One of the questions we get asked all the time is how to treat kids with diabetes… After all, the usual going out for a milkshake doesn’t really apply!
In issue 10 of Sweet Life magazine we gave some great ideas for treating your diabetic child. Here are some more, from diabetes educator Fiona Prins:
- Youth with diabetes are constantly told by family and friends: “You shouldn’t be having that!” or “Are you allowed that?” or worse still…..”So you are cheating again?”
- None of these comments reflects on the true management of Type 1 diabetes in young people. Children with diabetes need to follow a reasonably healthy diet and as with all children TREATS are part of normal life. A different word to cheats inferring the consumption of something wrong. I prefer to encourage children to understand the impact of all foods on their glucose levels and this can only be achieved with eating them and testing the result on their blood glucose levels. This can be done in a few ways:
1. Enjoy a sweet or biscuit or any treat on its own and test pre and 2 hours post and assess the impact.
2. Read the labels of these products and assess or learn what the carbohydrate content is to make an estimate of the required insulin needed for this. The child needs to learn that these treats often come at the cost of an additional dose of insulin. This process is not negotiable and should be done in a gentle and encouraging way and not a negative or threatening negotiation.
3. Treats can be used to treat hypoglycaemic events but the downside of this is the possibility of self induced hypos to be allowed a much sought-after treat.
- Any of the above require careful recording and the resulting understanding of various food groups and whether this is protein, carbohydrate, dairy or fat. The learning is always the same: how does this impact on my control and how can the insulin be adjusted to keep the levels as close to target as possible?
- We assume also that a child with diabetes desires the same spoils as those with out diabetes but with a lot of discussion I have come to learn that a favorite meal or a non food related spoil is often welcomed too. Especially as this may not always impact on the treatments. One of my young girls I look after loves a trip to the podiatrist and have a pedicure. Not only does this encourage good foot care but makes her feel treasured and special and in her own words “beats a chocolate hands down”.
- Over the years that I have been involved in diabetes management one of the fundamentals I have learnt is that children cope better than we actually give them credit for. Giving them choices and an understanding of the results enables them to cope on their own or with friends in a much more advanced way.
Thanks so much for your wise words, Fiona!