It’s all very well embarking on a low-carb diet, but how do you work out how many carbs are in the food you eat?
Here at the Diabetes Diet we encourage people to cook for themselves as it’s the best way to eat a good diet, but home cooking comes without the handy labels you get on ready-made food complete with their nutritional breakdown.
Meat, fish, eggs, cheese, nuts and fat have few or no carbohydrates, but vegetables and seasonings and ingredients used for thickening stews and sauces do have carbs. If you made a chilli con carne, for example, there would be carbohydrates in that from the onions, tomato sauce and kidney beans.
One easy way to work out carbohydrates in the dishes you make is to use a carb and calorie counting app or website. One example is myfitnesspal, where you can enter your recipes and the app will give you a nutritional break-down of what’s in your recipe – calories, carbs, protein content, fibre content and fat content.
If you don’t want to use an online tool, you can also use resources such as the Collins Gem carb counter. Bear in mind, for both ideas you’ll need to be weighing and measuring everything going into your recipe.
It does sound obvious, but many people have recipes and dishes they make where they don’t bother weighing or measuring anything simply because it is a dish they have been making for years. I prefer digital scales for their exact measurements and because you can weigh food in bowls or saucepans by setting the scale to nil.
If you have set a daily carbohydrate limit for yourself (we explore carbohydrate limits in the Diabetes Diet and what limits are suitable for different people, according to their health goals), then it is probably easiest to take that total and divide up by your meals.
In theory, if you were on a limit of 50-60g, then that equates to roughly 20g a meal, but you might want to stick to very low carbohydrate breakfasts and lunches and keep back a bit more for dinner.
And vice versa of course. You need to find a way of eating that you like, that fits in with your life and that you can keep up.
Pic thanks to Wikipedia.