Today's Diabetes Blog Week prompt is on Fantasy Diabetes Devices — which is just up our alley, all course! We're all in search of the "Holy Grail" tool for diabetes care, whether that's a dream blood glucose checker, a lancer you don't feel at all, or a super-charged insulin delivery system...
For me personally, the fantasy device at the top of my wish list would help me better handle the one thing that's most difficult for me: carb-counting!
I hate carb counting. I constantly underestimate what I'm actually eating. Mostly, I think, because I don't want to admit what I'm actually eating. I'm in denial. So when I go out to eat (which is too often, I do admit) and my entree arrives, I often think, "Well, that pile of mashed potatoes couldn't be more than 50 carbs." Or the three slices of bread? Definitely not more than 20 carbs. And the steak or pork doused in marinades and sauces? Completely carb-free, of course!
Eating at home is no picnic, either. I'm convinced that food producers make it impossible to figure out serving sizes simply so you won't even bother trying and you'll just eat as much as you please. For instance: 2/3 cup dry rice or pasta is 46 carbs, which makes about 1.0 cups prepared, but there's 2.5 servings for two people.
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Listen, I'm a writer, not a mathematician. Clearly, I was diagnosed with the wrong illness because I'm just not cut out for all these numbers. Not only that, but even if you did know exactly how many carbs you're eating, the food doesn't always work the same way in your body. Carbohydrates in cereal hit me much faster than the same amount of carbs in a sandwich, for example. And I can handle the carbs in some fruits better than others.
What's a PWD to do?!
Over the past four years, we've seen a ton of amazing ideas and suggestions for dream devices in our DiabetesMine Design Challenge, but I've never submitted my own idea (I helped behind the scenes, so that was a no-no). So I'm so excited to share with you my idea for a totally brilliant carb-counting app: The Magic Carbonator 5000!!
This carb-counting app is made for both the iPhone and the Android (gotta share the love). It's designed so that people with diabetes take a picture of whatever they're eating, whether an individual item or an entire plate a food, and then the app tells you not only how many carbs you're eating, but exactly how much insulin you need to take based on your insulin-to-carb ratio. The app takes into account the amount of fat, protein, and Glycemic Index value of your food, so the dose you receive is always correct. No matter what you're eating or where it's from (your own kitchen or the food truck down the street), the The Magic Carbonator 5000 just knows!
My main issue with carb-counting is that it's such a crap shoot. When I go out to eat or if I'm at a party, or heck, even cooking a recipe out of a cookbook, you never really know how many carbs you're eating. Sure, one dinner roll from Trader Joe's might be 26 carbs, and so it's easy to think that a roll of a similar size and weight at a Restaurant X is also 26 carbs. But is it? How do you really know?
Another problem the Magic Carbonator 5000 would solve: half-eaten meals. How many of you have dealt with a picky child or perhaps your own "eyes bigger than stomach" conundrum that left you with half a plate of uneaten food? The app could photograph the remaining food and tell you exactly how many carbs are left in that half sandwich or bruised banana! Perfect!
Of course, the easy answer would be: just don't eat carbs. Ever. But really? For me, it is not realistic that I would go my entire life without eating any carbs. That's why the Magic Carbonator 5000 would be awesome! (Hey, this is a fantasy post, right?)
There already are some apps out there that propose to give you nutritional information via photos of your food, but they don't focus on precision carb-counting (the kind required for insulin dosing) and you still have to make adjustments for fat, protein, and the Glycemic Index, which are all things that affect your blood sugars. They also don't calculate doses based on your personal insulin:carb ratio, which my new app would do.
While I realize the odds of the Magic Carbonator 5000 ever being created are pretty slim, there is one thing those of us who fantasize about diabetes dream devices can do to make our ideas a reality: participate in the DiabetesMine Patient Voices Contest!
The whole idea of this contest is to give PWDs in different walks of life the opportunity to tell the Powers That Be — folks like Pharma R&D and marketing executives, human interaction designers, entrepreneurs, physicians, regulatory experts, investors, health gaming developers, technology gurus and experts in mobile health platforms — what YOU want from your diabetes devices.
We have seen many advancements in diabetes products over the last few years, like the new iBGStar (which is one of our Grand Prizes!), come to fruition because patients got vocal about their needs and demands!
What you say DOES make a difference, so after you finish up today's blog prompt, head on over to the DiabetesMine Patient Voices Contest page to find out how you can get that idea in front of people who can take it and run with it!