Refresh Your Mental Carb Counting Tools

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Refresh Your Mental Carb Counting Tools

Whether you follow an unrestricted-carbohydrate, low-carbohydrate, or some-but-barely-any-carbohydrate diet, counting those carbohydrates is key to managing your blood sugar. And unless you’re committed to carrying a set of measuring cups and a scale with you, it can be tough to stick to hard numbers and tight control. It doesn’t matter if you’ve had diabetes for two months or two decades – a carb counting refresher course can always be helpful.

Remember which foods contain carbohydrates. Peas are so tiny and vetegable-y, but they have carbs, too! Catch up with otherwise healthy, plant-based foods that may have an unexpected carb content, including lentils, plantains, black beans and corn. Good news: lettuce is still safe.

Measure it. Once every few months, bust out the measuring cups and remind yourself just how much frozen yogurt fits in a half-cup. Compare that with your nutrition labels, and track the difference it makes in your insulin doses and your post-meal blood sugar levels. It can be refreshing.

Total your total carbohydrates. According to the American Diabetes Association, the total carbohydrate count includes sugar, starch and fiber – so look at the full number when you dose for your meal or snack.

Play favorites. It’s likely that you’ll eat the foods you like more often, so pay particular attention to mastering the carbohydrates in those. Write down your carbohydrate counts and insulin doses for those foods, and reference them as you go along.

Use your fist. When you need a hand estimating carbs, remember this: your fist is about the same as a cup-sized serving, according to Lilly Diabetes. The technique works especially well with stuff like rice, pasta, and other foods that can conform to the shape of a fist.

Spread the word. Anyone with any sort of diabetes can benefit from a little bit of carbohydrate counting. If your calculations aren’t perfect, don’t fret – we all get better with practice, and tracking the foods you eat and the medication you take can only help you reach your goals in the long term.

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Diane Oser
Diane Oser

When I started on my pump I had been taught to subtract the fibre content from the carb count and bolus for the net carbs. It took me a while to get used to counting carbs as I was brought up using the exchange system. I have had diabetes for 46 years now. I find using my Salter scale very helpful. It will read out all values for a particular food, with a complete breakdown of calories, fat, cholesterol, protein and carbs, with a gross carb count and then a net carb count. It is a valuable tool and helps… Read more »

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