(LINK here), over the years I have got bit relaxed with counting carbs, quicker at
guessing and generous in rounding off.
It was time I for a refresher course in carbs counting.
Time to calibrate my key tool – my EYE.
It is easy when we are using a ready made product: you read the labels and do a bit of maths. The margin of error is smaller in that case, but when it comes to fruit, vegetables, pastas and rice, it is essential to remind oneself what a medium sized apple really looks like or how many grams is that portion of pasta you usually eat.
So I went back to combing the carb tables, I weighed and measured the portions we eat, I consulted the nutritional scales and pondered what actually goes into the cooked meals.
This is what I have concluded:
Funny that, bananas are tricky when it comes to determining how many carbs they contain: you weigh the whole banana but you eat it without a peel, all the time wondering if all the banana peels are the same thickness. They also say the amount of carbs in a banana depends on how ripe it is. Go figure then !
Since we eat them in handfuls here, I always neglected the carbs count with my EYEing method.
My nutritional scale reveals that my handful still contains 5-6g of carbs.
Hmmmm, 5 plus 5, it all adds up quickly.
I make my own pasta / lasagne sauce and hide all sorts of things in it: grated carrots, zucchini, precooked lentils, onion, tomato, spoon of sugar (not the spoon of course) to cut through the acidity of tomato. However I usually only add about 5 g of carbs for the sauce on top of the pasta. I have now experimented and concluded that it works better if I allow for 5g of carbs PER SPOON of sauce. My sauce of course.
Plain cooked rice and rice for sushi is easier to weigh per portion, but here is one test for your eyes: how much more rice do you think there is in the larger sushi roll (top left)? Not much? May be 20-25% more?
That’s what I thought, but the smaller roll has 40gr of rice while the bigger one has 60gr of rice – therefore 50% more carbs in it too!
I will weigh the rice separately, calculate total grams of carbs it contains, add it to the carbs from the other vegetables I would be using. This will give me the TOTAL grams of carbs for the meal I am cooking. Now, when it is ready I would find out the total weight of the cooked meal. Dividing the total grams of carbs with the total grams of the meal, and then multiplying the result by 100 would give me XXg of carbs per 100grams of meal.
All that is left now is to weigh theportion Mr T is going to eat and multiply it by XX/100. The result would be grams of carbs in his portion.
It is true that red capsicum, beetroot, tomato, carrot and other red / orange vegetables have some sugar / carbs. I say “not up to speed nutritionist” since not one kind of vegetables should be avoided.
There is so much goodness in all vegetables that we should include MORE of them in our diets, all we need to do is account for the carbs they contain and bolus accordingly.
This photo shows my findings and some of the “hidden” carbs in the vegetables we eat often.
The fact is, no matter how many times I weigh a portion and calculate the carbs content in accordance with the info on the packaging, more often than not his BG does NOT return to the desired range after 2,5-3 hours of bolussing. Often I have to correct even when I pre-bolus ( give insulin a 15 minutes head start).
I simply do not trust the “nutritional” information on the packaging and that is why I try to avoid boxed cereals.
I should always keep in mind that there are hidden carbs in all readymade sauces which mainly come from the nutritionally empty but cheap and therefore preferred ingredient for the manufacturers: corn syrup.
I try not to use them often.
Well, we have made a decision to count carbs (necessary for pumping anyway) for everything Mr T eats. I have also decided not to carry the scale to weigh every bite he eats. I am sure that our carbs counting would be more precise if we were to measure every bite and we would possibly be able to iron out some of the higher BG’s, but you have to live as well.
With this mixed approach we have found “a balance” that works for us. It fits in with our family routine and still produces very good results in managing Mr T’s diabetes. By conducting this refresher course in carbs counting I have realised that in order to minimize the margin of error that this method of counting carbs brings – I have to recalibrate my eye more often.
The errors easily and quickly add up 3 + 3 + 3 grams.
Off I go to consult the scales.