Diet and Diabetes
Diabetes management and meal-planning for children
It is important to learn about proper meal-planning when your child has diabetes. The type and amount of food your child eats affects his or her blood sugar levels. If your child eats too much, his or her blood sugar may go up too high. Also, if your child skips meals, his or her blood sugar may go too low. Good blood sugar control requires a balance of food, exercise, and medication. Healthy meals include foods that contain carbohydrates, protein, and fat.
What are carbohydrates?
Carbohydrates are an important source of energy for children. Carbohydrates in foods affect the body's blood sugar the most. The body turns carbohydrates into blood sugar. If your child eats too many foods with carbohydrates, then his or her blood sugar can go too high. A dietitian can help you decide how much carbohydrate your child needs each day. About half the calories your child eats should come from carbohydrates. Carbohydrate foods should be included with each meal and snack. Sources of carbohydrates include the following:
Breads, crackers, and cereals
Pasta, rice, and grains
Milk and milk products
Fruit and fruit juice
Sugar, honey, jelly, and syrup
Your child can eat limited sweets and sugars if they are counted as part of the daily carbohydrate intake. Sweets and sugar do not have many vitamins or minerals, so they should be eaten in small amounts.
Are proteins and fats important?
Protein and fat do not affect the body's blood sugar level as much as carbohydrates. However, the amount of protein and fat in your child's diet may need to be counted as it is important for your child to eat the appropriate amount of protein and fat. Too much fat can increase your child's risk for heart disease and may make it difficult for your child to maintain a healthy weight. Your child's dietitian can help you decide how much protein and fat your child needs. Additionally, some fats are good for you, and some are more unhealthy. A dietician can help you determine which fats are better for your child and which ones to avoid.
Sources of protein include:
Beef, pork, and lamb
Fish and seafood
Chicken and turkey
Nuts and seeds
Sources of fat include:
Butter and margarine
Oils and shortening
Sour cream and cream cheese
Bacon and other cured meats
Beef, pork, and poultry without the skin removed
Ice cream, cheese, and other high fat dairy products
There are also foods that have carbohydrate, protein, and fat. These foods can affect your child's blood sugar similar to other foods with carbohydrates:
Stew and soups
Milk and yogurt
A dietitian can help you develop the meal plan that works best for your child.