The Extra Challenges of Counting Carbs for Diabetes

Charcuterie board with various breads, fruits, vegetables, and cheeses

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Counting carbs for diabetes is something we need to do every meal of every day in an effort to maintain stable blood sugars. It’s a “necessary evil” of diabetes. And because diabetes never takes a break, counting carbs is something we never really get a break from either. On the flip side, we get so much practice, we can become pretty good at it!

The Extra Challenges of Carb Counting For Diabetes

So today, we are going to go through a carb counting refresher (for many of us), and then take it a step further to talk about the extra challenges of counting carbs for diabetes. Let’s get started!

Counting Carbs for Diabetes

Counting carbs is literally just that — counting the grams of carbohydrates in foods we eat. There are two pieces of information we need to check in a simple scenario in order to count the carbs. Those are the serving size and the grams of carbs per serving.

Here’s a quick example:

Cheesy Crackers Nutrition Facts for counting carbs for diabetes

In this nutrition facts label (for some deliciously cheesy crackers my five-year-old is currently in love with), we see there are 27 crackers per serving. We also see there are 17 grams of carbs in that serving size. So if you eat 27 crackers, you will consume 17 grams of carbs. That’s a pretty simple example in carb counting 101.


But what if it’s not that simple? If you ask me, diabetes is sometimes more complicated than it needs to be. Case in point:

I had a weak moment one evening after a long day, and I threw a frozen pizza in the oven and called it dinner. This particular example was a few years ago, but I remember it like it was yesterday because it was annoying to me.

I checked the nutrition facts after it was cooking away in the oven. The serving size listed on the label was 1/3 of the pizza. Now, I have to ask: when was the last time you naturally cut a pizza into three equal slices? No one does that. And you shouldn’t have to do that. So, cue the math…

Pizza nutrition facts for counting carbs for diabetes

I’m not going to cut the pizza into equal thirds, and I’m not going to eat the entire pizza, so I need to figure out the carbs for what I WILL be eating. Here’s how this works:

  1. First, I figure out the carbs in the entire recipe. Thankfully here, they’ve done that for us. They say there are 105g in the whole pizza.
  2. Then I can figure the carbs in what I will be eating. In this case, I will eat a quarter of the pizza. So we take 105 divided by 4 to get the carbs in 1/4 of the pizza. (105g / 4 servings = 26g.)


A friend who has a kid with type 1 text me the other day. She said something to the effect of, “Hey – can you help? I made cupcakes for a birthday party today, and I made them from a box mix. The box says a serving size is 1/10 of the cake, but the mix made 24 cupcakes. What do I do?”

Yes, people with diabetes can eat cake. So here’s the nutrition label. There are 34g carbs in a serving size of 1/10 of the baked cake.

Cake nutrition facts for counting carbs for diabetes

(Can I first just say that I love how the manufacturer gives you the dry mix nutrition facts, but not the cupcake nutrition facts that are recommended on the back of the box as one way to bake the cake mix? But that’s for another blog post.)

So the math looks like this:

Take the 34g per serving x 10 servings per box mix, and we learn there are 340g in the entire recipe.

Now that we know that, we can divide to find out how many grams are in each cupcake. The box mix made 24 cupcakes. So here’s how we do that:

Take the 340g for the entire box recipe and divide by 24. So 340g / 24 cupcakes = 14g per cupcake. (Not including frosting!)


Let’s take it a step further, shall we? We don’t always have to eat prepackaged or frozen foods with nutrition labels on them. In fact, it’s best we don’t. There’s something wonderfully delicious about a nutritious homemade meal with real and fresh ingredients. But we have to still count carbs.

This is how I figure the carbs in the foods I post on my blog! I go ingredient by ingredient and figure carbs for each one. Then I total it for the entire recipe and divide by the number of servings. I literally get out paper and pencil and a calculator and scribble it all out. Here’s what that looks like:

The Math Behind Counting Carbs for Diabetes

These are all real recipes that are on my blog. The top one is my apple nachos recipe (before I made it again and decided it needed 3T of peanut butter, not 4). The recipe in the middle is my healthy whole grain pasta recipe. That one looks like a super short list of ingredients, but I didn’t include the spices and other things that have zero carbs. And the recipe on the bottom is my fall harvest salad – one of my favorite salads of all time! Have you tried it yet?

As you can see above, I list out the carbs for the whole recipe for each ingredient individually, total it all up, and divide by the number of servings. That’s it!

Sometimes I will google carbs for different fruits and vegetables. And some people use a super handy scale.

COUNTING Carbs for Diabetes CAN GET Easier

The key for me is that I document the carbs for any recipe I make, which only makes it easier for next time. The calculator can stay in its drawer, and I can just enjoy cooking and eating!

Here’s how I keep all my go-to make-again recipes. And you can too if you’d like. Just visit my Etsy store and get this instant download PDF. Type your recipe and carbs into the template, or print out several sheets and write it in as you go. Whatever you prefer to do.

Diabetic Recipe Template with Carb Counting and Nutrition Facts


When you get the hang of counting carbs, believe it or not, there’s another layer to consider when you’re living with diabetes. It’s the fat-fiber-protein “trifecta” I have referred to in several of my recipe posts. When eaten together in a meal, they can work together to help prevent a blood sugar spike.

