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Hidden Carbs: Diabetes Questions & Answers

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Hidden Carbs: Diabetes Questions & Answers

Q: I have type 1 diabetes and eat a whole-food, plant-based diet. It surprises me to see my blood sugar spike when I have low-carb foods such as zucchini or cashews. What causes this to happen?

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A: Carbohydrates can be sneaky. They find their way into our diets unexpectedly. Most vegetables, for example, are low in carbs but not carb-free. Salad veggies average about 5 grams per cup, and that doesn’t include add-ons like dressings and croutons. Breading on meats and vegetables also add carbs, as do most sauces and condiments. Even a palm-sized portion of nuts can contain 5 to 10 grams of carbohydrate. All of these “hidden” carbs can add up. It is important to additionally note that carbohydrate is not the only thing in our food that raises blood sugar. Protein can also cause the blood sugar to rise — particularly when consumed as part of a low-carb diet. Research has shown that approximately half of the protein in a very-low-carb meal can eventually turn into glucose, so if you choose to go low-carb, it may be necessary to start considering protein grams as well.

Want to learn more about counting carbohydrate? Read “Counting Carbohydrates Like a Pro” and “Getting Started With Carb Counting.”

Gary Scheiner, MS, CDE

Gary Scheiner, MS, CDE

Gary Scheiner, MS, CDE on social media

The Owner and Clinical Director of Integrated Diabetes Services LLC, a private practice specializing in advanced education and glucose regulation for patients utilizing intensive insulin therapy. Scheiner, who has had Type 1 diabetes since 1985, was the AADE 2014 Diabetes Educator of the Year. He is the author of Think Like A Pancreas — A Practical Guide to Managing Diabetes With Insulin, Practical CGM, Diabetes-How To Help (A Guide to Caring for a Loved One With Diabetes), The Ultimate Guide to Accurate Carb Counting, and Until There Is A Cure.

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