Counting carbs is hard enough when you’re eating at home—but when you’re eating on the fly or enjoying a nice dinner out it can get even trickier. With the way restaurant plates and serving sizes vary, you could be tempted to eat far more carbohydrate than you need. This guide will help you count the carbs at your next meal out on the town.
Uncover hidden carbs. High blood sugar after Chinese, Thai or sushi? Demystify what could be the culprit in your favorite menu items by looking at recipes for the dish (in books or online) and their nutrient counts. You'll discover that sugars and starches can be lurking in marinades, sauces and other ingredients.
Become a food sleuth. Mary Ellen Wolf, C.D.E., shares this trick that her husband, who has diabetes, uses when he eats out. In sit-down restaurants where portions are unpredictable, he starts counting carbs before he even reaches his table. As he waits to be seated or as he is escorted to his table, he looks at plated meals served to other guests. He notices the portions and types of foods available. He then makes mental notes of what to order or what to split with his dining companion.
Avoid pizza perils. Whether ordering it in or eating it in a restaurant, pizza is a carb-counting challenge, from the crust to the sauce. The good news is there are plenty of carb counts for pizza to gauge your estimates, from frozen (look on the box) to chain restaurants (look them up online). But before taking your first bite, check the width of the slice you're about to eat, as well as the thickness of the crust and sauce.
Count carbohydrates on the go. Thumbing through a thick book to get carb counts on the road is a thing of the past. Now an endless supply of websites and smart-phone apps is at your fingertips. Before you buy, research your options and remember that the depth of the database isn't always the most important aspect. Opt for ease. "Many apps require a lot of manual data input and can be burdensome to use," says Amy Tenderich, a blogger at diabetesmine.org. "But it's worth it if you're passionate about improving your carb-counting accuracy."
Keep your hands handy. With your hands, you always have a set of measuring tools by your side. While not exact, [the following] approximations are better than a wild guess, says Mary Ellen Wolf, C.D.E., whose husband has diabetes.
fist = 1 cup
palm of hand = 3 ounces
fingertip = 1 teaspoon
tip of thumb = 1 tablespoon