World Diabetes Day: Deal with juvenile diabetes with a balanced diet

Family doctor showing human anatomy illustration to small baby.

Kids who have diabetes don’t need to be on strict diets, but they do need to pay attention to when they eat and what’s on their plate. There’s really no such thing as a diabetic meal plan. That’s why you should focus on balanced nutrition. Here are more tips to deal with type I diabetes.

Your child’s daily diet should consist of three main meals and one to three. The goal is to give your child a consistent amount of carbohydrates at the same time each day. This makes it easier to figure out the right insulin dose. It’s important that the amount of food satisfies your child’s hunger and gives enough nutrients for proper growth. Consistency is the key to keep blood glucose in control for children with type I diabetes. However, any meal plan must be flexible and realistic. It must take into account your child’s lifestyle, likes, and dislikes. Do you think you can reverse type I diabetes? Read this.

Where do parents go wrong?

Children have a love-hate relationship with food. And if your child is type I diabetic, this unusual relationship can backfire. However, most children love snacking, and mostly junk. Denying snacks could make their blood glucose levels dip too low and giving into their demands would mean setting a bad example regarding healthy eating. So as a parent the onus is on you to teach your child how to eat right. Dhvani Shah, pediatric nutrition and Author of the book ‘Don’t just feed…Nourish your child’, shares tips on how to deal with diet dilemmas of children with type I diabetes. Read to know can type I diabetes be prevented?

Healthy snacking tips for children with type I diabetes

  • Teach your children to realise what is healthy snacking and when it should be done. The right time for snacking is not 30 minutes before a meal. Teach your children to eat their snacks either mid-morning or mid-afternoon.
  • For younger children, pre-pack their snacks in colorful lunch boxes to make the snack appealing.
  • Incorporate a variety of snacks so that children don’t get bored eating the same ones.

What to eat

  • Dress up fruits and vegetables with dips made with peanut butter, low-fat sour cream, low-fat cream cheese, etc.
  • Cut the fruits and vegetables into different shapes. Also, make sure that the snacks are appropriate for your child’s age.
  • Never give children younger than three years old foods they can choke on like nuts, raisins, popcorn, raw vegetables and fruits.
  • Select snacks from several areas of the food pyramid so that ‘forbidden foods’ will not hold so much power over your child. So plan healthy sweets like oats laddoo and rajgira chikki, but limit the intake. Don’t allow unnecessary binging.

Eating healthy is all about choices

  • Limit foods like cereals, fruits, sweets, processed foods, refined foods and juices. Limit these in your child’s diet. Each main meal must contain one cereal + one protein + vegetables to balance the nutrition and GI of the food. An ideal diabetic diet should look like: beans on toast for breakfast, roti + subzi + dal for lunch and chicken curry + vegetable + rice for dinner. But remember portion control here is very crucial.
  • Make sure your child eats three main meals along with two to three mini meals throughout the day.
  • Keep at least 2.5 hours of a gap after the main meal and 1.5 hours gap after a mini meal before doing an activity.
  • When you serve food, remember half of your child’s plate should be filled with veggies in the form of soup, salad, subzi, tikki or stir fry.
  • Avoid hidden sugar – this is the sugar present in chips, bread, salted biscuits, packed juices, frozen foods, cured meat.
  • Eat whole cereals like wheat, barley, nachni, ragi, bajra as compared to noodles, pasta and bread as the later ones can raise your blood glucose levels too quickly.
  • Eating white rice is fine, since white rice eaten with subzi and dalmakes for a low glycemic index meal.
  • Use Indian spices like cinnamon, chilli, haldi and ajwain. They are insulin regulators
  • Eat whole fruit as a mid meal snacks and not dessert.

Word of caution: Even with all the healthy habits in place you can still go wrong if you fail to implement portion control. Remember, every child’s needs are different and to understand how much food is needed for your child’s development and nourishment, meet a dietician to get an idea. Also, make it a point to revise the diet with the help of the dietician every three to six months. Be strict and follow the regimen for your child’s good.


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