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Carb Counting Exchanges

The truth about carbohydrates and diabetes

The myth: If you have diabetes, you can't eat sweets or sugar.

The truth: A food doesn't have to be sweet or sugary to raise your blood sugar.

Anything with carbohydrates will affect your blood glucose, whether it's from white potatoes, pasta, bread or (insert local sweets here…jelly babies / lollies / strawberry laces).1

Of course, different foods may affect you differently. Why?

Eating protein, fat or fiber along with your carbohydrates may slow the absorption of the carbohydrates into your system. That's why the extra fiber in whole-grain foods can help you avoid a big spike in blood glucose. What's more, eating carbohydrates as part of a larger meal that includes fat and protein will also help.2

What foods don't have carbohydrates? Green and leafy vegetables, meat and fish, tofu, cheeses, eggs, nuts and fats.3 To be sure you're accounting for all of your carbohydrates/exchanges accurately, try an online carb counter or app.

Certainly, there are other reasons to limit sugary foods in favor of other types of carbs. You'll feel much more satisfied after eating a small potato, for example, than a tablespoon of jam—and you'll take in added fiber, vitamin C and potassium your body needs.

Just remember, whether it's from milk, peas, apricots or a biscuit, a carb doesn't have to be loaded with sugar to count.


Approximately 15 grams of carbohydrate / One carbohydrate exchange 2,3
1 slice of bread or small chapatti
125 ml  of pasta or couscous
75 ml  of cooked rice
125 m l of lentils or pulses/dried beans
1 small banana
20 grapes
250 ml  of milk
100g  yogurt
3 teaspoons  of honey
3 teaspoons  of sugar

Diabetes Quebec. The Role of Carbohydrates. Available at: Accessed July 2, 2015. What Factors Slow the Absorption of Carbohydrates?. Available at: Accessed July 2, 2015.

Queensland Health. Understanding the carbohydrate portion. Available at: Accessed July 2, 2015.

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