Carb counting: How I stay one step ahead


I often laugh when I read articles about low carb foods as the latest trend for losing weight. For diabetics who are insulin dependent, we have always looked towards good glucose control by carb counting. Nowadays, fashionistas find low carb trendy.

Trends and food industry advancements have made carb counting easier. We now have clear nutritional information on packaging and more transparency from fast food restaurants.

I’ve counted carbs since the time of the ark and it was much harder back then. Items such as sugar-free products were more expensive and there were less of them around. At the time I thought my life had ended.

I now eat normally but within reason. Modern technology makes it even easier to carb count. For example, there are now apps available that can calculate your total carbohydrate intake by taking a picture.

My app of choice at the moment is called ‘Carb Manager’. I input the type and size of the food I’m eating and it gives me the nutritional information and calculates the total carb amount. This helps me to decide how much insulin to give.

When I’m out with friends and they see me taking a picture of my food, they think I am Instagramming or Snapchatting, hehe. When in actual fact, I’m making sure I’ve got it right and counting the correct amount of carbs based on what I am eating. Even someone with my expertise (I worked as a nurse) and experience of living with Type 1 diabetes can find themselves unsure sometimes.

I know carb counting can be a pain but it makes life so much better and blood glucose easier to control.

My insulin regime is complicated as I have gastroparesis. Sometimes I absorb food and sometimes I don’t as I can vomit after eating. However, most of the time I win the battle. I’ve lived with this for so long and I know what my body needs and how to do things like correctional doses etc.

Many people with Type 1 diabetes in the UK will have been on the KAREN course. This is a brilliant course and will help you to understand glucose control and how to do carb counting. If you haven’t attended the KAREN course, you can inquire about this with your doctor.

I recommend keeping a food diary. This helps me judge how I will react to a certain intake of carbs. It also helps the doctors see what I have been up to and gain a better understanding of my control.

Previously I mentioned that I eat normally, however, sometimes I don’t eat at all. My gastroparesis can vary in degrees of severity. During bad periods I take supplements, whereas during severe periods taking supplements is not possible. My battle isn’t so simple but is possible. I recommend taking every chance to learn about your conditions. Use modern technology and use it for your health’s advantage. With nutritional labels and constant blood monitoring, we have no real excuse if we don’t control our diabetes.

Moreover, enjoy your food and all that goes with it, e.g. socialising. It helps to educate your friends about your condition. Don’t make it a chore, it can be fun.

Happy carb counting!