I’ve never really gotten the hang of the art/science of counting carbohydrates. Since being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes I’ve seen a number of dieticians, and each has given me the standard tables with amounts of food and how many servings of carbohydrates are in each. I’ve taken them home and then basically ignored them (along with a lot of good advice). The reason is simple – I love food. And to me, food is not something you measure and count, but something you eat and enjoy.
I’ve never had a hard time cutting something out of my diet absolutely, but when I eat, I eat. I’m not someone who can just take a taste of something. So limiting portions and weighing my food is not for me. This personality flaw (if it’s a flaw) is not healthy for an athlete or a diabetic. Up until a month ago I got around this by eating a not very precise low-carb diet. After my diagnosis, I cut out most obvious no-no’s like potatoes, pasta and even pizza (which I lived on in my previous life). And in the years since, I’ve found I can enjoy eating and cooking while still controlling my blood sugar (reasonably well) by just eliminating sweets and refined carbohydrates. And I ate (and overate) and enjoyed all of the rest.
A few weeks ago, after a running a marathon and feeling hugely disappointed by my result, I went to a dietician. Right off the bat, she explained to me that if I don’t eat at least seven servings of carbohydrates a day (not all at once – obviously) I will never be able to run the way I want to.
For the last three weeks, my dietician has had me on a strict eating schedule. I eat 5 times a day (including before and after runs) and count not only the carbohydrates, but also servings of protein, veggies, fruit, fat and water.
For a man who has spent the last eight years not counting carbs, this has not been easy. And I haven’t been great at it either. Every week the dietician scolds me for not eating correctly. It’s either too much of one thing or not enough of the other. But I’m motivated now to get it right. Precision is the key.