How do you weigh what you eat - accurately?

I always wondered how does one weigh the amount of carbs, proteins, etc while they eat. Let us say, one eats a sandwich from a SUB, how do I know the exact calorie content?

One more thing I noticed on a chocolate bar which weighed 13grams was a small print that gave information - something like 28.5grams of sugar - I was astonished until I completely read that it was for a bar weighing 100 grams.

Now, I wondered, when I am on a low (hypo?), do I get my calculator out or a weighing machine (a spring balance anyone?) out before I eat the bar.

I was wondering with all the apps for iPhone, Android, etc for the SmartPhones, would it be possible to let them act as a “weighing machine”??

Isn’t it a “new” idea for another app to the already tons out there!!! (As the cliche goes, necessity is the mother of invention).

Although, its a layman’s view from here, I was trying to understand how does everyone manage when they are on the go?

The app is a good idea! You could weigh stuff on the touch screen! It might void your warranty if you get tomato juice all over it though?

A lot of times, I estimate carb counting. I have a scale at home and know that this much rice is about 50G of carbs but it’s not exact, particularly at a restaurant, where you don’t know exactly what sort of rice it is but being +/- 10% seems to do ok. I toally guess for protein, a big hunk I’ll add 10G of carbs for and more reasonable, maybe 5G, Same thing for condiments like salsa, etc. For hypos, most of the time, I use jelly beans in little ziploc baggies. A baggie is about 40G or 35G of carbs so maybe 5-10 jelly beans seems to cure a low.

That would be the coolest app! I wish that existed. Perhaps you should make it yourself.

I really like to maintain tight control so I like to weigh or measure everything that goes in my mouth. I like to have just the right amount of insulin to dose. It’s definitely ocd but it’s how I like to do things. It’s probably the perfectionist ballerina in me. Once in a while I’ll estimate but especially at home I just pull out my trusty scale and then I don’t have to guess. It only takes a few seconds and then I know.

Of course I’m not going to bring my scale with me out to lunch with friends, that would be strange! An app would make it a teensy bit less strange.

We do the same thing and if a restaurant does not have a nutritional menu we go by a comparable restaurants info but we always have to use our own rational judgment about if what is on the plate matches what the nutritional value on their menu and adjust accordingly. How hard can it be though with a 5 yr old who is on the “chicken fingers and fries” restaurant diet, but will select broccoli over fries if on the menu (huh?)… At home we use the Eat Smart scale and it works out pretty good.

You can get small scales the size of a pocket calculator, such as this one. I don’t have one but have thought about buying one, except I think that might be a bit too OCD …

I just estimate when I’m out. If there is no label and I can’t weigh something I also try to stick with stuff I know is lower-carbohydrate, like getting a salad at a restaurant as opposed to pasta.

I estimate. When I was younger, everything was weighed and measured or done on the exchange system and I just hate that. I am able to guestimate fairly well and I have a couple of iPhone apps that help me figure out carb content. I am usually good about judging based on cups (i.e., whether something is 1 cup or 1/2 a cup) and the app I use (CarbFinder) can then calculate the carbs based on that unit of measurement. I also try to stick to things that I know won’t really screw up my BG. For example, salads, fruit, egg dishes, etc. I stay away from bread, pasta, and rice, as those foods are just evil on my BG. For the past few years I tried to eat them in moderation, but it never worked out too well.

Jen, too funny, I just ordered that scale. I’ll let you know how it goes :slight_smile:

When cooking at home, I measure by weight rather than volume, so I have pretty close to exact counts, especially when I’m cooking from scratch.

Regarding package labeling, US standard is per “serving size” (which could be some odd fraction of the package size); most imported food from the Eastern Hemisphere is labeled per 100 g (3.5 oz), with the serving size listed in grams. Use a percentage calculator to determine the relative nutritional information of what you intend to be eating.

I bring a small postal scale whenever I go to a restaurant. If you’re testing at the table and dosing with insulin you’re already “strange”. Go for it.


I took my son’s scale to our favorite sub shop and asked to weigh the roll before they made the sandwich. The large, soft roll was 70 grams of carbs. So, now we know and can just order his favorite hoagie and be pretty accurate.

If you are eating at SUB (Subway?), before eating you go to the restaurant chain’s website and look up the nutritional information. Some places have it listed in the restaurant and some even have it on the packaging (e.g. McDonald’s here in the UK) but if I’m not sure, I look it up beforehand. Calorie content is not as important as carb content.

I seldom eat carb when dining out but have trained myself to estimate by sight and by approximation. For example, I carry in my head a picture of a portion of McDonald’s small fries, which are 32g of carb, and I try not to eat any more than the equivalent of that when eating out. (No eating companion will ever say no to having extra fries!!!) For rice, it’s 10g of carb per soup spoon. For baguette, 10g of carb per inch, so I measured my fingers to see which of my digits is closest to an inch, and I use that. Once you have the basic measurements established in your head, it gets a lot easier.

