Your Child’s Diet
The child’s diabetes care team for your child should include a dietitian who is familiar with the needs of children. There will be an assessment of your child's diet if the family diet needs to be adapted for diabetes.
Any changes may involve the rest of the family, but there is no reason why there should be any issues with this as a healthy diet that is high in complex (starchy) carbohydrates and fibre will benefit the whole family.
It is certainly not necessary to buy special foods that are labelled ‘diabetic’. Nor do foods containing sugar have to be completely avoided – they may be eaten as part of a balanced diet that is low-sugar not no-sugar.
In fact, it may be better that sugary foods (such as sweets, cakes and chocolate) are eaten as part of a meal, as your child will be taking insulin then anyway – although you may need to increase the dose. Sweets or chocolate eaten as snacks outside of mealtimes should usually be taken with extra insulin.
Your child should always have a rapid-acting high sugar food or drink with them in case of hypos – such as some jelly beans or small carton of fruit juice to take first and then a slower release carbohydrate such as a cereal bar for afterwards to help stabilise their blood glucose levels. This is particularly important when they are taking part in physical activity or sport. If they are at school, it is important to let teachers know that your child may need to eat a snack during class to prevent a hypo.
Why not use regular testing to see how your child's favourite meals affect his or her blood glucose? If they make it rise quickly, consider how you could lower the GI* to slow absorption down.
Mealtimes aren't always predictable, especially for children. Blood glucose testing can help you decide how long it is safe to wait before he or she should eat or whether a snack is needed to keep sugar levels reasonable.
Parties and meals out
Your child should test/be tested when eating unfamiliar foods to see whether the insulin dose needs to be adjusted.
If your child needs to lose weight then he or she may become at risk of hypos through eating less. If weight loss is necessary, then you should discuss this with the staff at your clinic, in order to plan how testing can help to balance a smaller food intake with the insulin dose.