My dates are trying to kill me – by Helen May

helen-may-1114-150x150Eleven-and-a-half years after being diagnosed with Type 1, I am going to my first carb counting course. Locally, we don’t call it DAFNE, we call it Freedom for Life. I think the main difference is that it is run weekly for four or five weeks, rather than consecutive days.

I have been counting carbs for many years but only based on a throw away comment on one of my annual reviews. Through my own research, I have been approximating carb counts and, most of the time, doing ok. But, I have missed out on subtleties such as carbs in vegetables. Being vegaquarian (mostly vegetarian with a bit of fish), I am probably closer to having ‘five a day’ than the average guy on the street and, often, eat just a plate of vegetables.

They may be stir fried with some soy sauce, they may be roasted with some feta sprinkled over. They are never just boiled. So the cumulative affect of the small amount of carbs in each carrot, pea or mushroom starts to add up. Until the course, I have just taken a couple of units of insulin because it seems to work, but I have never counted the carbs.

Enthused by the course (and conscious I will be walking through my food and insulin diary with the class in my next lesson), I have started to be more scientific. When I am at home, I have been weighing my fruit each morning and googling “carbs in apple/orange/banana/plum”. At first I tried the number for a small, medium, large apple/orange/banana/plum. However, I couldn’t decide what size is a medium apple/orange/banana/plum and, with a set of scales nearby, I could be more accurate if I weighed them.

This has worked well until this week. Most of my fruit and vegetables come in my weekly veg box. So I often get surprises and “something different”. This week, I have dates in my box. They are deliciously sweet and yummy. Except, I think they are trying to kill me.

On the first day, I had two dates with my breakfast and googled “number of carbs in a date.” The answer was 18g carbohydrates in an average date. Wow. I knew they were sweet but this surprised me. So I held back and only counted 20 of the 36g. The result was ok.

The next day, I thought perhaps I had small dates so weighed them and calculated 31g of carbohydrates in my two dates. I decided to go for it and dialled up 3 units of insulin. But kept an eye on my blood glucose with regular finger pricks. After two hours, my blood glucose was down to 3.3. Knowing that was rubbish, I dosed up on dextrose and carried on working. At least, I tried to work but I couldn’t concentrate. So 15 minutes later took another reading and found out, despite the dextrose, I was now down to 1.9. More dextrose, a fruit bar and I started to feel normal.

What is it with these dates? I started to wonder whether the problem was that I was weighing the stones. So, I took a stone from which I had sucked off all the yummy date flesh and tried to weigh it. It was so light that it didn’t register on the scales. On to the next theory: I remembered from my course that the carbs include fibre which is not digested. Surprise surprise. Nearly one third of the carbs in my dates are fibre. in other words, of the 31g of carbs in my two dates, I should only count 21g.

These pesky dates. They tempt me with their yummy sweetness and then, wham, try to kill me by disguising their indigestible fibre with delicious sugar.

This carb counting is not as easy as it looks. But now I am on to these sneaky fruit, I will be alert when I weigh the next mango.


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