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Written by Andi Balog
Carb counting is one of those things that type 1s and regular people think of completely differently. The average person generally only counts carbs as a strategy for weight loss - whereas the purpose of counting carbs for type 1 is to be able to accurately dose our insulin at mealtimes.
What I have seen carb counting do to my clients who are type 1 is label food as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ based on how many carbs they have. Lots of carbs = bad. Low carb = good.
Realistically that’s not the case. Carbs are a macronutrient and are found in certain foods. They serve a purpose. It is not recommended to overeat any food, and for some, a low-carb option isn’t always the answer. Not for managing Type 1, and not for weight loss either.
So with that said, when it comes to counting carbs and improving your carb counting skills, there are a few things I’ve recommended clients to do!
1. Make use of apps and tech available to you
E.g. Calorie king (Australia) or My fitness pal
These are both fantastic apps that can help you learn what is in your food and then take note of how that affects your body as an INDIVIDUAL - because all foods will affect each person differently.
If you have kids, get them involved in preparing food as soon as possible. It’s a great way to practice maths as well as getting better at counting carbs. Rather than avoiding carbs altogether - embrace learning and getting to know all foods. Eventually, you will be able to eat and manage your blood glucose around all types of foods, which may decrease nutrient deficiencies and lead to a more whole-food diet.
3. Plan your meals
Write down your regular meals including ingredients, carbs per serve, and store them in a note or recipe book. This can lead to less stressful mealtimes as you will know the carb counts of familiar foods. I sometimes recommend marking recipe books with post-it notes with carb counting for next time.
4. Test your memory
Once you have a basic understanding and have been doing it for a while - test your memory before going straight to apps etc for carb counts ... e.g. carrot has this much .. so I estimate this much… This will help lead to a new way of eating.