counting are:

1. Checking portion sizes and reading labels for the carbohydrate amount per serving 

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2. Following a recommended carbohydrate amount per meal. (carbohydrates are found in fruit and fruit juices, starchy vegetables like potatoes and corn, beans,  milk, yogurt, bread, cereal, rice, pasta as well as sweetened items like candy, cookies, cakes, beverages) Sweeteners can include honey, molasses, sugar, corn syrup, agave nectar, maple syrup as well as sugar alcohols) 

3. Checking blood sugar regularly and taking medications - as directed by your health care provider 

4. Getting regular exercise


Leah McGrath, RDN, LDN

Ingles Markets Corporate Dietitian


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