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Precision Carb Counting.

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.

However.

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 Eat Smart scale

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?

Comments

I've often wondered about getting a scale. I know alot of other D-moms use them, but we've always just counted, measured and eyeballed. That scale is super cool looking though. :)

The last time I used a food scale was for a science fair project in 7th grade. I don't remember my parents using one at all when I was little, but we come from the bad school of diabetes also known as Children's Hospital. Now I wing everything, it works about 95% of the time which is good enough for me.
If I used a scale, I think I'd be even more neurotic than I already am. I'd rather have my sanity.

A scale is an absolute must for me. Heck, I even weigh out pre-packaged food so that I get exactly one serving (or however many servings I feel like). I got a cheap one at Target (in yellow!) that I use to calculate ounces (or grams for more accuracy), which I then cross-ref with the food label or with Calorie King.

I don't know if the built-in database is worth it, but I highly recommend getting a scale of some sort.

I use my scale primarily for breakfast cereal - I should use it for more stuff but that's the trickiest one for me usually.

I weigh every thing.

After we realized the discrepancy between a measured cup of Cheerios and the weighed version, we started to use the scale exclusively.

Weighing is more accurate anyway.

We have a mini Salter scale about the size of a calculator that we bring to restaurants.

It's small enough to fit into the back pocket of Brendon's One Touch Ultra meter pack.

I'm a scale user. I use a small basic Salter scale. For any type of produce item, I weigh it on the scale and then type in the weight in grams at calorieking.com. It works really well for things like potatoes and ice cream.

I used to use it for cereal, but I have the same about in the same bowl everyday, so I'm a pretty good guesser.

Thanks for the compliment!

I have been considering a scale lately, especially since my hubby, the engineer, can at times be obsessed with accuracy. Plus, having a digital one would be fun since the only scale I've ever used is the little, dirty white spring-loaded one that's still in my mom's kitchen.

I have a nutri-weigh computer scale, which has a food database, in my kitchen. I don't use it as much now as I did in the past. This is partly out of laziness (especially when it comes to fruit - I tend to treat all apples as equal!) and partly because I already know the carb value for so many of my regular meals. It is particularly useful for recipes though, where you can get the carbs for each ingredient as you go along, and finish up with a total carb count at the end, no guesstimating required!

Started out with a weight-watcher's spring-loaded scale. Too inaccurate. Been using Salton Digital scales for the past five years. Unfortunately, the last couple of jobs had little personal space and no real way to weigh anything purchased on-site or from outside, and I got out of the habit. I need to get back into the "obsessive" side of things to start bringing everything (weight, bg, bp, etc.) back under control...

I told my husband last night that we need to get a scale to measure Riley's food.

I'm tired of counting things one by one. For example, last night I made a lasagna. Well, sort of. I used bowtie pasta in it.

The carb count was 41 g per 1 1/4 cup of dry pasta. Well, Riley doesn't eat it dry. So, I measured out 1 1/4 cup of bowties and counted out each of them and divided by 41. The result: each little bowtie is 1.2 grams a piece.

So, when Riley ate I picked through his plate and counted out the bowties to estimate his carb count. I must have miscounted because he ended up low later.

Yes, I think I need to look into this scale thing.

I recently upgraded from a cheapo analog kitchen scale to a bigger digital one, and LOVE it.

This looks cool since it contains nutritional info on the items you're weighing, but I mostly use the scale for measuring out things like breakfast cereal, chips, etc.

e.g, I have a nasty single-guy habit of just eating doritos out of the bag and looking back and realizing I have no idea how much I ate. If I pre and post-weigh the bag, problem solved! :)

I use an electronic Salter scale, combined with the CK Diet Diary to get accurate carb counts for my meals. It definitely helps! (Although it does take extra time.) And I agree with Shannon regarding accuracy of weights vs. measuring volume--the scale is more accurate for the carb counts. Dietitians tend to give me an odd look when they see that I'm recording things in ounces (or, gasp, grams) instead of cups, but hey, my system works. Maybe it goes without saying, but how do you know how much air space is in a cup of strawberries? It depends on the size of the strawberries, which my handy Salter scale is able to detect--which I why I use it and love it.

The best thing about this scale IMHO is that you can plug in the serving size and the carbs per serving, then throw how much you want to eat on the scale (which may or may not end up being a multiple of the intended serving size). The scale will then give you an accurate carb count.

All with no math in my head (the scale does it all).

This is a unique feature of this scale and makes it well worth the money in my book.

I hate math, and love devices that do it for me.

We bought a digital scale a few weeks after J.J.'s diagnosis. Being in WW's, I've used a cheap spring loaded one forever....but the digital is AWESOME!! I like using gram measurements a lot then going to Calorieking.com. Banana's are always a mystery...how do you measure them things when they are curved?:-)

I'm wondering if you entered the gram amount in calorieking.com if it would match up to what the scale is saying for the carbs? That would make me wonder which is more accurate if they are still off by 5 grams.

Being a "scientist" by nature I'm definitely all for scales!!

I would be lost without a scale. But we use carb factoring which is such a precise method. Plop a banana on the scale and multiple its gram weight by .21 and I know the exact number of grams of carbs in that banana. Same holds true for any food. I would be lost without a scale. But I don't really need a fancy dancy one.

I bought a nutrition scale on QVC for $45. When I placed a plate on it, I could not read the display because the plate covered it. Needless to say I returned it. I like the concept because it is the fastest way to calulate carbs when you're in your kitchen.

I am a big Salter Scale fan! Can't live without it to measure my daughter's food. I had a cheapy, but then Santa bought me this one and I love it! I can just plop a heap of pasta on it and then go to the memory and it will say - PASTA DRY COOKED - 50 Carbs.

I hope you like yours! And it is cooler looking than mine...

I think a scale is one of the easiest ways to accutatly count carbs, I use ours all the time for our 3 year old D kiddo, and I love the salter travel scale I have when we eat out, I dont have to panic about pasta, a fav of Madi's, I just type pasta and put the food on the scale and it tells me all the carb data I need, love it!! I wish more CDE's taught parents carb factors, I learned through the wonderful web.

I use carb factors as well to figure the carb grams in foods. I would be lost withouth the Salter 1450 scale and my track 3 by coheso. I really do not see going back to measuring cups and measuring spoons. A digital scale that weighs in grams is so much easier.

Great post! Just wanted to let you know you have a new subscriber- me!

If you don't already, you should subtract your fibre from your carbohydrates. That's the first thing my dietician taught me. It's something to do with the fibre cancelling out the carbs. I'm sure you could find something online about it. But who am I to be telling you anything, I'm sure you already knew about this, 23 years under your belt and all. I only have 2. :P

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