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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    What should I read on food labels for managing diabetes?

    I have been told to look at total carbohydrate on food labels because carbohydrates are broken down to sugar. Why do I not look at the carbohydrate (sugars)? What is the difference?
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  • 2


    Sophie McGough

    Credentialled Diabetes Educator (CDE), Diabetes Educator, Dietitian

    Sophie McGough is an APD and credentialled diabetes educator. Having worked for many years at Diabetes WA, Sophie branched out into to private practice to … View Profile

    The research into glycemic index showed that it was not just the ‘sugar’ content of foods that would predict the impact of a food on BGLs but the processing and type of starch was of equal importance.  A good example of this is white bread.  If you just considered the sugar content of white bread you would think it was fine for diabetes.  We know however that white bread raises the blood glucose level almost at the same rate as drinking straight glucose (like in the oral glucose tolerance test).  Some natural muesli cereal however will have a high ‘sugar’ content but these are generally naturally occurring sugars such a fructose.  When tested in humans, most of these natural muesli cereals are low GI.
    I now encourage people with diabetes to just think about the total amount of carbohydrate they are having and also the glycemic index of that food.  An accredited practicing dietitian can prescribe the right amount carbohydrate individual to your needs.

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    Personally experienced diabetes and coeliac dietitian. Marchini Nutrition is a dietitian service set up to help those with or at risk of diabetes and coeliac … View Profile

    The reason you need to look at TOTAL carbohydrate is that ALL carbohydrates break down to glucose (the basic sugar that is the preferred energy source for your body) and so will raise your BGL, just at different rates based on what Sophie explained about the glycemic index.  You can read more about the glycemic index here:

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