One of the first things we learn when we’re diagnosed with diabetes is that we need to calculate how many carbohydrates we’re consuming as well as protein and fat. In order to do this, we rely heavily on the nutrition labels on packaged foods. However, did you know that those labels may not be as accurate as you thought they were?
This blog post on A Sweet Life is eye-opening. The nutrition labels we are used to seeing these days came about from the 1990 Nutrition Labeling and Education Act. This act established guidelines on how the labels look and what information is required.
The problem for people with diabetes is that there is too much wiggle room when it comes to the provided amounts of carbohydrates, fat, protein and calories. When it comes to carbohydrates, the manufacturers are allowed a 20 percent margin of error on the lower end, while the upper end must not have “amounts beyond a 'reasonable excess,' but that term is not defined.”
In other words, the manufacturer is allowed to determine what “reasonable excess” means. If you are someone who is counting carbohydrates, either to remain within your allotment or you are injecting insulin to cover your carb intake, this could make a significant difference.
Many times we are told by doctors, dieticians and CDEs that all we need to do is count carbohydrates and we’ll be fine. If counting carbs isn’t working then it must be the patient’s fault. Based on this “new” information, we should not be blamed for doing our best when the playing field isn’t level. Try to remember this when your blood glucose doesn’t play fair. It may not be your fault.