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When my seven-year-old son, Danny, was diagnosed with type 1diabetes, I had to take a serious look at his diet. He had always been our “picky” eater, and I had gone along with his demands to keep the peace. As a result, his favorite foods at the time of his diagnosis were pancakes with syrup, grilled cheese sandwiches, macaroni and cheese, cookies, juice, and the only vegetable he ate—cucumbers. These foods became the centerpiece of the meal plan constructed by the hospital nutritionist.
After months of roller coaster blood sugars, I realized that most of his highs and subsequent lows followed meals containing white flour, white sugar, or anything fried. I wanted to help him change his diet, but knew I couldn’t do it without the help of the whole family. One night, in a family meeting around the dinner table, I told my husband, daughter, and son that we all needed to change the way we were eating. Danny’s blood sugars were showing us that some foods were definitely better for us than others.
That was the first of many steps I took to change our diet and help Danny improve his blood sugar control. It was a bumpy road, filled with protests, but by the end of the first year, after incorporating more whole grain and low-carbohydrate foods into our meals, we were all healthier, stronger, and thinner. Danny’s A1c’s had stabilized at under seven percent, down from over eight percent (a number that the ADA suggests may lead to later complications).
Below are suggestions for helping your family make the same transition smoothly. As in all things, persistence usually wins out just as you are about to give up.
These tips are drawn from the book, “The Challenge of Childhood Diabetes: Family Strategies for Raising a Healthy Child”, by Laura Plunkett and Linda Weltner, written to help parents support their child’s overall health and well-being. For additional strategies and information, go to www.challengeofdiabetes.com.
Diabetes Health is the essential resource for people living with diabetes- both newly diagnosed and experienced as well as the professionals who care for them. We provide balanced expert news and information on living healthfully with diabetes. Each issue includes cutting-edge editorial coverage of new products, research, treatment options, and meaningful lifestyle issues.