Reading Food Labels for Diabetes Health

Pay Attention to the Food Label to Take Care of Your Diabetes

As a person with diabetes, you know it's important to be well-aware of what you're eating:  what's in the food, as well as the nutritional information about the food.  By paying attention to this (whether you have type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes), you will be better able to manage your blood glucose levels.  This article talks about reading food labels, which help everyone (but especially people with diabetes like us) make healthy food choices.

It's important to know what you and your family are eating, and reading food labels can make you a more knowledgeable shopper. Thanks to sweeping changes in requirements by the FDA on food labeling, today's food labels are easier to read.

Here's what the food label tells us:

  • Labels must have realistic serving sizes, in both household (ounces) and metric measures (grams). Before, manufacturers could use their own serving size, often too small to be realistic.  Always check the serving size so that you aren't accidentally eating more carbs or calories than you intended.
  • Check the calories from fat breakdown.  It's suggested that on a daily basis, no more than 30% of your calories come from fat.
  • Nutrients reported on the nutrition panel are those most important to the health of today's consumers:  Fat (broken in saturated fat and trans fat), Cholesterol, Sodium, Total Carbohydrate, and Protein.  The Total Carbohydrate is, of course, especially important for people with type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes, but you need to pay attention to everything in the food label.
  • The percentages shown are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.  You may have a different caloric intake as determined by your diabetes treatment team.  Keep this in mind when calculating percentages. 

Shop smart and read the food label before you buy:  this is a very proactive way to take good care of your diabetes.

Updated on: October 23, 2012