Ellie’s story: Home cooking for a healthy family22nd February 2017
A working mum with two sons – including 13 year old Luke who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes aged 10 – Ellie tells us how relaxing in the kitchen (and using Cook&Count app!) helps her to feed her family…
Healthy eating and home cooking
Healthy eating was important before Luke’s diagnosis anyway – we’ve always cooked healthily and had a healthy balanced diet. We’ve never been into any kind of fad diets at all, but when you have type 1 it is partly about making sure you can carb count accurately. We aim for a low fat, healthy, balanced diet, and the way to get that is home cooked food.
Part of why I enjoy home cooking is relaxation. I’ve always enjoyed cooking but I work so I don’t have time to cook every night. I usually just potter around in the kitchen on my day off and make a batch of food for the week. I enjoy cooking for appreciative hungry boys – they’re very easy to feed! It can get a bit tedious doing the same day in day out, so I like to mix it up a bit.
The importance of accurate carb counting (and the benefits of calorie awareness)
The reason I’m interested in knowing the nutritional content of my food is predominantly for carb counting. Even if you look at recipe books that have the carb content per portion, I’ve noticed they can be way off, or not include the portion of rice that it comes on the side. The information out there can be quite misleading, so actually doing it yourself is the best way to guarantee that you’re getting the carbs right. If you get it wrong when you’re matching it with insulin, you risk having your blood sugar shooting up or plummeting down. I was quite shocked when Luke was first diagnosed that his dietitian said that he needs to be within 10 grams of carbs of accuracy in what he’s counting. It sounds dramatic, but it is important.
I don’t diet at all and I don’t do fad diets, but I have to say that when I want to lose a bit of weight the only way that I think works is doing a calorie counted diet. So I’ve been using the calorie content as well which is an added bonus! One other thing that is important on the nutritional content is fat. It’s good to have an awareness of whether your food is particularly fatty.
Making life easier
I couldn’t believe the irony of Luke being diagnosed as my maths is really not strong. I had all these scribbles – ratios worked out on the backs of envelopes in the kitchen, and I would go through packets of rice and packets of sugar, working out whole recipes by hand on a calculator. This wasn’t particularly time efficient, but then I’d write them all down for future reference. It’s much easier to have it calculated for you.
I discovered Cook&Count app on Twitter. It was quite early days and Luke had only just been diagnosed. Cook&Count app is helpful if I’m doing a new recipe from scratch to work out the carbs. I recently went through a period of thinking I had it all sorted – I’ve got all my usual recipes off the top of my head now – but he’s growing all the time. When you’ve got a teenager with type 1, they suddenly start eating more and the portion is one and a half times the size. It’s being able to adapt the sizes that’s really useful. You think you can carb count in advance, but then actually you might want seconds and a bit more pudding, so it just gives you that flexibility.
It’s all about portion sizes
The most important thing for me is the ability to carb count based on weight and portion sizes. Sometimes you’re not going to be near scales, so you can just judge it by portion size and divide it up – that’s really helpful. I haven’t seen anything like it. I know other health and fitness apps have carb counting, but it tends to be more about takeaway and restaurant food rather than actually being able to create your own food at home.
The only thing to improve Cook&Count app for me would be to be able to use it online on my laptop – I think that would be useful!
Try out Cook&Count app for free for yourself from the App Store or Google Play.