The Carbs&Cals series of books launched 10 years
ago. We catch up founders NHS dietitian Chris
Cheyette and designer/photographer Yello Balolia
to ask how the journey's been and what's coming!
1. How did you meet?
Yello and I met through mutual friends.
At the time he was working as a sound
engineer at ITV and had also just achieved
a 1st class degree in photography.
I was working in Chelmsford as a Diabetes
Specialist Dietitian. As part of my role, I
set up the local BERTIE type 1 education
course. During my teaching sessions on
carb counting I was struck by the fact that
there were no useful visual aids to help
people understand the carbs in the food
they were eating. We were mainly using lists
of foods with the values of carbs per 100g,
along with food models and food labels.
One day I got chatting to Yello about
whether he would be able to help me take
some photos of different portions of foods
that I could use for my teaching sessions.
This led to us making some prototype
booklets, which I tried out in teaching
sessions and got a great response. People
started asking for more examples, so after
careful thought, long discussions and much
planning, Yello and I embarked on the
monumental task of making a full book.
3. Why Carbs AND Cals?
If anyone has the first edition of the book,
you'll remember that it only contained
values for carbs and calories, so Carbs &
Cals seemed like an obvious choice for the
title - does exactly what it says on the tin!
We only included carbs and calories
as it was primarily aimed at people with
type 1 diabetes who were learning to
count carbs and we thought the calories
were useful to include too. Later versions
of the book went on to display more
nutrients, but carb and calorie counting is
still at the core of what we do.
A picture really does paint a thousand
words. A visual approach makes
understanding carb counting and portion
sizes far more accessible. We have
received lots of feedback over the years
about how young people have engaged
with carb counting for the first time due
to our app and book. Photos also help
those who struggle with numeracy or
where there may be a language barrier.
For people who are aiming to lose
weight, the book can be a real eyeopener.
We have had countless reports of
our visual approach helping with portion
control. The photos make it easy to see
which foods may need to be reduced,
and help people choose alternative
options (such as lower calorie snacks)
Without a doubt, the key thing that drives
Chris Cheyette (top)
and Yello Balolia.
2. Where did the idea for
Carbs & Cals come from?
4. You took a very visual
approach to the books, why?