At our last Type 1 diabetes support group meeting we talked about carbohydrate counting, commonly referred to as carb counting.
The group was made up of people who practiced carb counting, people who kind of practiced, people who knew about it but didn't know where to start and some who never heard of it. We were a motley crew.
The topic was introduced by stating that carb counting has been around for a long time in one form or another. When I was diagnosed in 1993 I was introduced to the Exchange List. This was a list of commonly eaten foods such as bread, weetabix, that contained roughly the same amount of carb. For example 1 slice of bread contained approximately 15 grams of carb as did 1 weetabix. The idea was that if you had weetabix for breakfast in the mornings and fancied a change you could switch it for toast.
In today's world we can do carb counting by either weighing our food in grams or using the unit Carb Portion (CP). It's a bit more precise than the exchange list.
We, then, discussed today's methods of carb counting and what exactly it is. "Carbohydrate counting is a method of matching your insulin requirements with the amount of carbohydrate you eat and drink."
If you take insulin, you can use carbohydrate counting to decide how much insulin to take.
The benefits that carb counting can give you are:
· May lead to better blood glucose control and greater flexibility and freedom of lifestyle.
· May be able to predict your blood glucose response to eating different foods and drinks.
· Eat according to your appetite.
· Enjoy a wider variety of foods.
· Enjoy restaurant and takeaway meals.
The only disadvantage to carb counting the group came up with was that you really have to put great deal of time and effort to get those benefits.
Where do I learn more if you live in the Mid-West?
· The dietitian at your clinic or any registered dietitian who is knowledgable in Type 1 Diabetes.
· DAFNE (Dose Adjustment For Normal Eating) courses http://www.dafneonline.co.uk/DAFNE is a structured education course delivered in a five day intensive skills based education programme to people with Type 1 Diabetes. In this course, people learn how to adjust their insulin dosage to suit their free choice of food, rather than having to work their life around their insulin doses. DAFNE aims to encourage and equip people who have Type 1 diabetes to manage their insulin regimens actively and independently. This course is available only to patients who attend the Diabetes clinic in University Hospital Galway.
· BERGER course The Berger Programme is a comprehensive diabetes self-care skills course, named after Professor Michael Berger, the eminent Endocrinologist who recognised the value of teaching people how to adjust insulin to match their daily food intake. This programme is designed for people with Type 1 diabetes. People attending this course learn how to adjust their insulin dose depending on their food choice. The course also focuses on enhancing diabetes self-management skills. This course is run in St. John’s Hospital Limerick 061/462271
· BRUCIE - Better Regulation Using Carbohydrate and Insulin Education BRUCIE is an education programme aimed at providing adolescents over 12 years with diabetes the skills to understand the relationship between food, blood results and insulin dose adjustments. The workshop is based on developing practical skills and involves gaining a greater understanding of the effect of diet on their blood glucose levels. Education sessions on carbohydrate counting are also provided for parents of adolescents who attend BRUCIE. A joint session with adolescents and parents is provided at the yearly follow up. BRUCIE is delivered by the diabetes Dietitian and the Advanced Nurse Practitioner in diabetes. This course is available to patients who attend the Diabetes clinic in University Hospital Galway.
· Private Carb Counting Course by Kelly Johnson. The cost of the course is €150 for two full days. Contact information: mobile number: 086 8117676. She is hoping to run a course on 29th Sept and the 6thOctober.
If you don't live in the Mid West you can find out about carb counting courses from your diabetes clinic or from the DAFNE website.