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What should I consider when making my child's diabetes meal plan?

Children with diabetes need to follow a holistic treatment plan, which includes insulin injections, blood glucose monitoring, exercise and a proper meal plan.

The most widely used form of meal planning for children with diabetes is carbohydrate counting. It is the most accurate way to match food and insulin. Most children with diabetes have to count the amount of carbohydrates in their school meals. It is helpful for the child to have school menus and to have nutrition information for foods served at school.

Some children with diabetes need a regular midmorning and mid-afternoon snack so their blood glucose level doesn’t drop too low. They may need an extra snack if the class is going to have a strenuous field trip or field day. This will keep the glucose levels from dropping too low because of extra physical activity.
Laura Motosko, MSEd, RD
Nutrition & Dietetics

Consider your child’s preferences, nutrient needs and the carbohydrate content of food when offering a meal plan to a child. A Registered Dietitian can prescribe nutrient and carbohydrate needs that promote healthy growth, development and blood glucose levels.

Foods contain a combination of 3 macronutrients fat, carbohydrate and protein of which all are eventually broken down into glucose to affect blood glucose levels. Strive for healthy blood glucose levels by including healthy fats, protein and carbohydrate at every meal and snack. Carbohydrate affects blood glucose directly and must be planned and monitored. High carbohydrate nutrient dense food to include are legumes, beans, soy or dairy, whole grains, and fruits at meals. Food low in carbohydrate are vegetables, healthy fats such as olive oil, and proteins including lean meat, and nuts. 

Jim White
Nutrition & Dietetics
When making your childs diabetes meal plan you should consider their the activities they will be engaging in throughout the day. Consider their doses of insulin and whether or not they will be engaging in vigorous exercise such as playing sports or running around for longer than 15-20 minutes.
Marilyn Tanner-Blasiar
Nutrition & Dietetics

A registered dietitian will tailor a plan for your child as well as help your child learn about diabetes and the balance between food, physical activity, and medication. Depending on your child’s age it is important that they are getting enough calories for proper growth and development. As your child grows, if they seem to be getting hungry all the time, or if they are too full and can’t eat everything in the meal plan follow up with the dietitian for adjustments in their meal plan. 

To find a registered dietitian to help with your child’s diabetes meal plan go to www.eatright.org.   

You will also want to meet with a dietitian and work out an eating plan. Make sure to take into consideration your child’s likes and dislikes, how your family usually eats, any cultural or religious influences, how to include treats, and how to handle special events.

Tips for Meal Planning
  • You will help your child and your family if you all eat the same foods.
  • Don’t prepare one dish for the rest of the family and a special meal for your child with diabetes.
  • Make sure to involve your child in the meal planning, and ask him what foods he would like to include in his eating plan.

    Also talk to your child’s teachers and school officials or day care providers about any special needs your child has. Once you and your child figure out the daily routine and work out ways to deal with special events and circumstances, you will both feel better about living with diabetes.

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    Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.