Diabetes Forecast

The Healthy Living Magazine

Should I Track Sugar or Carbs?

I am a new type 2. I’m unclear: As a type 2, should I track my sugar grams or carbs? Jeff Kane, North Tustin, California

Christy L. Parkin, MSN, RN, CDE, responds:

For managing blood glucose, it is important to track the total amount of carbohydrate eaten, not just the sugar.

What to Know

To count carbohydrate grams, look at three things on a food label: the serving size, the number of servings per container, and the total grams of carbohydrate per serving.

The total carbohydrate amount on the label indicates how many grams of carbohydrate are in one serving; sugars are already included in that total. The “sugars” section of the label shows the amount of natural and added sugar (if any) in the food.

Find Out More

Be careful when reading the label. There may be more than one serving in the container and if you consume it all, you will need to calculate the carbohydrate grams for the whole package.

Healthy eating for diabetes includes limiting added sugars. Added sugars sweeten food without contributing healthful vitamins and minerals and add excess calories. To know whether a food contains added sugars, you’ll have to look at the ingredient list. There are more than 35 ingredients that are added sugars. For a list of added sugar terms found on food labels, visit


Be sure to discuss your eating plan and carbohydrate goals with your doctor so your medications and general health are taken into consideration. Also consider working with a registered dietitian who is a certified diabetes educator (look for the RD or RDN and CDE credentials) to help you with reaching your nutrition goals. The American Diabetes Association recently recommended a lower-carb eating plan as one of many options that can be used for diabetes management.


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