HELP! I need to learn to count carbs.....NOW!

I know I am screaming and I apologize. But I am desperate to learn to do this, and math wasn’t my greatest subject.

I am a type II diabetic, controlled (finally) by meds, 2000 Metformin and 50 amaryl, diet (we hope) and exercise. I am also losing weight and exercising like crazy.

Okay, so I went for my “teachng class” on counting carbs, I was previously using WW points, (so much easier) and did well. Losing 52 lbs. But that ended, and now it’s back to class. My nutritionist explained it all as clearly as she always does, which is good, and I left the office, confident that I could do this, and got to my car, promptly lost everything she said.

So here’s my info: I get 150 - 175 Coh’s a day. We divided them up to be 30 Breakfast, 45 for lunch and dinner and three 30 snacks during the day, with the b/4 bed one containing protein of some kind.
I’m fine with that, I think. Then, I went to the store, read every stinkin’ thing I bought for the number of carbs, and decided I would put it all together at home. I even called her with a “HELP, I don’t remember anything” before she left at 5:00…so now it’s the AM; and I am lost, again.

Okay, so please someone PM me or reteach me here. There is no one better to teach a diabetic than another diabetic. Do I count the actual carbs listed, and what if they aren’t listed, such as things I make myself. I do have two books coming in the mail with the listing of carbs for foods. If it says, 13 mg, do I count that 13 or 1, seeing as though I remember for every 15 gm’s it’s one of something.
See I told you I was confused.

HELP ME OUT, please! I need to get this right, because I still have 50 lbs to go, and a lifetime of carb counting.

Or if there is a “counting carbs for dummies” site on line, that would be super too.

I’m waiting impatiently to hear from someone, anyone…I hate math.

Cathy J

Cathy, you should count the actual carbs listed on the package for each serving. If there is fiber, you should subtract the amount of fiber (if over 5 gms) from the amount of carbs. My CDE told me that you should only subtract half the carbs if over 5, instead of all of them. She said it was something new that just came out. . It actually works better for me that way.

I have never had luck with counting net carbs. You may however be okay with that.

A good book to get would be The Calorie King. It has listings for counting carbs on all kinds of foods like vegetables, meats, eggs. Pretty much covers everything. Plus it counts them for fast food as well. It also counts calories, fats and other things. I got mine at Wal-mart for about 7 bucks.

Great ideas, thank you, Mike and Kathy. I’ll look for the book at WM, not like I’m not there everyday!!! :o)

What I am looking for from people who have done this is ----okay so like breakfast said: 25 gr Carbs, 10 grams fiber — I subract the 10 fiber gms…that gives me 15 —so is that 1 carb count out of my 150 or 15 out of my 150?

that’s where I am most confused…can you help me, or am I hopelessly lost in point limbo?

thanks again,

Assuming that you aim to eat 150g of carbohydrates in a day, that would mean 15g of carbs out of the 150g. That leaves you with 135g of carbs to eat during the rest of your meals.

The outdated version is carb exchanges which were either 15g/exchange of 10g/exchange depending on your nutritionist. Don’t use that system because it is inherently difficult to count how many carbs you can eat.

Okay then what do you suggest, John. And make it simple, I’m used to writing down food, and looking it up for points, I don’t have that option anymore…how do you figure it?

Don’t use points. Just count the carbs in grams based on the nutrition labels. If you want to eat very precise amounts of carbs, buy a digital kitchen scale like the EatSmart scale at which comes with a in-built computer for calculating the carbs and has a large database. See Manny’s video review of the thing…I don’t have the URL handy but you should be able to find it easily.

Make your target to eat 150g to 175g of carbs/day. Spread it out in your meals - don’t eat like 75g carbs in one meal. If necessary, eat small amounts more frequently.

Disregard other nutrition factors for now like fat and protein. To have a good control on your blood glucose levels, only concentrate on how many carbs you eat and make sure not to exceed 40-50g per meal. Even better if you can keep each meal to 30g or less.