Here’s a look at that math (done the same way as counting carbs, but you’re counting fiber, fat, and protein each separately instead of just carbs alone). Below are the numbers for my healthy whole grain pasta recipe, along with a few quick math scribbles down below. (I’m not gonna lie. I’m a word girl, not a number girl. And that’s why I write a blog and don’t do accounting. I need to scribble math with a calculator handy!)

Counting Fat, Fiber, and Protein

So you get the picture on counting carbs for diabetes. Like I said, I feel like it’s sometimes harder than it should be, based on nutrition labels and things that make us take extra steps. But it’s worth the effort to make sure we are staying as healthy as we can while managing diabetes.

Remember, diabetes is a marathon, not a sprint. All our healthy daily choices add up to give us a better long term with this chronic illness.


There are times our faith walk can feel like a challenge, too. And Jesus knew it wouldn’t be easy for us. In fact, Jesus tells us to count the cost of following Him. Let’s take a look.

In chapter 14 of Luke’s gospel, Jesus is talking to large crowds as they are traveling along with Him. He starts telling them about the cost of discipleship. He says, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26).

Goodness — those are some really strong words. But we have to understand that Jesus didn’t mean we should literally hate our family members. He says in the Sermon on the Mount that we should “love our enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44), remember?

Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. Matthew 5:44. Pictured: woman with hands folded and head bowed to pray.

What was Jesus saying?

Jesus wasn’t actually asking us to love our enemies and hate our families! Instead, He’s using the word “hate” to show what a difference we should see between the priority we give to following Jesus versus the priority everyone and everything else has in our lives. And he was also showing how strong our love and allegiance for Christ must be in order to truly and fully follow Him.

Then in the next verse, He says, “Whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple” (verse 27).

Again — what strong language. His audience in that day would have been eerily familiar with the image of a cross. They would have known how it was used for torturous death — after the person to be tortured was forced to carry it on his back.

Luke 14:27 Bible Verse on counting the cost of discipleship

So hearing this from Jesus likely sent chills down their spines. (And can you even imagine what Jesus was thinking as He said this, knowing what would happen to Him in the not-so-distant future?) But Jesus was making it clear that being His disciple meant submitting your life to Him. That was no simple task.

Jesus Continues About Counting the Cost

As the text continues, Jesus explains this concept of counting the cost in His classic parable-style teaching:

“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’
Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.”

Luke 14:28-33

Jesus wanted people to know that it wasn’t easy to follow Him. He wanted people to count the cost up front. Because it’s more than just realizing who He is. It’s more than simply acknowledging what He did for us. And it’s more than repeating a basic prayer. Truly and fully following Jesus redefines the purpose of your life, and you live life differently as a result.


It’s not easy to live in this fallen world and follow Jesus. Our own human flesh gets in the way sometimes. Or we are nudged and pulled in by culture, friends, circumstances, and even satan in our ears whispering lies and twisting truths. It can be a challenge for sure.

Jesus knows we will face trouble — diabetes and otherwise. But it’s worth facing the challenge for our relationship with Him. One day, all our earthly troubles will fade away, and we will enter into eternity with Jesus where there is no sorrow, no tears, no hunger, no pain, no worry — and no diabetes.

As I’m typing this, I can hear in my mind how my husband tells our children, “I know it’s hard. But you can do hard things.” He encourages them in this way because he knows it’s true, and it’s worth it in the end. And Jesus does the same for us.

Encouragement from Jesus

Right after foretelling His death to His disciples, He says in John 16:33, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Verse John 16:33. Pictured: Jesus walking out of the empty tomb

Take heart, friend. It’s worth it. Take heart.

In terms of diabetes, how are you doing with carb counting? Was this post helpful? What do you need to refocus on in order to count carbs (or other nutrients) more closely to improve blood sugar levels?

In terms of your faith, had you ever counted the cost of following Jesus before? How can you celebrate what He has done for you and follow Him more closely?

Father God, I thank You for Jesus. I thank You for sending Him to take my place and to pave the way back to You. I thank You for the encouragement that He has indeed overcome the world! Thank You that this broken world is not our home, and that You have a place prepared for those who love you that will not include diabetes or any other broken parts of this fallen world. God, give us this perspective on the days diabetes is just a big challenge for us. I pray You would work in our hearts to continually draw us nearer to You. Amen.

For Further Reading: Luke 14:25-35, Matthew 5-7, John 16

Recommended Reading: The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer


The Extra Challenges of Carb Counting For Diabetes


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Looking for more devotions? Devotions on Diabetes: A 30-Day Journey to Anchor Your Soul is on Amazon






Kaycee - Devotions on Diabetes


Welcome to my Devotions on Diabetes website! Thanks for stopping by. I've lived with diabetes for 30+ years. And I'm here to provide you with a heaping helping of encouragement while you deal with diabetes and navigate this chronic illness with God by your side.

There are lots of goodies here: devotions, diabetic friendly recipes, Bible reading plans, and more. So grab your favorite (sugar-free) beverage and enjoy your stay.







Devotions on Diabetes: A 30-Day Journey to Anchor Your Soul is now available on Amazon.

Devotions on Diabetes: A 30-Day Journey to Anchor Your Soul by Kaycee Parker




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