Planning meals can be the bane of a mother’s or father’s existence and if your child has juvenile diabetes it can seem more daunting. You are probably asking yourself: does my child’s diet need to change?
Type 1 Diabetes and Food
As long as your child’s blood sugar readings are kept in normal range, meaning they get the insulin they needs to process the carbohydrates they takes in, they can eat anything.
Blood sugar tests and Food
However, you might need to determine how your child reacts to different foods. We’re all different and we react in different ways to foods and food ingredients.
You might want to substitute foods that cause blood glucose instability with others that have less impact on insulin needs. An example is substituting milk or water for juice or sugary sodas. Other drinks that contain sucralose or agave nectar are also good substitutes.
Snacks like cheese and/or peanut butter and celery are great because they also don’t require as much insulin to cover them.
You may be giving insulin that matches the carb level and your child’s blood sugar spikes anyway. This is because we all metabolize foods at different rates. Using blood sugar test strips to figure out what foods spike or even cause lows is the only way. Recording your child’s blood sugar test strip results in a food chart is a great strategy. Sometimes you need only substitute based on the amount of sweeteners in the brands you usually buy: look for sugar, honey, high fructose and corn syrup in the ingredients list.
However, your child may be able to eat foods with these ingredients in them…it depends on what the other ingredients are in the product and how your child metabolizes them. Similarly certain preservatives, starches and fillers can impact your child blood sugar level. It’s all trial and error.
Don’t eliminate all sugar
But don’t try to eliminate all sugar from your child’s diet. This isn’t a good idea because it is impossible to keep tabs on all your child’s food intake. It’s not emotionally healthy for a child to have mom and dad hovering over every bite. In fact, banishing sugar can backfire. The child hides treats from parents and parents try to second-guess their child. Uncontrolled blood sugar levels result.
Giving your child sugars can actually help to train your child in appropriate sugar consumption. For example, you can teach your child to pair something sugary with protein, like nuts, cheese or meats. Additionally teach your child that treats are for after meals. And be sure that your child with type one diabetes isn’t singled out in the family. Keep your whole family on the same sugar consumption rules. Look for foods made with xylitol, agave nectar, coconut crystals and stevia leaf are all natural sweeteners that are less likely to increase blood sugar levels.
So life goes on…with a few adjustments. So what’s for dinner?