Carb Counting Guide

Do you know how many carbs you ate today at lunch? Was your last snack closer to 15 grams or 30 grams of carbs? Some people with T1D find carb counting easy, while others may struggle with finding the right answers. Some use apps like Calorie King, Fooducate, or mySugr (check our favorites under Digital Tools!) to keep track of all their numbers, and others find it easier to do the math (and it can be a lot of math!) in their heads.


Whether you’re newly diagnosed with T1D, a pro at living with diabetes, or just someone trying to stay healthy; everyone can always use a refresher on carb counting. Counting carbs is always a challenging task, but it can be especially difficult during the holidays with tons of food around - but here at the U-M Pediatric Diabetes Clinic, we are ready to help!

Pop Quiz - Can You Guess the Carbs?

Can you guess which Thanksgiving food item has the most carbs? Answers are below! (NOTE: Carb counts will change according to recipe and preparation. Averages for one standard serving size are provided)

Did you get them correct? If so, congratulations! And if not, no worries. We are here to educate. Something we have seen work for patients at our clinic is this handy, dandy Reading Food Labels guide with a lot of information such as how to read Nutrition Facts.

(ANSWERS: Turkey: 0 g per slice, Pumpkin pie: 22-34 g per slice, Yellow sweet corn: 30 g per cup, Mashed potatoes: 33 g per cup, Yams: 38 g per cup)

Get the Facts

One of the most important steps in carb counting is being sure you know how to read the labels on your favorite foods. Our diabetes educators go over this in Beyond the Basics, but if you need a refresher, check out this handout on the key pieces of information you need to read in the Nutrition Facts.

The American Diabetes Association also breaks down this information on their website here. It's a great resource for anyone who wants to learn more about how different ingredients can impact T1D.

Did You Know?

Are you a parent trying to carb count for a young child with diabetes? Check out this parent’s guide to counting carbs like a pro. Also, be sure to talk to your diabetes educator if you're having trouble keeping your child's blood sugars in range. Need help with the insulin dosing math? Be sure to download our Calculating Insulin Doses Sheet available under Forms & Handouts.

Holiday Treats

With changing colors and cooler temperatures, there’s nothing like an apple pie or cinnamon-spiced dessert to warm the tummy. Here’s a handy sample meal carb sheet that will help give some guidance into how many desserts have a surprising amount of sugar. Be sure to check out our guide to Fall Treats for some tips on monitoring sugar and carbs.

High Fat = BG Confusion

Have you ever had pizza and wondered why after two hours your blood sugar reading was still 200+?


It’s because pizza is not only a high carb meal, but it’s also high in fat. During the holidays, we need to be extra diligent with these high fat, high carb dishes -- they’re everywhere. From baked casseroles to pizza; burgers to Auntie Marla’s famous bread pudding. If you're looking for some helpful advice to tackle the "pizza problem", check out this article by Certified Diabetes Educator Gary Scheiner.


Make sure you are carb counting correctly and if you need a little help, check out our Nutrition and Meal Planning FAQs here.

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