I went to a type1 Diabetes (T1D) symposium two nights ago and there was a topic on type 1 diabetes: the creative, adventurous and active life. Diabetes and food go hand and hand and I should know this since being diagnosed with type-1 diabetes over two years ago. I pay attention to what I eat. Taking it further, I teach healthy diabetic cooking class at the hospital, at my cooking school and provide education and awareness about diabetes and advocacy for the South Asian Diabetes Chapter of the Canadian Diabetes Association. I put my brain and my thinking where my mouth is so to speak and conscious of what I eat all the time, it’s a 24/7 numbers game since it affects my blood sugar and my well being.
Most people with diabetes (type1 or type2) have to think about their carbohydrate intake to balance their blood sugar level. People with T1D diabetes have to count the carbohydrates to consume in order to take insulin. I won’t go into too much detail and save it for another post, but you really have to get good at counting the total carbohydrates of what you eat, most of the times eyeballing an estimate (you do get good at it) so you can take the proper insulin dosage.
It’s an art, it’s science and its critical and its survival. I have been counting carbs since I started my insulin regiment over two years ago. The hardest part is not knowing new food items, choices are millions. Especially when the item is freshly cooked or it doesn’t have the nutritional value label on it.
For example, take the simple warm soft pretzel with sprinkles of sea salt on them – they sell them at many events these days, New York streets (it brings back memories) – how harmful can it be?
Well at the talk, one of the doctors talked about carb intake and asked us to guess carb amount for few items. Every T1D person knows a slice of bread (white or brown) is approximately 15g of carb, its the fibre that makes the glycemic load (absorption different), that’s another post in the future. Next item was a soft pretzel and asked people to guess. People guessed 30g, 40g even 60g. The innocent looking soft pretzel that I loved eating with mustard in balls parks, New York streets and on my last visit to Germany for a snack… I couldn’t even guess. They are harmless looking – soft, light and I thought it could be as much as a half bagel which is about whopping 35g of carb (this is why I can’t eat a bagel). I can have two slices of bread and be still under half a bagel’s carb rate due to fibre.
Well the good doctor said the soft pretzel was 200g of carbohydrate. The audience jaws just dropped. I could easily eat two of them for a snack and it’s one of the national snacks in Germany. Everybody eats them and they are great.
I went home heavy hearted and sad. I go to Germany at least once a year and for me not to be tempted for a snack, how can this be? Sure I can take insulin for 200g of carbs, but it’s like blowing all your carb in one item for the whole day (more or less). I didn’t sleep well – I kept tossing and turning and pondering about “to pretzel or not to pretzel”, the question kept plaguing me all night.
Well the next morning I was tired but I did some research and was happy to find that the good doctor didn’t do his research well or he just wanted us to be aware of the high carb snack with slight exaggeration. I still can’t eat it everyday but it can be done.
One soft pretzel is approximately about (143g in weigh approx.) and 99g of carbohydrate, 483 calories and 2008mg of sodium (one full day’s worth of salt supply almost) *facts provided by Nutrition data
I haveT1D and have strong insulin resistance. Most people take 1 unit of Insulin for 15g of carb, but I will still need 11 units of rapid insulin to battle this soft tasty pretzel, so I guess Pizza, Bagel and now soft Pretzel are off my list and only allowed for special occasions when I feel like taking 12 units of insulin before consuming it.
Some interesting facts to think about before eating this tasty soft pretzel for people with diabetes or not:
Exercise required (Based on a 35 year old female that’s 5.74′ ft. tall and weighs 144 lbs.) * facts provided by Calorieking.com
To burn the calories of this soft tasty pretzel you could do any of the following:
94 minutes of walking OR 39 minutes of jogging OR 28 minutes of swimming OR 52 minutes of cycling
At the end of the day, I am relieved that the soft pretzel is not 200g of carb but 99g of carb – but I am still not convinced to take 12 units of rapid insulin but will reach for a cookie instead (mare 15g of carb) and save the soft pretzel for my next trip to Germany or New York instead.