Did you know that carbohydrates (carbs) are especially important for children with diabetes since they raise blood sugar levels?
After your child eats, their body converts carbohydrates into glucose (sugar). The glucose enters the blood stream, causing the blood sugar level to rise. Insulin is a hormone that aids in the transport of glucose into cells for use as energy.
However, not all carbs are created equal; some carb-containing foods are superior to others, especially when it comes to children with diabetes.
Choose whole grain over processed
Whole-grain foods, fruits, and vegetables are excellent sources of fibre, vitamins, and other nutrients. Fiber slows sugar digestion and absorption, which can help keep your child’s blood sugar levels within a safe range. Because they break down quickly and lack fibre, sweets, chocolate, soda, and highly processed foods cause your child’s blood sugar levels to rise quickly.
A meal with a good balance of carbs (including fibre), protein, and healthy fats will help your child feel fuller longer and deliver a range of critical nutrients.
A breakfast of peanut butter on a whole-wheat English muffin with strawberries, for example, contains carbohydrates, fibre, protein, and healthy fats. This meal will digest more slowly than a less balanced breakfast of waffles with pancake syrup and canned fruit cocktail drenched in heavy syrup (mostly carbs). Meals that digest quickly may leave insulin still active after most nutrients have been absorbed, perhaps resulting in low blood sugar later.
Why you should carb count your child’s meals
Counting carbs is a useful skill to have, especially if your child takes insulin with each meal. When you know how many carbs are in the foods your child consumes, you can better match their insulin doses.
Registered dietitians are experts in balancing carbs, proteins, and fats in children and adolescents with diabetes. They can advise you on how many grams of carbohydrates your child should consume with meals and snacks based on their age, size, activity level, and dietary preferences.
Working with your child’s certified dietitian will teach you practical skills such as how to:
- Count the carbs in the foods your child consumes
- Examine food labels
- Calculate the carbohydrate content of homemade recipes
- Experiment with fresh, healthy meal and snack options
Here’s how to help your child stay on track with meals and snacks
Keep a dietary diary
If you want a nutritionist to look over your child’s diet, keep track of what they eat and when, the number of carbs, and blood sugar readings before eating. The record will assist the care team in determining whether your child’s care plan needs to be adjusted.
Save useful links on your phone or PC
Portion-size charts and lists of typical foods with carb counts might be useful at home or on the go. Simply bookmark your favorite website or save a snapshot to your pictures folder.
Serve a wide range of dishes
Choose whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, lean protein, and healthy fats when feasible.
Experiment with something new
Are you having trouble arranging your child’s meals? Look at recipe websites for quick and healthy ideas.
Consider purchasing a digital food scale
This simple tool can assist you in calculating carbs, particularly in fruits and snacks. When carb counts are more precise, it is easier to match the appropriate insulin doses.
It may take some time to become accustomed to making changes. But starting today will help your child to keep up with them into the future. And you’ll be putting your child on a healthy path for life.