When Kaitlyn was first diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, it was a major event to count carbs for every meal. We had to fiddle with measuring cups, refer to nutrition books, weigh things on our food scale, read package labels and finally come up with a total number of carbs. It then took even more time to test blood sugar and calculate how much insulin to give. We would even bring measuring cups and scales to restaurants! You should have seen the looks we got when we would measure out Kaitlyn’s half-cup of rice and put it on her plate in a perfect cylinder shape. It was difficult, to say the least, and at times completely overwhelming. We finally resorted to using a lot of packaged foods to ease our carb-counting headaches.
I can say that we have come a long way since then, and carb-counting has gradually become easier. In fact, we hardly think twice about it! We now estimate and “eyeball” carbs with confidence! Even though there are a few high-carb foods (rice, pasta, cake, and ice cream) that we still like to weigh or measure when possible, we pretty much consider ourselves carb-counting experts.
I had a thought the other day that I might be becoming overconfident in my carb-counting skill, and perhaps even relying too much on estimating. Let’s face it; I haven’t even opened my nutrition book in probably a year. The other day though, as I was packing baby carrots in Kaitlyn’s lunch, I got the idea that I should probably test myself on my carb-counting knowledge. Have I been writing accurate amounts all this time?
If there’s one area in which I have been a little bit lazy, it would be with fresh fruits and vegetables. It’s not that we don’t eat them regularly (we do!); it’s just a bit more work to be exact about the carbs. For one thing, every fruit and vegetable is a different size and shape, so it makes it hard for me to estimate.
Anyway, I decided I would dust off my old nutrition book and really take a look at the carb counts for the fresh produce we use all the time. I chose 21 items that we happened to have in our house for my little test. My husband and Kaitlyn wanted to do it too, so we turned it into a game. Each of us took a guess at what the carb count would be, and then we weighed the food on our food scale and found out the exact number. I am proud to say that I won! I was the closest guesser on almost all the items, but I have to admit that I was surprised on some of them. I was too low on the pear and the orange, and I guessed too high on the zucchini and the cucumber. I was way too low on the onion — but in my defense, when has anyone ever eaten a whole onion in one sitting?!
Overall, it was a fun and eye-opening experience! It was great to recalibrate some of our skills, and it was a good learning experience for Kaitlyn. I can tell you one thing — she won’t be counting carbs completely on her own anytime soon!
Disclaimer: The experiences and suggestions recounted in these articles are not intended as medical advice, and they are not necessarily the “typical” experiences of families with a child who has type 1 diabetes. These situations are unique to the families depicted. Families should check with their healthcare professionals regarding the treatment of type 1 diabetes and the frequency of blood glucose monitoring. Jen and Kim are real moms of kids with type 1 diabetes and have been compensated for their contributions to this site.