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Diabetes Education Program

Question of the month


Can I have carbohydrates if I have diabetes or do I need to cut them out of my diet?


Like anyone else, people living with diabetes are encouraged to eat a well balanced diet, which includes carbohydrates. Carbohydrates provide the body with the main source of energy. Foods that contain carbohydrates include grains, starches, milk, yogurt, and fruits. It is important that these foods are included in your diet as they provide you with many other necessary nutrients such as vitamins, minerals and fibre.

Healthy carbohydrates include: whole grain bread, whole grain pasta, brown rice, quinoa, oats, barley, and legumes (e.g. lentils, chickpeas).

Be mindful of your carbohydrate portions you eat at each meal or snack. Limit grains and starches to one-fourth of your plate for each meal.

Consider seeing a registered dietitian as s/he can help you set a goal for the amount of carbohydrate that is right for you.

You can access the Canadian Diabetes Association's Basic Carbohydrate Counting guide here.


What is A1C and how often should I test it?


A1C, or glycated hemoglobin, is measured by a blood test. It is used to help monitor your risk of developing diabetes related complications.

The A1C is a blood test that reflects the amount of sugar (glucose) attached to the red blood cells over the last 2-3 months. For most people with diabetes, the target A1C is 7% or lower. Generally, A1C levels should be measured every 3 months. Work with your diabetes care team to keep your A1C in a healthy range.

For more information, check out this video by Canada's Diabetes Association.

Previous questions


I heard this year is the year of pulses. Can I eat them if I have diabetes?


The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations declared 2016 The Year of Pulses. Pulses include legumes including chick peas, kidney beans, black beans, and lentils. They are an excellent source of protein, and healthy carbohydrates. The Canadian Diabetes Association recommends healthy dietary patterns such as the DASH diet, Mediterranean diet, and low glycemic index diets, all of which feature pulses as recommended foods.

You can prepare dried legumes by soaking them overnight, or try canned legumes after rinsing them under water. Enjoy them as a part of soups, salads, or get creative! Check out for great recipes featuring pulses.

More recipes:

Contact us »

Diabetes Education Program

Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre
2075 Bayview Avenue,
Toronto, ON M4N 3M5

Phone: 416-480-4805
Fax: 416-480-4283

Self-referral »

Patients may self-refer by calling 416-480-4805 between 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. Patients may also leave a voicemail, and a staff member will return the call. 

You may also download the self-referral form (PDF) and fax it to 416-480-4283.

Physician referral »

Patients may also be referred to the program by their physician. Physicians can fax the physician referral form (PDF) to 416-480-4283.

Appointments »

To book an appointment or speak with a member of the Diabetes Education Team, please call 416-480-4805