Carb Counting: Tips for Home and Away continued...
Learning portion sizes at home can also help you judge portions more accurately when you eat at a restaurant or at a dinner party. Loghmani and Campbell offer these tips to help you count carbs more accurately.
- When eating at home, use the same cup, bowl, glass, and plate. "That way if you always pour your milk to a certain point on the glass, or fill your bowl a certain amount, then you know that you're eating a consistent amount of food," Campbell says.
- Create a spreadsheet or list of foods you typically eat at home and then look up the values. Then if you typically eat a certain brand of cereal, you'll always know how many carbs you're getting.
- Look up software programs or web sites that can help you analyze your favorite recipes.
- Pre-portion snack foods by measuring out single servings and putting them in baggies. This can help you control your portions, carbs, fat, and calories. But be watchful of snacks. "People get tripped up with snacking," Campbell says. "It's a really bad habit -- for anybody -- to keep grabbing crackers or something out of the box." It's all too easy to forget how many you’ve eaten.
- When eating out, if you're not sure about portion sizes, try the “hand” method:
- A woman's fist = 1 cup
- Tip of the thumb = 1 teaspoon
- Whole thumb = 1 tablespoon
- Palm of the hand = 3 oz. serving
- Before dining out, go online and check the menu so you can plan what to order.
- Order simple meals when you go out. Avoid fancy mixed dishes with several ingredients and sauces. Campbell recommends getting a plain meal of chicken or lean steak and a vegetable. "That can make it easier to manage," she says.
- Speak up and ask what's in a dish and how it was prepared, whether you’re at a restaurant or a friend's house.
- For special dinners, such as during the holidays, eat the foods that are special to you and skip others you can get any time. For example, if you really love pumpkin pie, skip the mashed potatoes and bread and make dessert your carb portion of the meal. Just be sure to watch your portion sizes.
"I think the thing that I like people to know the most is that our body needs food -- we get over 40 different nutrients a day from food. And it's perfectly okay to continue to eat and enjoy food. It's just important also to learn how to balance the food, the medication, and the activity, so that you're meeting your goals for managing your diabetes," Loghmani says.