Eat lean meat and don’t worry about fat as long as it is not saturated fat - oils which don’t become solids at room temperature are good for you. Mayo is good. Don’t eat margarine or butter. Cheese is excellent.

I don’t think I could have said this any better John. Don’t use points. Just count carbs. It is much simpler than it first seems. It was really confusing for me at first, especially when I was told about exchanges. Just get that out of your head right now. Total carbs, minus some fiber (over 5gms). Don’t count 1 or 2 o 3 gms of fiber. You will be a pro at this in no time.

OK, you do not need to feel intimidated by this. Counting carbs is not complicated. First of all, forget about the 15g = 1 choice thing. That is confusing. Don’t worry about it.

Just count your total carbohydrates in everything you eat. It’s really that simple.

You asked about things you make yourself. Here’s a pretty good website for checking some of the basic foods you may cook yourself. I like this site because they usually have multiple choices for serving sizes and that helps me get an accurate carb count.

As, Mike mentioned, for foods with high fiber, some people will teach you to subtract the grams of fiber from the total carbs. Foods with 5g or more of fiber per serving are often considered high fiber. However, my advice for someone just starting out is don’t worry too much about the fiber thing unless you start to see that your blood sugar is dropping low after you eat high fiber foods. Just keep it simple for now. Count your total carbs. Stick to the totals (30g b-fast, 45g lunch, etc) that you were given.


John, there is nothing wrong with counting points, after all it helped me to lose 52 lbs. I am new at this carb thing, so gimme a break, please. I don’t want to have one thing under control and then lose track of the weight. So I have to look at both…right now I am keeping track of both to get that done, till I get the carb counting feeling like I know what I am doing…thanks though for the second lesson…I’m still working on the first, and will come back for more from you when I get there. I looked at that scale, and don’t know where you are financially, but I couldn’t afford that scale if I had to right now. Maybe later.

thanks again…


How does one say thank you for keeping it simple for simpletons. I’ll check it out J, and see if it all makes sense…and now after talking with all of you, it is making more and more sense. I always knew you talk to the people who use it for real everyday. Have a good one!


I think he was talking about exchanges, not saying anything is wrong with WW point counting.

I too find it very frustrating that all of the WW books show only point values, and have nothing about carbohydrates. Their newer cookbooks are better at listing nutrition facts!

Cathy, I went and bought a 12 dollar scale at wally world. It works fine for measuring out food. You don’t need something fancy schmancy at first.

I suggested this scale because Cathy doesn’t like to do math. The ordinary scales work well for weighing out food but the problem occurs when you don’t like math and find it very confusing to calculate, say, carbs in 43g of food which has 17g/serving and each serving is 29g.

Hang in there, Cathy, it will get easier! I was stressed and overwhelmed just a few short months ago trying to learn so many different new things. Now it’s become fairly routine. I keep a list of all my foods each day so when I have the same meal I don’t have to count it all over again (breakfast tends to be pretty similar from day to day and living alone I tend to eat leftovers!). I xeroxed a carb list for common foods and look up things that aren’t on there on When I eat something new I write it on the list so I will have it as a reference. Also when I make a more complex dish (I love to cook!) I measure and write down the carbs for all the ingredients. (Most vegies except a few high starch ones are 5 carbs for 1/2 cup cooked or 1 cup raw so I just measure it all and put say 2C of salad=10 carbs). Then I divide the total by number of servings. Sometimes I actually ladle it into bowls and then back into the pot so I can see how many servings are actually there. After awhile you get to know how many carbs lots of things are automatically.

Mike, I have a wonderful food scale, it has gms, etc., and our ounces…my husband is a chef, and doesn’t use measure cups for most of his work, uses the scale…so we’ve got the equipment…just need to know if I am doing the counting right. It’s a benefit and a blessing to have a chef in the house.

WOW Zoe, where were you a few short minutes ago, when I was having a tantrum about my husband fixing supper and not following the directions — he tends to make it up as he goes , see a blessing and a curse. That’s an excellent idea, and I am a keeper of records, so the book idea will help me much. Thanks