Is Counting Calories For Diabetes Healthy?


Are you diabetic and trying to lose weight to improve your health? You have likely heard at least a few times that the best way for you to lose weight and feel better is to make sure you stay within your calorie goals and everything will be easy. The truth is that focusing on calories alone if you are diabetic can actually make your condition worse.




Calories are one single part of the food you eat. When you eat a piece of food, like an avocado for example there are many things to consider. An avocado has healthy fats that your body can use for energy, and it has vitamin K which helps your blood stay clotted and not too thin. An avocado also has a wide range of beneficial carotenoids and anti-inflammatory properties that contribute to your overall health. And a nicely sized avocado can also have about 300 calories or more.


Let’s look at another item that you have likely seen in your local grocery store and do a little comparison though so you can understand a bit more. A typical soda pop almost nothing in it that contributes to your health in any positive way. A soda can have up to 40 or even more grams of sugar added to it also. But a soda only has about 180 calories.  If you were to look at only these two food items and you had to make a best decision based on calories alone, you may very well end up choosing the item that really is not considered a healthy alternative if you are diabetic.


While these two common food items make a point, they may not be practical for everyone. It is common knowledge that diabetics should not consume too much soda strictly because of the amount of sugar in them. So let’s take a look at some other popular food items that are generally considered to be low calorie and generally a healthy food option. Let’s take a look at some light yogurt. Yogurt is considered to be a healthy food choice, but with so much talk about limiting fat intake there are full fat and low fat versions available.


One container of apricot mango light yogurt has only 100 calories per cup. For any dieter or diabetic looking to cut down on calories this seems like a great food choice. But if you look closer you start to see there is more of the picture than at first glance. These little cups of yogurt also have 13.9 grams of sugar. If you are counting, that is about 3.5 teaspoons of pure sugar in that little tiny cup of a so-called healthy food item. While this one single serving may not be the unhealthiest thing you can eat, it is important to see it as part of your total daily food intake.


A 100 calorie package of cookies made by a popular food company has 7 grams of sugar, which is almost 2 teaspoons, and a popular low calorie frozen chicken frozen meal (140 calories) contains an additional 6 grams of sugar, depending on which flavor you choose.


What does all of this mean? The World Health Organization and the American Heart Association both recommend a daily allowance of added sugars of 25 grams for women and around 30 grams for men. If you were to consume one light yogurt, one frozen chicken meal your total daily intake would be around 27 grams. So you would be over the recommended limit for an entire day with eating just these few items.


Your health is so much more than a single number of calories in the food you eat. There are nutrients and vitamins and minerals (or the lack of) to think about. Conditions such as diabetes are complex and require you to do as many healthy things as you can to ensure that you are in the best health possible. Focusing on calories, and only calories, means that in some cases you may not be choosing the healthiest choice for your particular body and health condition. Luckily there is an easy fix for this.


Read food labels!


You already know that for optimum health you want to consume no more than 25 – 30 total grams of sugar in a given day, so now the only thing you need to look for on those food labels are added sugars. What you will likely find after reading many labels is that there is a staggering amount of foods that have added sugars in them, and many have more than the total daily recommendation in one single serving.


Once you get used to eating foods with less, or no sugar added to them you just may start to realize that ordinary foods are much sweeter and have more flavor than they do now!



Wally Brown
Wally was unhealthy, fat and always out of breath. After realizing that counting calories wasn't working he tried eating whole, natural and fresh foods - and lost 70 pounds in the process.