Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Carb factors and why they are awesome

My name is Joanne and I weigh my daughter's food.

Pretty much everything she eats graces my kitchen scale.  And I'm okay with it.

It all started when she was diagnosed at the age of 12 months.  We quickly discovered that even 3g of carbs would raise her BG by 70-100.  Even these days when treating a low, we use 6g if we're dealing with anything 50 and above.  Just the other day, she was 53 and I gave her 6g.  A mere 10 minutes later, she was 134.

I guess she's just really sensitive to carbs. 

And I like weighing because it's the most precise way of counting carbs.  It also takes one thing out of the equation when you wind up with a wack-a-doo number after eating.  At least you know you counted the carbs correctly.

I love carb factors because they make it so easy to figure out carbs.  If you've never heard of carb factors before, read this post I did on them.  I think it's a pretty good explanation.

But my favourite thing about carb factors?  Is they make it easy to figure out the carbs of almost anything.  Even if you don't have the nutritional information, you can use a generic carb factor and come pretty darn close. 

For example, bread for the most part has a carb factor of between .47 and .59.  When eating out at a restaurant, I use a generic carb factor of .5 for that yummy, warm, soft bread that comes at the start of the meal, and it usually turns out fine.

Or pasta sauces are usually between .07 and .12 (hint: the more meat, the lower the carb factor).

Mashed potatoes generally run between .18 and .22.

Brown rice? .23.

Vanilla ice cream?  .23 to .25.

Because I have a good head for numbers, I can remember the carb factor for almost anything Elise has ever eaten.  It really has made eating out so much easier for us.  I can barely remember my own name, but I do know that nuggets at CFA have a carb factor of .1.

The other day I was making a cold oriental noodle salad dish for dinner.  It had noodles, chicken, carrots edamame, and a "dressing".  I must have lost my brain somewhere that day, because I threw everything in a bowl without weighing and figuring out the dish's carb factor.  Oops.

I had never made it before, but I had made pasta salad lots of times, and they all have noodles, veggies and meat, so I decided to use the carb factor for one of my pasta salads (.15 if you're wondering).

The result?  She was 104 before dinner, and 124 about 3 1/2 hours later.  I call that, "rockin' the casbah".

And that's the main reason I weigh and use carb factors.  D throws so many other curves at us, I like to try and control what I can.  Sure sometimes we forget the scale.  And I always eyeball and SWAG the cupcakes at a birthday party, but I think weighing Elise's food has a lot to do with why her A1Cs are in the low 6s.

I know that everyone does D differently, and that most of you would never be seen in public with a scale, but in the infamous words of Yo Gabba Gabba, "Try it... you'll like it!"

I really need to start watching better TV shows.


  1. I read your original post on this and think its GREAT, but I am still so confused (maybe dumb??). Hopefully, one of these days I'll get it. It starting to click a little more than before, so definitely a good sign!

  2. The first time I read about carb factors, my brain nearly melted. I couldn't figure it out at all. But then I went back and read more about them and it just clicked. Seriously, it changed my life.

    Is there something in particular you find confusing? Maybe I can help!

  3. I have used this website to help me work out the carb factors for some of my favourite recipes - - it was so good to know I could cook all our favourites and still bolus without taking a huge guess! I am a food weigher too!!

    1. What a great resource... I'd never seen it before. Thanks for sharing!

  4. I'd never seen anything about carb factors before reading your earlier post today. Maybe I'm naive, but I totally get it! Thanks for sharing.

  5. Rock the casbah, for sure! Nicely done!

  6. You really are a carb factor Rock Star! xoxo

  7. Carb factors are our friend too! I even have a small scale that is in out travel bag for restaurants.

  8. You take your scale on the road?!

    I weight trouble foods (cereal, crackers, potatoes, etc) at home, but I don't think I've ever weighed "on the road" :D

  9. Love the carb factors, too! Granted, I'm a sucker for just doing the serving size 'cuz it's easier on my over taxed brain. :)
    I don't weigh everything...maybe I should because low 6s sound glorious!! ;)

  10. Thanks so much for this post!! I swear, if you published a book of carb factors I would totally buy it- I am a convert as well! My daughter is only 3 and very sensitive to carbs too so weighing food helps us tremendously!

  11. Thanks for the reminder... learning to do carb factors is always somewhere on my "someday" to do list. I keep forgetting that I need to buy a new scale- our last one died months ago. We use measuring cups and eyeball portions most of the time with pretty good results, but maybe it's time I tried carb factors.

  12. I've been diabetic for almost 14 years now and I've never heard anyone (besides you) mention carb factors. This makes a lot of sense and I'm going to give it a try. I have such a hard time estimating my carb counts and this would help tremendously! Thanks!

  13. Thank you so much for this post. I had read about carb factors on D-mom blog, but "I need to find a scale like that" is as far as I've gotten, because I haven't seen a scale in stores around where I live. Online here I come. Just had a check-up with a 6.8 A1c, would love to be able to lower it some. The Dexcom helps...but once the food is in there and we're waiting to see what the insulin will do...well, sometimes that takes a few hours with a high. And YES! The standard "rule of 15"(grams to treat a low) is WAY too much! We use the 6g roll of Smarties...if she's 65 or lower. I'll give her half the roll for 66-80.

  14. One question: In the banana example are you including the peel in your weight?

    1. That's without the peel. If my memory serves me correctly (but don't quote me on this), I believe if you weigh the banana with the peel the carb factor is .13.

  15. Thanks for sharing this carb factor info!!! I'm a weigher too but I didn't know about carb factors till I read ur blog!! Thanks sooo much!! Love ur blog BTW!!!!


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