While it’s always a good idea to eat plenty of fiber, you shouldn’t put too much stock in net carbs. Instead, it’s better to use this simple rule of thumb: If a serving has at least 5 grams of fiber, you can subtract HALF of those fiber grams from the total carbohydrates.
If a serving of cereal, for example, has 10 grams of fiber and 23 grams of total carbohydrates, figure that it’s only really adding about 18 grams of carbs to your daily total. Depending on your activity level, most people with diabetes need between 45 and 60 grams of carbohydrates per meal.
Calories are worth watching, too, especially if you’re working to keep your weight under control. Some foods that seem healthy can be surprisingly loaded with calories. A 10-ounce chicken pot pie may have 660 calories, all of those peas and carrots notwithstanding, and a hefty dose of saturated fats.
If you’re trying to lose or manage your weight, the less saturated fats you eat, the better. The food label tells you about those bad fats, and what else may be hidden in a tasty snack.
If you’re watching calories, know that fat grams contain 9 calories each, whereas carbohydrates contain only 4 calories per gram.
4. The listing order
The listing order is always important, too. The most abundant ingredients in any product are listed first. You’ll be better off choosing foods that prominently list healthy ingredients like whole grains and monounsaturated fats, such as olive oil.
At the same time, you’ll want to avoid products containing unhealthy ingredients such as artery-clogging hydrogenated oils or partially hydrogenated oils also known as trans fats.
Food labels don’t offer much plot or excitement. But when it comes to living well with diabetes, they’re a must-read.