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Diabetes And Precision Carb Guessing

A  diabetes-friendly Happy Meal.  :: rimshot ::I keep measuring cups in my purse so that I can measure out my dinners out to be exact. I keep a small food scale in the glove compartment of my car so I am never guessing how many ounces a certain item might be. And I have the Calorie King booklet in my pocket at all times, so that I’m never left guessing. I even sewed pockets into all my clothes, just to bring the booklet around.

(The previous paragraph is filled with lies. Big, fat ones.)

I wish I was a precision carb counter. I wish I had the patience for it, always either eating pre-packaged and factory-analyzed foods or spending my time carefully measuring and weighing any home cooked adventures. But I am not a precision carb counter. I’m a precision carb guesser.

During the nine months of baby-building, I became pretty good at guesstimating carb content based on the size of the food serving.  You know, like a “deck of cards” is the size of a meat serving, or an oatmeal serving the size of my fist.  (When I was at dLife, the food and nutrition editor did this article on serving size visualizations, which I thought was really good.)  But while pregnant, I tested a LOT and wore the Dexcom every damn day, so there wasn’t much of a chance for my blood sugars to dance around due to controllable variables.  (Hormones?  That was a whole different story – they made my numbers nutty.)

But now, with baby out and my level of diabetes management slacking a good amount, I’m losing my attention to those foodie details.  I’m back to eyeballing things without a reference point (“That bathtub of pasta?  That’s about 25 grams of carbs.”) and doing some seriously wild guessing.

I’m okay with being a guesser.  It fits with my lifestyle (my purse isn’t big enough for a scale, thank you very much) and I’m reasonably good at it.  For me, the key to keeping meals from spiking me all over the place is to do the following:

  1. Bolus well in advance for meals.  Not the 15 minutes I was told when I first started on Humalog.  I’m talking like 35 minutes before I take a bite.
  2. Asking about rogue sauces in meals.  When we’re dining out, I always ask if the meat comes with a sauce or if the salad comes drenched in dressing.  I’ve found that “on the side” helps me keep from devouring hidden carbs.
  3. Refresh my visual memory.  I need to remind myself, at least once a month, what “one serving of pasta” looks like.  I need to measure it out at home and actually look at it before I chow on it.  Because without that reminder, portion sizes get all distorted in my head and suddenly I think one “small apple” is akin to this

Small tricks go a long way in making guessing more effective.  I’m at peace with being a precision carb guesser.  Do you guys have any tricks that you use to help count carbs?  Or to just keep track of what’s happening on your plate in general?

*This blog post was originally published at Six Until Me.*

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