Ellie’s story: Home cooking for a healthy family

22nd February 2017
mother and teenage son

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.

Susan’s story: Cutting out the carb calculations

18th January 2017

Susan has had type 1 diabetes for 45 years, and was diagnosed as having Coeliac Disease and an overactive thyroid 8 years ago. But this wasn’t to be the last of her health issues. A keen cook who values healthy eating and nutrition, Susan discovered Cook&Count app while searching for an easier way to carb count when home cooking. She shares her story with us…

All was good until 2010 when I detected a breast lump which turned out to be cancerous. I’m glad to say, because I found the lump early, I’m alive and kicking!

As a result of my various health conditions, healthy eating and nutrition is really important to me. I try to avoid processed foods as much as possible. Though of course there are times when I’m in a hurry or have a low blood sugar when I tend to grab whatever I can.

I try as much as possible to make my own gluten free soup, bread, cookies and cakes with reduced sugar. When I make my own products I know exactly what goes into them, especially ingredients like sugar, salt and fat. I keep only gluten free flour and baking powder in the cupboard so I can’t ever get mixed up with normal flours.

The problem: Too many calculations!

Knowing the nutritional values of food was always important being a type 1 diabetic, but now more than ever as I’m on multiple daily insulin injections. It is imperative to know how many carbohydrates are in everything I eat before I inject. If I underestimate the carbs in a food, and so don’t inject enough insulin, it can lead to elevated blood glucose. While if I overestimate I can inject too much insulin, causing low blood glucose levels. I have often miscalculated in the past – there was a lot of guess work and sometimes I’d cook the same meals as I’d know how I was going to react.

I find it so annoying that many companies give nutritional values per 100 grams rather than per portion. Diabetics have to do constant calculations – see what blood glucose is, try and assess carbs in meals they’re about to eat, and then decide how much insulin to give. Other factors like alcohol, exercise and illness may need to be factored in too!

The solution: Save your sum-free recipes

In desperation I went to Google to see what I could find on counting carbs. There was loads of stuff on calorie counting but that was of no use to me. I often said to my husband you nearly need to be a diabetic to understand all the calculations that need to be done. I came across Cook&Count app, read some reviews, saw that Deborah is the parent of a Diabetic son and was sold!

The app makes life so much easier, especially for home baking. Many gluten free recipes have a lot of ingredients, but once you get into the hang of how the app works it’s a great resource. Some ingredients aren’t on the database but you can easily insert them in yourself. I love the fact that I can keep my usual recipes or even my favourite breakfast cereals saved there. It’s so great to type in the weight of the food you want to eat, which might not be the standard weight, and not have to do the sums!

I’ve been using Cook&Count app for a year now and overall I can honestly say it was a great find for me.

Try out Cook&Count app for free for yourself from the App Store or Google Play.