If you’re trying to find a way to put together healthy lunchboxes and snacks that still taste great, check out these great tips about carb counting for kids from Novo Nordisk:
Low GI foods for balanced blood sugar
Keeping tabs on children of any age can be a challenge, but keeping tabs on a child living with diabetes adds on to that challenge. One of the top priorities for parents of children with diabetes is to manage the condition from an early age, so that their children can lead normal, healthy lives. The treatment regime includes making sure they have a healthy diet based on foods with a low GI (Glycaemic Index); foods that digest slowly and therefore don’t play havoc with the body’s blood glucose levels. This can be enough of a challenge at home, but what about the times when children are out of the home – at school, parties or sports events? Here are some suggestions on how to master carb counting for kids.
Carb counting for lunchboxes
The trick is to make carb counting for lunchboxes and snacks easy, so that it becomes a simple routine rather than a complicated chore. But counting carbs, as anyone who’s been on a carbohydrate-restricted diet will know, can be difficult – and frustrating. And who has time in the mornings to figure out whether the lunchbox they’re preparing is ‘carb-safe’ for their child?
Luckily, there are some easy techniques to use when carb counting for kids, and these can be really useful for busy Moms and Dads.
Keep a carb counting list handy
“The first thing is to download a list of the foods that are high in carbohydrates and to paste this onto the door of the fridge as an easy go-to reminder,” says Shelley Harris, Public Relations Manager of Novo Nordisk (SA), local division of the world’s leading diabetes healthcare company. These include fruits and starchy vegetables like potatoes and corn; foods made from refined grains like bread, crackers and pasta; and sugar or foods sweetened with sugar.
“Do this with a column next to each item to record the carbohydrate count, so that you don’t have to do it from scratch every day,” says Harris.
“If you’re packing in something like low-fat sweetened yoghurt, for instance, it’s easy to check the total carbohydrate content on the label, which includes the measure of both sugars and starches. Do that and then write it down on your checklist for easy reference.”
Average carb counts
Another technique is to allocate average carbohydrate counts to common foods like bread and apples.
“An apple, a slice of bread or a cup of skim milk all contain around 15g of carbohydrates, so it’s easy to do quick calculations based on what the American Dietetic Association refers to as ‘food exchange groups’. The term means that foods with a standardised carb count are interchangeable, and that the total carb content of a lunchbox can be quickly calculated in this way.
For children on insulin, this methodology makes it easy for parents to calculate the insulin-to-carbohydrate ratio that determines the amount of insulin they need to take before each meal, making allowances for variables like levels of activity and individual responses to certain foods.
With over 6.5 million South Africans living with diabetes, and with approximately 45% of all new cases of Type 2 diabetes being diagnosed in children, as stated by the IDF the Diabetes Atlas and the American Diabetes Association, easy-to-use, time-saving methods like these can be invaluable to parents.
The other side of the coin, of course, is to make lunches and snacks interesting by varying the contents from day to day, and by focusing on foods that kids enjoy. A nutritious and satisfying lunch could, for instance, include a sandwich made from whole grain bread, a portion of fresh fruit, a few veggie sticks and some low-fat milk or bottled water.”
“Carb counting for children with diabetes needn’t be difficult,” concludes Harris, “and lunches don’t have to be boring. All it takes to put together a healthy, appetising lunchbox every day is a bit of forward planning and a good dose of imagination. And voila! A healthy, happy child – every day.”