Once you get past the diabetes diagnosis and the needles and the shots and the finger pricks, it's the main thing on your mind:
How and what am I going to feed this child?
Common knowledge tells you that when it comes to diabetes, it's all about the food. And in a way, it is. After all, from here on in, you'll need to count and study every single carbohydrate your child ingests and make a medical decision on how much insulin needs to be matched with that.
That's daunting. But the good news is this: Kids with diabetes can eat almost exactly the same as all children should eat (emphasize should there, good parent). That wasn't always the case. As little as a decade ago, there was no such thing as rapid-acting insulin, and children with diabetes were forced to eat on a meal plan and schedule, eating the exact same amount of carbs at the exact same time, day in and day out, with nary a change in that schedule.
But today, with pumps and rapid-acting insulin and continuous glucose monitors to manage it all, kids with diabetes are free to explore food choices almost the same as all other children. Heading to a birthday party? You can absolutely let him have a slice of that cake (as long as you know his blood glucose-to-carb ratio and then give the insulin for that). Planning a party yourself? You can go the traditional route, or better yet, be creative and make the food at that party more healthy but just as enjoyable, proving to all the guests that healthy can be fun and delicious.
As the following sections show you, it's a good idea to work toward a healthy, balanced diet for your child with diabetes. True, there's no longer a need to deny him most foods. But if you can introduce foods that are special, interesting, and creative and yet still help your child have less of a blood glucose spike, a parent's got to say, “Why not?”
As you'll read, doctors now know that maintaining relatively stable blood sugars is key to a long, healthy life for anyone with diabetes. As a parent, you'll want to balance that with helping your child not feel denied. Teaching him that interesting meals and treats created at home can, in fact, be superior to some foods that are not as good for him will set the standard for his life, a standard that allows him to treat himself right while enjoying true treats. (Any parent who has ever brought sugar-free “jigglers” to a party will tell you: they are usually gobbled up while cupcakes are left behind. Who knew!)
Also because helping to prepare a meal can be pivotal in getting your child to eat it, this handy book calls out recipes your child can help prepare with you. Just look for the icon
Roll up your sleeves, create some new foods, and see if you can't take your family on a new food adventure that's not just good for diabetes, but just plain good for you.