Eating and Counting, Counting and Eating

October 1st, 2010 by Amy Gonsalves Leave a reply »

It’s no big secret that diabetics care about the carbohydrate counts of the food we eat.  We have to—if we didn’t care about how many carbohydrates we ate, we’d be bouncing around with much more metabolized sugar in our blood stream than is healthy.  (I mean, more than we do anyway.)

I remember having to match the food I ate to the insulin I took.  What a miserable way to eat!  If I was hungry, I ate the same thing as if I weren’t hungry.  Every meal was supposed to be the same, in an effort to minimize the variances that comprise an interesting and enjoyable life.

No wonder that system didn’t work out very well for me.

Now that I match my insulin to the food I eat, I have a much better time with things.  Meals are more enjoyable, and it just feels good to use my brain and have options when it comes to feeding myself.

I read a question from a parent earlier who asked how people count carbohydrates at a restaurant, if the food isn’t listed in a calorie book.


I don’t think the point of counting carbohydrates is to make it an exact science.  I think the point is to get as close as we can, but there comes a point where you need to simply let go. 

If it were easy, we’d all do it and we’d all have non-diabetic A1cs and we’d never go high or low.


So get used to the fact that this is the human body.  If it were simple, we’d all live long healthy lives with little difficulty.  If it were a mathematic equation we’d study, pass the exam, and next time when we get the same exact question we’d have the same exact result.

But that isn’t diabetes.

Diabetes involves a TON of guesses.  Educated guesses, of course, but still: when it comes down to it we are guessing.  So quite honestly if you are off by 5 or 10 grams when you’re counting a new food, one day you’ll go low and another day you’ll go high.  It’s just how the disease works in our body.

Don’t skip a new restaurant because you don’t know if they rinse their pasta before serving the spaghetti, leaving starchy water on the pasta which may result in more carbohydrates on the plate.  Don’t avoid trying a new dish because you don’t know how many carbohydrates are in the sauce.  Don’t go only to restaurants with calorie counts on their wall… who knows if the person in the kitchen used a different size spoon than the person making the calculations?

Do take a class in carbohydrate counting.  Do get a set of measuring cups and use them as serving spoons at home for a few weeks.  Do look at what the sizes look like on your plate.  Learn the basics for what you need to count, and use that knowledge in the world.  Interact with your world and involve yourself.  Take guesses.  Let go of the idea of ever getting it “right”.  (It’s going to change tomorrow, anyway.)

Your world is as big and as beautiful as you let it be.  Don’t let the variances that affect your life with diabetes make that world smaller by one inch.

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