Hey you, Dont eat that, eat this…..
Carbs, carbs, carbs; social media seems to be constantly awash with the latest fad diets, extreme exercise regimes and carbs. Many healthy people really buy into these lifestyles and make it work very well for them. As a diabetic a healthy lifestyle is very important to me. I have spent hours looking into all the different ideas and thesis out there, many of them have one thing in common, cutting back on your carbohydrate intake.
How many carbs a day should we eat
I see this question time and time again on many diabetic forums. I always go back with the same answer;
” It will vary person to person, just experiment and find your own sweet spot ”
For me the sweet spot is about 150g carbs per day, which is around a 30% carb intake. By that I mean 30% of my daily calories come from carbohydrates.
There is a formula for working out how many carbs a day you need to eat and you can use different numbers to restrict your carb intake to say a 30% diet etc etc.
The recomendations for carb intake say a healthy diet will contain between 45% to 60% of your daily calorie intake made up from carbohydrates. We can use some maths to work out how many grams of carbs per day we want to eat, as I say I aim for 30% carb intake
Amount of calories per day / carb % factor = number of carbs per day to aim for
30% = 13.3 55% = 7.25
35% = 11.4 60% = 6.67
40% = 10 65% = 6.17
45% = 8.9 70% = 5.71
50% = 8
So for my 30% carb diet I use 13.3 as my carb factor;
2200/13.3=165g of carbs a day, and that is the maximum I aim for.
It is up to you to find your own sweet spot for the amount of carbs you are comfortable taking on board.
How I lowered my intake
When I was first diagnosed I was eating around 300g carbs a day, and taking insulin to match it. Quickly realising if I ate less carbs I would need less insulin, that must be a good thing right?
For one thing if you miscalculate when you are about to inject a 10 or 15u bolus injection, you could really do some damage. If you miscalculate on a 3 unit bolus the impact would be much smaller. It is basically the law of big numbers. The bigger the bolus the bigger the mistake if you get it wrong!
Deciding to make food swaps to lower the amount of carbs I was taking on board seemed logical to me.
Swap this for that
….. = Original carb value **** = Swapped food carb value ++++ = Carbs saved by swapping
- Instead of having a nice crusty white bread roll (47g) I now have a Lidl high protein roll (12g) 47g – 12g = 35g
- Bowl of cooked dried white spaghetti (50g) has been swapped out for spiralized courgette (5g) 50g – 5g = 45g
- Battered cod (30g) swapped to fresh cod cooked in garlic butter, and it tastes so much better (0g) 30g – 0g = 30g
- Sausage and egg sandwich (41g) has been relagated to a treat only breakfast and replaced with scrambled eggs and salmon (2g) 41g – 2g = 38g
- Breaded chicken steaks and pasta dinner (80g) has been reworked into a butternut squash and roasted chicken delight – (18g) 80g – 18g = 62g
- Chicken chow mein (60g) has been transformed into mixed vegetable noodles and fresh chicken (15g) 60g – 15g = 45g
- Any time a meal is served with rice (50g) I go for a nice cauliflower rice instead (9g) or if I am really cutting back on the carbs go for bare naked rice (0g) 50g – 9g = 41g
Just this small selection of swaps will save me 296g carbohydrate intake, or 30 units of insulin to put it another way!
Lidl High protein roll – halfway down this page, triangular shape – ➡ Lidl
Bare naked noodles/rice – Carb free and pretty much everything free – ➡ Bare Naked noodles/rice
If you like your cakes, there is a great website a good friend of mine runs, all about low carb baking ideas. Please do check out Ewelina’s great site ➡ Diabetic good baking
That’s just a few examples of the swaps I make on a daily basis, this list is endless, I am constantly reviewing my diet. It isn’t even a conscious thing anymore, just second nature.
I am lucky that my wife is a great cook and prepares many meals where carb swaps are in abundance, really does help me to control my blood sugars. A few snaps below of some recent dinners.
What about eating out
I still enjoy a good take away or a meal out from time to time. As anybody who wants to be healthy will know you can’t eat that type of food everyday. Keep these meals for special occasions and treats. If you do this then you can eat out here and there and still maintain good control.
Always look at the menu before going to a restaurant and make sensible choices.
- Don’t have a side order of chips – go for a salad or sweet potato fries
- Avoid meals which are in a sauce – these are bound to be full of hidden sugars and carbs
- Go for a protein high meal for a lower carb intake – mixed grill is a safe bet if you avoid the chips they always come with
- Always check the desert menu out first, if there is one you want then save your carb intake for desert and go low carb on starters and mains
- Use alcohol to your advantage – as discussed before alcohol can lower blood sugars – have a little G & T with your dinner once in a while
- Failing all of that, just work the carbs out and bolus for it!! We are all allowed a night off every now and then
You only live once
We only get one go at life, and in my view to never eat a carb again is just not the life for me. I am better off eating them in moderation and maintaining my control to the best I can practically.
As you can see I still eat carbs, I am just more selective about which ones these days. I also try to look at the overall GI value of my meals, I will leave that for another blog though!!
Diabetes isnt a one size fits all scenario, we all have to try things and see how it works for us.
Take care, carbs hide everywhere
Please take a moment to sponsor me for ➡ The London bridges challenge for Diabetes UK