I am a big fan of the carb exchange system. As a matter of fact, I learned about the system when I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes years ago (the god old days, when the promise of cake a cookies was right around the corner!). I still use it sometimes, when I’m feeling interested in watching what I eat, that is. Sidenote – I’ve been a pretty crappy diabetic lately. I think that I actually blogged something touching on this a while back…. here it is.
Anyway, at the core, this system is pretty simple: 1 carb choice is 15 grams of carbs. Easy enough, no? The Mayo Clinic website goes into more detail about all this than I plan to. I only use this for carbs. When it comes to counting calories and all that, well I’m not too interested.
The guideline that I have always stuck to is such: 45 grams (or 3 carb choices) per meal, three meals a day, and 15 grams (or 1 carb choice) per snack, 1 – 2 snacks a day. This plan gives me 11 – 13 carb choices per day, or 165 – 195 grams of carbs per day. Looking on the internet, there are a lot of different suggestions and guidelines, so there really isn’t much to post here in the way of reference articles. What I can say is your carb intake needs to reflect your needs and only your doctor can really give you a proper RDA (recommended dietary allowance). I have never had a problem sticking to the guideline I use for myself, and even if I’m slacking on my diet, I sometimes refer to that to kind of see “hmm can I eat this?” and it works for the most part. (Read more about carb counting here!)
If you have never tried Weight Watchers, you wouldn’t know that certain foods carry a number of “points” and you have a set limit of points per day. Sound familiar? There are books with point assignments for foods from Weight Watchers. The good thing about carb counting is that you can figure the points out without any sort of extras! 15 = 1! (sorry math majors, didn’t mean to make you cringe) If you do want some kind of reference chart, here’s one! Aaaaaand here’s another one!
If you do one thing diet-wise for your diabetes, make it this. Don’t tell yourself you’re going to cut out all carbs, that unrealistic, impossible, and unhealthy (you need carbs for energy!). If you don’t want to be hassled with picking the right carbs right away (this will come later, naturally!), just limit what you do eat…. you need to start somewhere and for me, this was a great, easy place. Every little bit helps.