Diagnosed in 1986 with type 1 diabetes (Kerri, you're diabetic? I had no idea...), my first diabetes meal plan involved that dreaded exchange system. Two starches, a protein, a fat, a fruit ... a headache with each meal. Since my insulin at the time was Regular and NPH, I was matching food to insulin and constantly chasing that bell curve. Meal times were a constant hassle, with my poor mother whipping out measuring cups and teeny food scales at restaurants, referring to the Big Red Joslin Handbook for exchange values, and swearing under her breath with savvy and discretion.
As a result of this willy-nilly (ooh, fun phrase) mash-up of insulin and food, it was tough to hold my numbers steady. We could only predict somewhat how my numbers would react to my mealplan. It wasn't until fast-acting insulin, the precision of insulin pumping, and the frustrating miracle of carbohydrate counting that I was able to eat with more pleasure and better predict the blood sugar outcome.
I am not good at "eye-balling" food portions. Without second-guessing, I can convince myself that a cup and a half of pasta is only a cup. What looks like fifteen green grapes captured in a plastic bag ends up actually being 26. And please don't even ask me what a tablespoon of ketchup is, because I have no clue.
Which is why, when the guy at Eat Smart contacted me about his nutrition scale, I was all about giving it a go. He offered to send me a sample scale to review, at no cost and no payment to me. So FYI - this is not a paid review.
The scale arrived in the mail yesterday and it has a jazzy, streamlined look to it, which I like. Figuring out how to turn the thing on and make sense of all the buttons was not intimidating to me (as I've mentioned before, I have serious techno-joy) but I could see it being a little overwhelming for someone not as tech-savvy. However, the instruction manual was very straight-forward and within a few seconds, I was weighing in my mid-morning apple.
According to the Calorie King website, my apple should have contained roughly 19.1 grams of carbohydrate. This is an estimation based on the size of the apple and my perception of that size. According to the nutrition scale, my apple contained 15.3 grams of carbohydrate. At first glance, it looks like a "tomato, to-mah-toe" issue, but when I'm aiming to keep my numbers as steady and eliminate as many variables as possible, even 5 grams makes a difference.
In addition to weighing random items with precision, the scale also offered up plenty o' nutritional info like calories, carbohydrates, fiber, fat content, sodium ... and on and on and on. At this stage in my life, I'm mostly focused on carbohydrate content and occasionally sodium or fat values, but I can see how this data would be really helpful for other health conditions. There's a list of 999 foods that are pre-programmed into the device, with an option to manually calculate using the food label on an item - like a dollop of cottage cheese or similar. This feature was very helpful for me because I tend to eat a lot of fruits, fresh vegetables, and protein, so I don't have the benefit of an FDA nutrition label on everything I'm chowing.
So the data is helpful. The scale is a little on the bulky side (see the picture for comparison against your average, garden variety office pen - grown fresh here in the dLife garden) and it's also on the pricey side ($75 bucks for this sucker!) but the return on this investment could be worth it. I haven't tooled around with it enough to make a long-term assessment, but my initial feel is "Hey Scale, You're damn useful!"
Do you guys use scales to measure the "unpackaged" food? Or are you more apt to wing it? I'll admit - I wing it more often than I'd like, even though I'm eating a very healthy diet for the most part. Hopefully a scale like this, a more focused determination to carefully account for my carb intake, and more coffee (yay!) will help me fine-tune this chaos.
Now let's see if this booklet has a value for "cheesecake" ... yum...
(Also, Hannah wrote a great post on the old exchange system from ADA - check it out!)
UPDATE: If you want to order your own scale, enter "KerriSentMe" into the coupon field during checkout on the EatSmart website and receive 10% off your order. How's that for cool?