Tag Archives: diabetes in children

Tips for a Healthy Diet for Kids with Type 1 Diabetes

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Parents and children alike worry that with a diagnosis of type 1 diabetes their diet will forever change. In reality, kids can continue to eat a regular diet with an emphasis on healthy food choices and variety. Along with these healthy choices, a regular diet can also include desserts and other treats in moderation. The only foods that we ask kids with diabetes to avoid are liquid carbohydrates, such as fruit juice and regular soda.

A healthy diet includes:

Vegetables. Encourage your kid to eat vegetables with every meal. They also make for great snacks. Try to eat as many colors from the rainbow as you can. Always have a variety and different colors to make sure your child is getting a mix of nutrients. You can never eat too many vegetables—except potatoes and french fries, which count as a starch.

Fruits. Keep a variety of fruits in your home. Fruits are a delicious and nutritious snack option. Like vegetables, kids should eat fruits of all colors. Choose whole fruits and avoid juice unless your child has a low blood sugar.

Healthy proteins. Pick lean proteins such as poultry, fish and eggs. Encourage your kids to increase their intake of plant-based proteins – beans, nuts, seeds and tofu. Avoid processed meats like sandwich meats, hot dogs, and bacon, and try to limit intake of red meat to only a couple of times per month.

Whole grains. Try to pick whole grains more often than refined grains like white bread and rice. Some great whole grain options include quinoa, farro, buckwheat, whole grain bread, brown rice and chickpea pasta.

Healthy oils. Healthy fats are an important part of a well-rounded diet. Use plant-based oils such as olive oil, avocado oil and sunflower oil when cooking and for salad dressings.

Water. Water is the best way to stay hydrated. Get your children in the habit of drinking water early in life. Kids should drink water with every meal and snack.

NYULMC-2011_2CP_RGB_300dpiFrom the Real Experts at NYU Langone Medical Center:

Vanessa Wissing, RD, CDE, is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator at the Robert I. Grossman, MD, and Elisabeth J. Cohen, MD, Pediatric Diabetes Center at Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital of New York at NYU Langone. She provides education and guidance to help children and their families better manage diabetes and overall health. 

American Girl’s Diabetes Care Kit Helps Kids with Diabetes Play, Learn, and Teach Others

diabetesThis year, American Girl made headlines with the introduction of a diabetes care kit for dolls. As a pediatric endocrinologist specializing in the care of diabetes in children, I love this idea. The kit has a glucose meter, glucose tablets, a medic alert bracelet (a pretty one), and an insulin pump, as well as other equipment that my patients have to carry with them at all times. It is a wonderful tool for medical play and for helping to prepare children for the use of an insulin pump.

As a mother, I love the idea even more. American Girl has offered to customize dolls to look like their owners for a long time. This was very exciting news in my house when my daughter was younger. The fact that this is a popular idea tells us something about the psychology of play and the relationship a child can have with a doll. Having American Girl offer accessories that can help dolls look even more like their owners is a wonderful gift to give a child. It allows them to have their doll experience the things that they themselves experience.

Technology is improving the management of diabetes, but it often makes diabetes more visible: an insulin pump clipped to your pants, a continuous glucose monitor on your arm. Many of these things may make children feel different or alone. Being able to customize your doll to share in your experiences is therapeutic.

It may also help children to explain diabetes to their friends. Many people have misconceptions about type 1 diabetes (which is the most common type of diabetes in children). One is that people who get diabetes get it because they ate poorly or did not exercise enough. This is not true. Type 1 diabetes is caused by a number of factors; approximately half of the risk is genetic and the other half is environmental. It isn’t clear what environmental triggers are responsible for the increase in the incidence of type 1 diabetes.

Another misconception is that people with type 1 diabetes can never eat treats like cake or ice cream. This simply isn’t true. We encourage people with diabetes to have a healthy balanced diet but most insulin regimens allow them to adjust their insulin doses depending on what they are eating. Children with diabetes can have treats occasionally, just like children without diabetes.

The Robert I. Grossman, MD, and Elisabeth J. Cohen, MD, Pediatric Diabetes Center at Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital of New York at NYU Langone recognizes the special needs of children with diabetes and we offer a multi-disciplinary approach to help families manage this complex condition. We have not only pediatric endocrinologists who specialize in diabetes care but also certified diabetes educators, nurses, dieticians, a clinical social worker, and a child life specialist. Soon we will also have American Girl Diabetes Kits.

NYULMC-2011_2CP_RGB_300dpiFrom the Real Experts at NYU Langone Medical Center:

Mary Pat Gallagher, MD, is an assistant professor in the Department of Pediatrics and the Director of the Robert I. Grossman, MD, and Elisabeth J. Cohen, MD, Pediatric Diabetes Center at Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital of New York at NYU Langone.