Carb counting is NOT a diet like the much publicized plans as Atkins and South Beach. Carb counting is a lifestyle of checking and planning your food consumption to keep blood sugar levels stable or for weight loss or just healthy eating. Carb count refers to the number of carbohydrates found in a serving of food. Dietary carbohydrates, put simply, are the sugars and starches in food that influence blood sugar levels and/or weight. The scientific/medical definition is more complex, but easily researched if you are interested. For the cook’s purpose – all you need to know is the carb count per serving and what the carb goal per day is.
Your doctor will help you determine your daily carb intake, depending on your activity. You also need to use common sense. The first goal given Wheels, as a highly active person, would have increased his carb intake beyond what he had ever eaten on a daily basis. Research, questions and providing more information produced a goal that was more in line with his needs. In general, most people need around 45 carbs per meal depending on activity level. I’m not going to tell what guideline is used in our house, because YOUR needs are more important here.
First step in implementing carb counting is to become familiar with the nutrition label found on the back of every food package. This, unfortunately, is time consuming. Spend time in the grocery aisle reading labels and you quickly learn which items and brands are best suited for you. (Hint: it is almost never anything labeled “fat free” or low fat.) Keep a list. Once the learning curve is past, your grocery shopping will take no more time than before. Promise!
Check two things on every nutrition label 1) Carbohydrates. This item is followed by a number. The lower the number the better. You may hear that you can subtract fiber and/or sugars that are listed below the carb count. I figure it won’t make a difference in the long run so I vote for the simple solution – use the carb count. 2) Serving size. If you have two different products with the same carb number, compare the serving size. If one is bigger with the same number of carbs – there’s your choice. Pay attention to serving size when it comes time to – you know – serve.
A cup of milk or slice of bread will generally have 15 carbs, as will a small piece of fresh fruit, half cup of oatmeal, one third cup of pasta, 2 small cookies, 1 tablespoon of syrup, jam or jelly or half a dozen crackers. The good news is that many fresh vegetables have a negligible carb count, eggs, meat and more have none. Follow along as we chronicle and share our good eats!