Carb Counting with Lenny
Parsing scholarly articles are very stimulating to my academic self I enjoy reviewing scientific literature to make it understandable to myself as well as to my patients (and readers). My diabetes team also reviews articles in journal clubs and conferences for us to be kept up-to-date and learn new technology as well as latest therapeutic treatments and ideas. (If we donot keep up with all the information out there, our patients and families will often do so for us!)
Once again, Ann Bartlett, knowing that as a pediatric specialist I am most happy to play games, directed me to the iTunes__Ã“ store to check out and download a cool application on my ipad. Always willing to experiment with my ipad, I downloaded “Carb Counting with LennyÃ“”, an application developed by the Medtronic Corporation and began playingwith it. According to Medtronic, Lenny the Lion is an ambassador for children’s diabetes education. He apparently was diagnosed with diabetes when he was a cub and is currently on an insulin pump (Medtronic Minimed Revel, no doubt). Lenny explains that it is very important to count carbs to maintain healthy glucose levels. Although this application is marketed for young children, I really got into “Lenny’s Food Guide,” which shows pictures of the different food groups with the amount of carbs.
Pictures of the food also are displayed to denote the size of the portions as well as the content. For example, a banana is not always just a banana_._ It is important to acknowledge that there are small, medium, and large bananas with different carb amounts accordingly! He breaks the food guide into starches, fruits/vegetables, dairy, meats, fats, etc., and pictures (relatively accurate) are portrayed. For example, animal crackers- eight crackers are displayed amounting to 15 grams of carbs, etc. You also can add a food item if it is pictured in your photo albums somewhere (unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures of foods in my ipad, or else I would have tried). You can scroll through all the food groups and actually memorize the carb list.
The next step was to play all the Carb games, which I did! Very addictive, and timed! The pressure was on to play four games:
- “Carb or No Carb,” where the player has to indicate if the food item displayed has carbs or not…very quickly or you get dinged.
- “Compare the Carbs,” where you have decide which item has more carbs, such as a small apple (15 grams) versus a hamburger with a bun (30 grams). You have less than 10 seconds to figure it and points are tallied.
- “Guess the Carbs,” where a food item with a serving size is demonstrated and you have 6 seconds to choose between three options with different carb amounts. (Note: after doing these games several times, the time to decide seems to get less and less.). Different food items are tossed at you and you have to respond very quickly.
- “Build a meal!” is where the payoff game is an actual picture of a refrigerator with food items that you can choose to hit your target carb count. You can drag up to four items from the refrigerator to the meal area and build your meal. If you highlight the food item it will show the serving size, but not the carbohydrate amount. You drag the items hoping to total the target carb amount. If you are close, you get a nice confirmatory sound and add points to your running total; if not, you get a ding. Like most people, I don’t like to get dinged so I kept playing (with less and less allotted seconds to decide, or else you get timed out) until I was doing very well with my carb allowance. Of course, the meals were not particularly balanced. Oh well.
Apparently, there are “Lenny contests and cool prizes,” but you have to leave the App and go to your browser to find out more information.
We all know our kids and teens are fascinated with these applications and are glued to smart phones, ipads, and computers! Why not have them practice with an educational carb counting program and actually acquire practical, useful information?
Fran Cogen, M.D., C.D.E., is the director of the Childhood and Adolescent Diabetes Program at Children’s National Health System. She wrote about diabetes for HealthCentral.