Hot off the press!
Optimising Nutrition with a Low Carb Approach: a Brief Guide.
Interested in our recent talk about Low Carb Management of Type 1 Diabetes by Dr Troy Stapleton? Click here to watch it on our new YouTube channel.
The Family Centre Carbohydrate Counting Workshop
Our resident Dietitian and Credentialled Diabetes Educator Amy Rush just loves anything and everything carbs! Amy has developed a half day carbohydrate counting workshop that covers all things from what foods contain carbs, to calculating insulin to carb ratios. The course offers many handy carb counting tips along the way, and is a great opportunity to meet fellow carb counters and share tips and recipes with one another.
Foods that contain carbohydrate have the greatest effect on blood glucose compared to foods that contain protein or fat. Managing type 1 involves matching the amount of insulin you take to the amount of carbohydrate in the food you eat. Carb counting is a method of calculating grams of carbohydrate consumed at meals and snacks.
As you get better at carbohydrate counting you will be able to start looking at other factors that affect your blood sugar levels, such as the day's activity levels, the fat content of the food (which slows down carb absorption), and the type and amount of insulin already onboard. And you thought algebra was complicated...
Here are some tips for learning about carb counting:
Get your tools together
You need to know which foods contain carbs and the amount of carbohydrates in the serve of that food you are about to eat.
Many foods have a Nutrition Information Panel printed directly on their packaging. The labels show how much carbohydrate is in a single serving of the food, and in 100 grams of the food. You can use this information to calculate the grams of carbohydrate in the amount of the food you will eat.
Always look at the 'total carbohydrate' on the label, not just 'sugars'. The total carbohydrate amount listed for a food includes starch, sugar and sugar alcohols. This is the number you need for insulin and meal planning.
You will notice that fibre is not included in the carbohydrate total. This is because fibre is not digested like starch or sugar carbohydrates and does not affect blood glucose in the same way. Read sugar-free labels carefully. Sugar-free does not necessarily mean carb-free!
Pay attention to serving size. Certain packaged foods contain more servings than you might expect. The serving size information might not apply to the size of the serving you normally eat. Think about a small 200g tub of yoghurt. We assume this will be one serve, but sometimes manufacturers will label it as two serves per container. If you eat the whole 200g tub, you need to double the numbers listed in the Nutrition Information Panel.
Websites, apps and books
At the Family Centre, we prefer Calorie King, which is available as a website, an app for iPhone, and this book. If you are making a recipe from scratch, the Calorie King website allows you to create a profile, input recipes and store them to come back to whenever you need them. This is a great place to store all your carbohydrate counting information! TAKE OUT the recipe calculator link, it is American and not as good as Calorie King.
Start by learning the carb counts for the foods you eat regularly
You don't need to know about the carbohydrates in ALL foods, just in the foods you eat. Many people eat the same types of foods often. Start with the foods you eat most often or with the ones you enjoy the most. You might like to make a list of these foods, and then determine how many carbs are in the portion size that you usually eat for each. Knowing the carb counts for the foods on your list is a great start. Store the list in your phone, or on a log book that is kept in the kitchen.
Measure how much you eat
If you eat more than a single serving of a particular food, you will need to make that adjustment in your carb count. Some foods are easy to count, like bread. The label shows a clear serving size, such as one slice. But the labels of some foods show a measured serving size, such as one cup or a half cup, or it may list the serving size in grams (g). In those cases, you will need to measure or estimate. A digital kitchen scale might be useful for weighing a serving in grams. It's certainly much easier to measure at home than in a restaurant! After a while, you will get very good at estimating portion sizes and carb counts.
Practice, Practice, Practice!
Write down everything you plan to eat. Pick out the foods that have carbs. Measure or estimate how much you will eat of each one. Look up the carb value on a nutrition label, or use the Calorie King app, website or book. Do this for a few days. Once you have learned how to count carbs, you can start looking at blood sugar levels before and after meals. Your levels will show you whether the foods you are eating match well with how much insulin you are taking.
There are lots of great recipe websites here that provide carbohydrate counts to make things easy for you!
The whole family will love the recipes from LiveLighter, a healthy living and eating campaign based right here in WA. Check out the website for lots of great ideas.
How handy is this? The Taste website has a special section of recipes with nutrition information made available. Check it out here.
The Sanitarium website has lots of yummy, healthy recipes with nutrition information.
We love the fun recipes from Disney made especially for kids with type 1! YUM.
Cooking on a budget? Our friends at Food Cents have lots of great tips and recipes that won't break the bank.
There are thousands of great recipes from Diabetes UK, all with nutrition information - what a great resource.
Snack recipe websites
Low carb recipe websites
The Taste website has a whole collection of low carb recipes, many with the nutrition calculation already done for you!
Also test out Ditch the carbs.
Or give Diet Doctor a go.
If you have a suggestion to add to our website, please email us.