“My eight-year-old was
with Type 1 diabetes.
How can I help him
adjust to his new reality? ” – Marie Reynard, Toronto.
1. Facilitate the Move to a Healthier Diet
Julie Daniluk, Nutritionist: My No. 1 piece of advice is to help your son fall in love with healthy food. Fluctuations in glucose levels may cause him to crave the opposite-refined carbohydrates such as bread, cookies and candy-so you’ll need to explain to him that eating these can cause blood sugar to shoot up, leading to dry mouth, fatigue and stomach aches. Then get him excited about balanced eating by taking him shopping and teaching him to prepare nutritious meals.
For inspiration, buy a recipe book featuring low-glycemic-index foods and start adding new flavours to everyday cooking. Cinnamon can help to balance blood sugar, for example, and lemons and vinegar lower the glycemic index of carbohydrates.
To reduce carb intake, experiment with natural sweeteners such as xylitol and stevia, which are safe options for children, and learn how to make tasty treats using wheat alternatives, including coconut, almond or bean flour.
Finally, a diabetic requires regular meals plus snacks every two to three hours in between, so pack your son’s lunch with sweet yet low-sugar options, such as snap peas, red-pepper strips and berries.
Toronto-based certified nutritionist Julie Daniluk co-hosts the reality cooking show Healthy Gourmet on the Oprah Winfrey Network and recently published her first book, Meals That Heal Inflammation.
Each medical situation is unique. Be sure to consult your physician about the specifics of your condition.