I do find it extremely hard with Indian food, for example the other week I made some rava dosai and I knew how much carb was in the total amount of batter. But I didn’t swirl the same amount of batter into the pan for each dosai so it was hard to estimate. You don’t have that problem with ready-made stuff like parathas. But I’m guessing living where you do, you don’t need to get your parathas from the freezer like I do…

Food manufacturers are legally required to display nutritional information per 100g, at least here in the UK. Being a diabetic means that you have to learn to read food labels and be able to do the mental math. I think you mentioned before you have an engineering type background? That shouldn’t be so difficult for you then.

For hypos, I keep pre-measured 15g of carb around the house so I don’t even have to think, I just grab the pre-measured carb. Chocolate bars are not supposed to be used as hypo treatment btw. Though I have to confess my own hypo treatments are all off-book, e.g. 12 peanut M&Ms, 10 large cherries, individually-wrapped hazelnut-chocolate wafer biscuits! The key is to find out what works for you, and then have a supply of them available.

If you want to develop an app for this, I’m sure there will be takers out there. My brain is like a computer anyway, so I find it most efficient to process all the information endogenously!

Wow, Emily! Does your family of four only get through 6oz of pasta? You guys have small appetites or great self-control. My other half can easily get through 6oz of pasta by himself. But then he does have a perfectly-functioning pancreas…

Ha ha. You do realize that is dry weight! LOL 1 serving = 2oz. 6oz cooked spaghetti fills a serving bowl, man he’s got an appetite! Our kids, fourth being only 5 years old doesn’t eat much and our T1teen is OK with smaller servings of pasta since we are talking carb-heavy here and it still fills half his plate. :slight_smile:

True! I guess we cross that boundary when we pull out the syringes!

Two things I will say:

(1) I think I do 75 percent of my eating out at the same group of restaurants, and a lot of people are the same way. Over time, if you order the same things, you will get a handle on how much insulin you need to cover them. It’s not important to know precisely how many carbs are in them if you know precisely how much insulin to take, and you can get this data through trial and error if you have the same thing enough.

(2) Weighing stuff is useful to the extent that it gives you a reference point for what 2 ounces of pasta, 4 ounces of fruit, etc. look like, or what a roll with 30g of carbs looks like, and you can make more informed guesses when you go out. This whole process becomes a lot easier once you acknowledge that it’s fundamentally all guesswork. I can’t speak for everyone, but I know that I would go absolutely bonkers if I weighed everything, or even weighed most things. If you get good enough results by estimating, that’s really all you can ask for, and if you’re not getting good enough results it might have nothing to do with your estimates (i.e. your I:C ratio could be off).

After 52+ years of Type 1 I have never weighed my food, I just estimate and eat. Usually I am pretty close. I also use to find some things.

Hi all, Thanks very much for the responses.

@acidrock23, what I had in mind was something like in this picture pasted here, remember when i said spring balance.

I wanted to add a hook, may be extendable using a good steel wire or something better which would come out of the phone as it is hooked to a bag or bowl or something, say like it is elongated. Also, a high tensile strength material could be used(?) for the wire and there would anyway be some max weight that we could weigh. The weight could be displayed "digitally" on the phone screen and selecting the type of food we are weighing will give us the number of calorie content, nutritional value, etc. Not sure if this idea is already being developed somewhere.

With your permission, I would like to post this item on my blog. @Moderator, please let me know if this is fine??

@catherinejanevancak, thanks very much for supporting my idea.

@Jen, thanks for sharing info about something similar.

@Emmy, excellent description, would have to take some time out to read through. And also, thanks for all the links.

@tmana, I also like to eat home cooked food, but that is not always possible. Also, thanks for the clarification regarding "serviing size".

@theresa goerner, my son is around 4yrs old. But thankfully, i am the only one diabetic.

@lila, usage of "SUB" was just metaphorical, I could eat at a pizzeria or any other restaurant as well. I like the way you describe your mind working "endogenously". Also, we Indians especially south indians are rice-eaters, so there is a lot of starch in the food. Parathas, rotis, phulkas cooked hot and eaten is much better than having frozen ones.

@Emily, great math for the entire family, are you in a teaching profession by any chance?

@ultravires, we are what we repeatedly do, hence i think its good to stick to a good set of restaurants and to a particular set of menu items. Of course, like all the others, i do get tempted when i see ice-cream or sweetmeats.

@RonDoyle, i am very much happy to learn that you can survive so many years with T1 diabetes, your story gives people like me hope.

Thank you all. Cheers.