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Carbohydrate counting made easy for Type 1 Diabetes management

Edited: 17.04.2024

Yong Xuan Ooi

HelloType1 Coordinator Malaysia, A4D

1. What is carbohydrate counting for diabetes, and why is it important?

When it comes to managing type 1 diabetes, nutrition plays a key role, as well as, carbohydrate intake, as they are an important source of nutrients in most meals.

Counting carbohydrates helps in maintaining stable blood glucose levels. The optimal blood glucose level that is recommended is between 70 and 180 mg/dl (3.9 and 10.0 mmol/L) for at least 70 percent of the day.

If we don't consider the amount of carbohydrate we eat each day, our blood glucose level could get dangerously high.

On the other hand, if we don't eat enough carbohydrates, our blood glucose level could get dangerously low (known as hypoglycemia).

By keeping track of the carbohydrates we eat, we can better manage our blood glucose level and avoid problems coming from it being too high or too low. Being too high may cause negative long term effects on our body.

Don't stress if you're not a math person! WELCOME TO THE CLUB!

2. Starting the basics of your journey in carbohydrate counting for diabetes

Start by working with your healthcare team, especially a nutritionist, dietitian, or a diabetes educator who can help you through the process.

They will give you advice that best fits your wants and lifestyle. You will learn the basics of carbohydrate counting for diabetes from these experts. Initially, counting carbohydrates may seem like too much to learn, but there are many tools available that can help you with.

It is crucial to understand the types of carbohydrates and their impact on blood glucose level. There are two basic classes of carbohydrates, simple and complex. Simple carbohydrate, those found in sweets and sugary drinks, can cause a quick rise in blood glucose. However, whole-grain foods, vegetables, and beans are good examples of complex carbs, which have a more gradual effect on blood glucose levels.

Learning these differences can make it easier to pick healthier options at the grocery store.

3. Estimating visually and reading nutritional labels

Visual tools can be very helpful when trying to estimate portion sizes and carbohydrate content.

You can estimate the size of a piece of fruit with your hand or the amount of pasta with a measuring cup.

For example, a cupped hand can help you figure out how much rice or pasta to put on a plate.

This method gives you a visual reference and helps you estimate meal carbohydrates more accurately.

On the nutritional label of most prepackaged foods, you can see how many carbohydrates they have labels as "carbs" and are measured in grams. This makes it easy to keep track of how many carbohydrates you eat when you're doing carbohydrate counting for diabetes.

This choice can be helpful if you're always on the go or don't have much time to cook.

4. Using a food diary or an App that counts carbohydrates

By writing down what you have eaten in a food diary or using an app, you can keep track of your progress as you're counting carbs for diabetes.

It is also easy to see patterns and make changes to your meal plan and insulin schedule if needed.

By using food apps, this may make it easier to count carbohydrates, especially when trying new foods or eating out. Many food apps may show how many grams of carbohydrates, protein, fats, and fiber there are, so you don't have to do any math. These apps also let you keep track of how many carbs you have eaten for the day and tell you when to check your blood glucose.

Keeping track is important so that you can figure out which food works best and make changes. This helps you stay in the optimal blood glucose level range in between 70 and 180 mg/dl or 3.9 and 10.0 mmol/L.

5. Being patient in practicing carbohydrate counting for diabetes

With time and practice, you can learn to estimate how many carbohydrates are in common foods without using labels or measuring tools as much.

This skill comes in handy when it's not possible to measure something exactly.

Think of counting carbohydrates as another skill that you can learn and get better at with practice and time.

Be patient with yourself and have a learning attitude. Each day is different. Knowing how our bodies respond is a game changer.

Your ability to estimate and use carbohydrate counting into your daily life will improve with practice.

Believe in yourself, YOU CAN DO IT!

CARBOHYDATE COUNTING IS DOABLE. Let carbohydrate counting help you take charge in of your diabetes management!

People with type 1 diabetes may already know that carbohydrate counting for diabetes can be a useful skill in letting us better manage our blood glucose.

When you know this plan, you will be well on your way to taking charge of your diabetes. Do know that you cannot master counting carbohydrates in a day. It takes time to try out different things and see which ones work best. Try to change one thing at a time so you can see how each change affects your blood glucose.

Do not be afraid to ask for assistance . There are helpful people close by.

You can learn more by joining in community groups like HelloType1 on Facebook and there are also several articles available online.

Remember that it can be hard to manage your blood glucose levels without watching how much carbohydrate you have eaten. This could cause problems that are not good.

We can definitely make carbohydrate counting a part of our daily lives and take charge of how we deal with diabetes.

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