Thanks for your question.
Healthy eating is important for everyone, including kids with diabetes. Despite what many people think, kids with diabetes don’t need a special diet or different foods - your friends should be eating the same healthy foods as you are! The difference when you have diabetes is that you’ve got to think about balancing food choices with insulin and physical activity levels so that your blood glucose levels (BGLs) don’t go too high or too low; and to stay healthy later in life.
Carbohydrate foods like bread, pasta, cereals, rice, fruit, starchy vegetables (potato, sweet potato, corn), milk, yoghurt and sugar all turn into glucose (sugar) in the body, so the right balance of these foods is really important for managing BGLs. Some people with diabetes are taught to count serves, portions or exchanges of these foods to help get the right balance between food and insulin.
You might have heard that people with diabetes are told not to eat food and drinks like soft drink and lollies, this is because they are very high in sugar and can cause BGLs to go too high. Once upon a time, people with diabetes were told to avoid all sugars (even sugar in fruit, yoghurt and breakfast cereal!!), but we now know that small amounts of sugar in these healthy foods can be included without upsetting BGLs.
People with diabetes are often told to watch out for too many high fat foods as well. Foods high in fat (especially the ‘bad’ saturated or animal fats) are bad for your heart, so it’s important to watch out for the saturated fats found in lots of snack foods, takeaways, fatty meats and choose low fat milk, yoghurt and cheese.
Remember that there are some foods that you need to eat everyday day like fruit, vegies, breads, cereals, low fat dairy foods, lean meat, chicken or fish. These foods give you energy to do all the things you like doing, plus lots of important things like fibre, protein, vitamins and minerals.
Other foods like biscuits, chips, chocolate and takeaways are higher in fat or sugar and are “sometimes” or “special occasion” foods because they don’t give you the important nutrients that your body needs for good health. These foods don’t have to be avoided all together, but should only be included as special occasion treats (whether you have diabetes or not!).
A healthy eating plan for diabetes needs to fit in with your lifestyle. Because everyone is different in height, weight, activity levels as well as growth and development, there is not one healthy eating plan that suits everyone. Your dietitian can help you work out a meal plan to suit you.
Talk to your dietitian next time you are at clinic for more information.