I am currently studying for the exam to be re-certified as a Canadian Diabetes Educator. One of the agonizing parts of the journey is to memorize the carbohydrate contents of the common food items.  It may be a breeze to the dietitians but not so easy for me. I only memorize the information for the exam.

However, I actually think there is merit in having this knowledge for the general public. It may be a prevention strategy to tackle the increasing incidence of Type 2 diabetes both in children and adults.  If everyone is taught the carbohydrate contents of most food items as kids, it may help us to making wiser choice early on, develop healthier lifestyle from childhood.

Did you know 1 slice of bread is equal to approximately 15 grams of carbohydrate? Below are some other examples of 15grams of starches:

  • 1 x 6″ tortilla
  • 1 x 6″ roti
  • 1/2 x 6″ pita bread
  • 1/4 x 6″ naan
  • 1/2 x small bagel
  • 1/4 of large bagel
  • 1/2 hamburger or hotdog bun
  • 1/2 English muffin
  • 1 x 4″ Pancake
  • 1/12 x Pizza crust
  • 2x 5″ taco shells

Also did you know that 1/2 cup of cooked pasta is also 15 grams of carbohydrate?  Other examples include:

  • 1/3 cup of cooked rice or millet
  • 1/2 cup of couscous
  • 1/2 cup of cooked barley, bulgur
  • 1 cup of soup, thick type

Also for fruits, how much can you eat that contains 15 grams of carbohydrate? Below are some examples:

  • 2 cups of strawberries
  • 2 cups of blackberries
  • 1 cup of blueberries
  • 1 medium apple
  • 1 medium orange
  • 1 medium pear
  • 1 large peach
  • 2 medium plums
  • 3/4 cup of pineapples
  • 1 small banana
  • 15 cherries
  • 15 grapes
  • 2 medium kiwis
  • 1/4 cup of mixed dried fruits
  • 1/2 medium mango
  • 1 cup of melon

There is sugar in milk and dairy products.  15 grams of carbohydrate would be found in the following:

  • 1 cup of milk, low-fat
  • 1 cup of soy beverage, plain
  • 1/2 cup of soy beverage, flavoured
  • 1/2 cup of evaporated milk, canned
  • 1/2 cup of 1% chocolate milk
  • 4 tablespoons of Milk Powder, skim
  • 3/4 cup of Yogurt, low-fat & plain
  • 3/4 cup of Yogurt, artificially sweetened
  • 1/3 cup of soy Yogurt, flavoured

What about juice, processed foods or unhealthy french fries? 15 grams of carbohydrate would be found in the following:

  • 10 French fries
  • 7 Crackers (soda type)
  • 1/2 cup of fruit juice
  • 2″x2″ of brownies

What do you think? Does carb counting give us greater awareness of what food items have higher carbohydrate values, and can help us make clear connections how our foods may translate into high blood sugar levels and / or the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes? For more information, check out Diabetes Canada Beyond the Basics: Meal Planning for Healthy Eating and Diabetes Prevention and Management.

Just like everyone needs to know 1+1 = 2, I think everyone should have a basic awareness of the carbohydrate contents of most food items they consume.  It should be taught early on, perhaps introduced as a concept at school with the help of dietitians providing some basic education to school aged children and continue into adulthood. Of course the level of education must be tailored to the individual level but everyone should strive to know the carbohydrate contents of their foods.

For more information, please check out Diabetes Canada. Here’s a link.  Happy carb counting!