Cab Counting…the dreaded deal. Not really. This class was very helpful in reminding me that I really do have to pay attention to everything that goes into my mouth. I cannot control many things of my diabetes, but food is one thing that I can…we all can.
First, know your goals:
These will vary depending on your doctor's recommendations, but here is a basic guide based on the ADA. Ask your doctor next visit what he wants these numbers to be.
"see my comment below, for some reason this info kept getting all mixed up. Sorry"
With these numbers in mind. here are some ways to achieve these goals. Of course, you want to ask your doctor for some specific help in these areas, but this is a general take on it.
Healthy Food Choices:
Since carbohydrates are the only foods that break down 100% into glucose we tend to focus on those. However, don't loose track of Fat and Protein. These will convert to glucose too, and so you can't consider them FREE foods when it comes to carb counting. Too much of either of these two foods will be stored in cells…we call it FAT.
A meeting with your dietitian will tell you how much of these foods to eat. I met with mine and she gave me this guide:
45g carbs per meal, 15g per snack
80g of protein per day
33g of fat (trying to stick to monosaturated fats)
2000mg of sodium
Where I was making my mistake was that I was counting carbs, but ignoring the calories and the fats. Bad idea. So now I have to watch the calories too. I tell you, that makes me choose more carefully the healthier foods. But for this discussion, we will focus on carb counting. Just be careful you don't fall into the trap I did, and just focus on that. It can mess up your numbers a lot.
Methods of Carb Counting
1. Carb Choices or Exchanges.
This is making a meal plan that says you will have 3-4 exchanges of carbohydrate for a meal. With the "Food Choices" ADA book, that equates eating a single serving (based on the ADA, not the nutrition label) of a food being 1 exchange.
Example: 1 small apple = 1 exchange
or 1 slice of bread = 1 exchange
or 1 cup of raw celery = 1/3 exchange
or 1/3 cup of rice = 1 exchange
You choose what you want to eat and put it together to equal 3-4 exchanges of carbohydrate per meal.
Carb Grams Method
Here you use the number of carbs in a serving (again, you want to use ADA for portions)
It is bigger numbers, but is basically the same thing.
Example: 1 small apple = 15grams of carb
or 1 slice of bread = 20grams of carb
or 1 cup raw celery = 5grams of carb
or 1/3 cup of rice = 15grams of carb
You can use either method and reach a similar result. It is a matter of what you feel is easier.
If you use either way, you must make sure that you are looking at the serving size on the nutrition label or in your ADA "Food Choices" Book. That is key!
For instance, most cans of soup are actually 2 servings. Hmmmm, so if you just look at the label and it says it is 28g of carb, you might think great! If you don't realize that it is for HALF the can, you have just eaten 56grams, and blown your meal. So use caution and read the labels carefully.
1. Weigh or measure your foods. This keeps you more accurate. I am not saying it will stop you from over doing it, but if you eat 1 cup of pasta, then calculate it as 1 cup. Don't fake yourself out by "thinking" it was just 1/2 a cup. Be honest. Specially if you are on insulin, you have to be accurate.
2. Get nutrition guides to your favorite restaurants. Know what you are getting into when you eat out. We have a Chicken restaurant here called Zaxby's. Good food, and nothing in there is under 1000 calories! A kid's meal is 700, and they don't just do fried.So know what you are putting into your mouth. It is hard, but here is a website that can help you figure things out. www.calorieking.com Type in your favorite meal at a restaurant, and voila! Or should I say YIKES!
3. Eat at regular times. Try to eat your meals the same time during the day. Also, try to keep your carb amounts the same for that meal. What I mean is if you eat 45g (or 3 exchanges) of carb for breakfast, try to keep that the same every day. Even if you change the choices of food.
4. Don't skip meals. That just makes you binge later, and if you are on insulin or prone to hypo episodes, that can be threatening.
5. Keep a food log. Keep track of the carbs you are eating, and don't forget to look at the other exchanges such as fats and proteins. And if you are like me, look at those calories.
As you get used to what is a carb you will be able to do your choices easier. I used the choices book a lot when I first started, but got away from it. Now I know why my levels are on the rise…I got lazy. It is an everyday discipline. It is aggravating at times, but it will be worth it when you gain the control you want in your levels.
Remember, our goal is to have as few complications from this disease as we can. Good control of our levels and a healthy lifestyle will get us there faster than any medication ever will. You have to be proactive in your treatment, and this is your best tool.
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