- Sophia Kamveris, MS, RD
Carbohydrate Counting as Easy as 1, 2, 3..
There’s a lot of technology out there to monitor your health today. Measuring steps, heart rate, and calories on a phone app are just some examples. If you have diabetes, it’s especially important to monitor the amount of carbohydrates that you are eating. The apps are the easier way to do that, but sometimes the nutrient information they contain is not always correct. I advise using food labels when entering data into your daily plan whenever possible.
Long before the calculator (and even the slide rule for those that grew up with one of those!), the abacus was the standard “counting tool” used in ancient cultures thousands of years ago. It’s still used in some countries today.
To manage your diabetes, it is without question that you should arrange to meet with a registered dietitian who can personalize a menu plan for you, based on your own food preferences. Cookie cutter diets do not work! Once a plan has been designed for you, you will be given an allotment of carbohydrate to eat throughout the day.
I always tell my patients to think of your carbohydrate credits as poker chips, or think of our ol’ friend, the abacus. You have a designated allotment for each hand (or in our case, at each meal). Unlike, poker chips though, you cannot stockpile these carbohydrate credits and use them all at one time. Certain diabetes medications can cause hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). So, when you stockpile carbs, your meals are unbalanced. Some people completely eliminate a meal so they can save all of their carbs for another meal. This practice is unacceptable and will increase your risk for hypoglycemia.
Stockpiling carbs can also lead to hyperglycemia (high blood sugar). If you eat too many carbs at one time, your blood sugar will spike. If your insulin response is compromised, you will have a difficult time getting your blood sugars down. The right balance of carbohydrates allows your insulin to work more efficiently and to keep your blood sugars more stable.
Most all of the health insurance carriers provide nutrition counseling benefits for diabetes, so arrange to meet with a registered dietitian, even if it’s just for a refresher plan.