Carbohydrate Counting


My son was diagnosed one year ago. His blood sugars up and down like a yo-yo. We have just changed insulins and are going to start carb counting.

Can anyone tell me your experiences, frustrations, successes, advice, opinions on carb counting???

Is it worth doing? How many carbs are your children eating?..

I need all the help I can get!!!


Vonda K

I wouldn’t know how to manage my son’s bg without counting carbs. We count every bite that goes in his mouth and record it in our daily log book. He is on a pump, so we can just input the carbs eaten, and then give him the recommended amount of insulin to match. We use Carlorie King Carbohydrate Counter (the book and the website) and read food labels. Sam usually eats 18-36 g. of carbs at breakfast, 10-15 for a.m and p.m snacks, 25-40 at lunch and up to 60 at supper. He has a pretty big appetite for a 5 year old!

How did you manage without counting carbs?

I too count every single carb my son eats and give him insulin accordingly. I read labels and I also measure things out. For example, 1 cup of Cheerios is 23 g (or something like that) so I measure out exactly one cup of Cheerios and 1/2 cup of milk (6g) to equal 29g of carbs.

Sounds like breakfast at our house this morning Penny! LOL!!

How do I manage? Horribly. My poor son has to put up with the ups and downs!

Actually, Riley had a GoTart this morning (24g) and 1 cup of Hood Chocolate milk (5g). The cheerieos where just the first thing that popped in my mind.

I knew about the fiber but did not know that fat did as well. What about protein does that not slow down the body processing the carbs?

How long does everyone spend on average a day carb counting? How long does it take learn roughly off hand how may carbs are in the food, or do you never learn and just have to calculate it every time? Help

Web site that some may find useful

Vonda K


We’ve been counting carbs from day one so I don’t even give it a second thought any more. So, I don’t really know how long it takes, but I’d say maybe a few seconds at each meal.

My son eats a lot of the same things all the time, so I’ve just memorized how many carbs are in a lot of things. And, I didn’t sit down and memorize them, but I just learned them because he eats them so much.

In the beginning I carried a notebook with me with carb counts of common foods written down. I also got a Fast Food Carb book with most fast food carb counts in it.

Another useful website is You can type in foods and it will give you the carb per serving. Make sure you always look at the serving size.

As far as protein, fat, and fiber go, I don’t really figure any of that into what Riley is eating. I just learn as we go that some foods (due to their fat and protein) will affect his sugar differently. For example, the protein and fat in ice cream make him run higher later. That’s just something that we learned by trial and error.

Does your endo have a nutritionist you could meet with? That may help.

Sorry I’m a first time photo poster on this forum. I hope it turns out or this message is going to look strange!

I’m a BIG fan of the Salter Scale. I see a lot of questions on the forum regarding weighing food, or how to figure out the carbs in foods on this site. Some people eye ball it, some use measuring cups, I use the Salter scale. It’s just like another kitchen appliance on the counter top at our house, just like the toaster. Some things I do not use the salter scale for, an example would be any kind of a pasta or if it has pasta in it… we use measuring cups for that (but not mac & cheese). The scale has over 1400 foods already stored in it. For example Cheerios, French fries (baked or fried), fruits, pasta, bread, the list just goes on and on. You can add a food product to it with the nutritional information, if you make the same recipe over and over the same way you can also add that into the scale, or you can use it just to get the grams of the item.
I have attached several photos to show you a couple of ways you can use the salter scale.

Here is a photo of the scale

I put the bowl on the scale, and then turn it on.

I’m sorry this is hard to read, but it’s the information on the box of Captain Crunch- It states 3/4 cup or 27g= 23 carbs

I pour cereal in the bowl until the scale states 27g to match what the box states is the weight of 23 carbs.

Just to show you. If you only use measuring cups, I poured what I had in the bowl that was 27g into a 3/4 cup. The box states that 3/4 of a cup also equaled 23 carbs. As you can see from the photo, I have lots of room left over in the measuring cup. So if I went off the box, used a measuring cup instead of a scale, and I filled it up, there is no doubt my daugher would have gotten more than 23 carbs by using a measuring cup.

Next I wanted to give you an example of what’s already in the scale.
I don’t know if you know how to send a text message on your cell phone? But thats what you do to enter a food name into the scale. I entered grapes. I didn’t have to do anything else, this scale has over 1400 foods carb information already in it. If I would have scrolled down, it would have given other grape information like jelly, or jam.

I put the grapes in a bowl and hit enter. All this information comes up on the screen. I didn’t do anything but put the grapes in the bowl, and hit some buttons. You can’t get any more accurate than this.
The carbs for this bowl of grapes is 6.5 carbs.

This is just a picture of the grapes on the scale. i couldn’t get close enough so you could read the carb information it gave and see the grapes on the scale.

Free image hosting by

Let’s say your daughter is done eating, and there is 4 grapes left in the bowl. With the scale no problem, just put the grapes back in the bowl and weigh it. If you started with 6.5 carbs and 2.9 is left, your daughter ate 3.2 carbs of grapes.

Hi Vonda,
Like most everyone else, we also count every carb that goes in our daughters mouth. I posted a spreadsheet that we developed that shows typical carb counts and portion sizes earlier in a post called " tricks and tips for newly diagnosed" or something similar. If you browse through the older posts you’ll find it.

And we’ve gotten pretty good at estimating carbs. Like a typical slice of pizza is 25 grams, but it depends on how big it is and how thick the crust. Pizza is well known to cause highs 2 - 4 hours after eating because of the high fat and protein of the cheese. We’re on the pump so we tend to do a dual/square bolus. Give about 25% of the bolus upfront, and then 75% of it over the next three hours. Because she would sometimes go low, since the insulin hit faster than the food, and then high once the food finally hit. A lot of people stay away from pizza completely because of that.

But we’ve gotten used to counting all the carbs. I usually ask my daughter how hungry she is, does she want a 1/4, 1/3, or a 1/2 cup serving of rice, or corn, or potatoes. Whatever the carby portion of the meal is. And the measuring cup goes right on the table like a serving spoon. With the spreadhseet it’ s pretty easy to do a little math and figure out the carbs if the protion size is different than what is listed. If I’m really on the ball I’ll be able to figure out everything 10 minutes before we eat and get her to bolus early. I’m really proud of myself when that happens. You can drop your A1C by up to a full point by just bolusing for your meals 15 minutes before eating since the insulin is usually playing catch up with the meal. And you can knock out that post paranial high.

Anyway, bottom line is you get used to the carb counting and it becomes second nature and it’s not that big of a deal.