Carb Count Complaint: Cross Multipy

…and pull your hair out. There is an old adage in the Army that a Soldier is not happy if he is not complaining about something. That could also apply to people with Diabetes when it comes to figuring out carb counting. Don’t get me wrong, but the nutritional labels on food are the best thing since low carb pasta. Just one thing about them really annoys me and that is the “serving size” used to compute the nutritional data.

Yesterday I decided to have a can of soup for lunch. I was going to heat up a can of Progresso Light Southwestern-Style Vegetable Soup. I looked on the back to see how long to nuke it, as well as to get the carbs. Two to four minutes. No problem. Pour it into a bowl, cover and nuke it. While it is cooking, look at the can and figure out the carbs.

Now for the fun. It has 12 grams of carbs and 4 grams of dietary fiber per serving. Subtract the fiber from the carbs and that yields 8 net carbs per serving. So far so good. But for serving size, it says that there are ABOUT 2 servings per container. UGH - here we go again!

For me, I need to know exactly how many carbs I’ll consume so that I can enter that into the bolus wizard in my insulin pump. There isn’t an “about” with the pump. Now comes the fractional arithmetic I hated in grade school. OK, deep breath, grab scratch paper and pencil. (I wish I could find that darn calculator!) Here goes. A serving size is 242 grams. The can has a total of 524 grams. Put the 242 over 542. That equals 8 over “X” with X being the total carbs in the can. Now, multiply the 8 carbs per serving times the total food quantity of 542. That is 4,336 somethings. Now divide the 4,336 somethings by 242 (the serving size} which works out to 17.917 total net carbs per can.

Now I check my BG, wait for the meter, and hooray - it is 117. Time to fire up the pump’s bolus wizard. Enter 117 for BG, 17 (rounded down) into “carbs” and let the electrons fly and do the bolus.

Nuts - with the arithmetic complete, now my soup is cold. Then along comes a co-worker who says I shouldn’t eat that. And they wonder why I get cranky!

I read the can labels before I buy. If the carb counts per serving are not in convenient old school non-metric nunits( 1 cup, 1/2 cup), I do not buy them. My bolus wizard will do the math for me. I am going to try the TAG method proposed by Danny ,in his blog, to take into consideration the proteins and fats in my meals…That will be more than enough math for me, as I do this and attempt the MM CGMS again ( It has been resting in a box for three weeks, as I needed a vacation form “nursing” it)

God Bless,

I am a new Type 2 so I dont have to worry about the bolus stuff but I get frustrated when I buy different brands of frozen veggies and the carbs are different. In my diabetes class book, it says 1/2 cup of most cooked veggies are 5 carbs but on the bags it says 1 cups is like 2 or 3 - I have decided I am just going to believe the individual bag but it still drive me nuts. How can one bag of frozen broccolli be different from another bag? They both have broccolli in them. I am just going to try to buy the same brand from now on so I don’t have to keep changing my food log I have going.

And if I look on one of the calorie counter sites I also get different numbers for carbs and for fiber. I have a nice digital scale so if it is in grams I can weigh but I like the conventional old school measurements too. I haven’t been worrying about measureing after I cook if there is more than one portion in the can - I just do it before. So far, it works OK for me but than I don’t have to worry about matching the insulin.

Here is the lowdown on why one food item will have different carb values.

  1. Each seller with a labeling requirement is mandated to have samples of their product tested by an independent lab. The lab does the test, then the manufacturer puts it on their labels.
  2. Some of the other ingredients found in something basic (say, canned corn) may use corn syrup, aspartame or something else which will impact the resulting carb and other nutritional values for the product.
  3. Even more maddening are the estimates from cookbooks. Note in the ingredients list that it will call for “1 medium apple.” Medium is not too carefully defined, nor is a medium Red Delicious the same size as a medium Macintosh, nor do they have the same sugar content - which can further vary based on shen it is harvested.
  4. When you go with an imperial measurement of food be careful not to confuse weight and volume. Double check that against the metric measurement to be safe. Anyway, you will still have to do the math. FOr the can of soup in the example cited in my longer blog post, it gave the total weight of the product as 18.5 oz, the serving size as 1 cup, and 12 grams of carbohydrates per serving.