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Hidden Carbs: Diabetes Questions and Answers

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Hidden Carbs: Diabetes Questions and Answers

Q: The other day, all I had for lunch was a salad with some cashews. Within a few hours, my blood glucose had risen almost 100 mg/dl! Why would it rise so much if I didn’t have any sugar or starch?

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A: Welcome to the world of “hidden” carbohydrates. Many people think the only sources of blood-glucose-raising carbs are obvious foods such as bread, potatoes, fruit, and sweets. But there are carbs in almost everything we eat. Salads, for example, contain an average of about 4 to 5 grams of carbohydrate per cup. And cooked nonstarchy vegetables, such as steamed broccoli, contain 8 to 10 grams per cup. A handful of cashews contains about 10 grams of carbohydrate, and a handful of peanuts contains roughly 6 grams (of course, handful sizes may vary!). Milk is another source of carbs — about 12 grams per cup. And that doesn’t even touch on sauces, dressings, and condiments. A single tablespoon of barbecue sauce can contain 5 to 10 grams of carbohydrate! There are a few exceptions. Most meats, eggs, and cheeses are completely carb-free. But carbs may be added during food preparation. It pays to look up the contents of your common meals and snacks to make sure your carb counts match what you actually consume.

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

Gary Scheiner, MS, CDCES

Gary Scheiner, MS, CDCES

Gary Scheiner, MS, CDCES 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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