Counting carbohydrates for people with Diabetes mellitus- part 1

I know it is a boring title and the message in it is cliché. Sometimes it gets on my nerves to read even a line with nutritional advice in it. I get it. Especially from those who know nothing about body composition, biochemistry and physiology. Sometimes I want to scream at them!  But then I try to calm myself and Sree has to bear everything. Poor him! The story behind this post is my mother told me one day that there are people in India who are on insulin pumps but they have no idea about carbohydrate counting and managing insulin. I won’t call myself expert in it, I am still learning about carbohydrate counting. Whatever knowledge I have gathered being a person with type 1DM for 25 years, being on insulin pump for 8 years and being a Medical Doctor specializing in managing patients with diabetes, I am going to explain here in parts.

Why carbohydrate counting for patient with Diabetes Mellitus? Because major impact on blood glucose is by carbohydrates or starch that we eat. Proteins and fats also get converted into glucose too. Shocked? It is a reality. Let me put it this way – 1 gm of carbohydrate will get converted 100% into glucose.Out of 1 gm of protein that we eat 60% will be glucose in next 2-8 hours and out of 1 gm of fat, 10% of it into glucose in next 2-8 hours.

People with diabetes mellitus basically have a lot of fluctuations in blood glucose and that extra spill of blood glucose also causes our body to convert the glucose into triglycerides as a storage form in presence of insulin. Increase in blood glucose by eating more, followed by taking insulin for keeping blood glucose in control leads to increase in triglycerides and increase in weight. That is one of the reason people put on weight when they start using pump. I went through that and I don’t want you guys to go through it!

How much carbohydrates should we eat as a person with diabetes mellitus( also normal people who do not want diabetes.) – Less than 150 gms a day. Also it depends on how physical is your work. If the person is doing all the manual labor work then 150 gms would be low for him as he/she needs more carbohydrates for instant energy. If it is a sedentary work I would say go as low as possible without going into hypoglycemia. For in general carbohydrate counting you will need measuring cups at least 1/3rd cup and 1/2 cup, measuring spoons, small food scale. I know this is a lot, but trust me it is worth it. Remaining we will see in next blog post.

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