A child with diabetes is different
Truth is the only thing in the world that cannot be beautified.
My child has diabetes and that makes her different from others. Her pancreas does not produce insulin, so we have to ingest it through a pen or pump. We need to control and maintain a stable blood sugar level instead of her brain. A child of this up to a certain age, can not do it alone but needs the help of parents, all day and all night.
Help is actually an all-day effort by parents to mimic the work of the pancreas and to dose insulin according to the time of day, current glycemia and its trend, type and amount of meals, physical activity etc. We have become successful (by our standards) in this only by changing our diet to ingest less carbohydrates than we are used to both before and after the diagnosis of diabetes.
If glycemia is not in the desired range, it visibly affects the child’s behavior, activity and mood. But this is not always easy to recognize, not even for myself, let alone the rest of the child’s environment.
What is the desired glycemia for a child? Glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1c) of 7.5% and lower, but not much lower, is considered a success in children. However, when we translate this 7.5% into mmol values, it actually means that the average blood sugar of a child is around 9 mmol / l, which is 100% higher than the glycemia of a healthy child whose values range between 4.3 mmol / l and 5., 6 mmol / l 2 h after a meal. In addition, a value of 7.5% does not exclude that the child has spent a lot of time in hypoglycemia. Our experience has shown, as we only learned with the Libre FGM device, that our child was in hypoglycemia almost every day for at least 2 hours between 2 finger poke measurements.
Many will say that diabetes is unpredictable and unpredictability is then accepted as an explanation for all too high or too low sugars. By carefully choosing foods and combining them, we were able to increase the predictability of glycemia or diabetes. Each age has its own hormones and challenges that make it difficult to regulate, but can be more easily overcome by adjusting your diet.
There are a lot of stories about the Low-Carb diet. Many who have tried it, praise it for helping them fight many nasty diseases or conditions. Those who have not tried it react negatively to the very mention of LC. From the negative reactions I read ignorance of what that diet actually is, and unwillingness to make a big turn in everyday habits. Lastly, and perhaps firstly, I see in negative reactions an unwillingness to be different.
A few weeks ago, I was busy at an all-day conference. It was only on the third attempt during the reception that I was able to use plain water. Most refreshment glasses were filled with juice, iced tea or flavored water. In such an environment where everything that contains a large proportion of carbohydrates is socially accepted and common, diversity is certainly noticed.
It is harder to stay on that path with a child because of the environment whose eating habits are significantly different from those we have introduced. Not only do habits differ, but a child’s happiness is often determined by the amount and type of food eaten. When I was a kid, there weren’t as many sweets available as there are now. Does that mean I was hungry or unhappy? I don’t think my child will one day look at childhood with sadness because he didn’t eat enough milk chocolate or kiki candy because it was socially accepted, or marketing driven. The child will remember playing with brother, sister, family and friends and adventures from kindergarten and school and this is what we need to allow the child. Healthy and happy, not sweet childhood.
We, in our diet, do not blindly follow any instructions, but choose foods that are available to us, nutritionally valuable and after the consumption of which we achieve stable glycemia. We also do not stick to either the minimum or maximum daily carbohydrate intake because not every day is the same. What is certainly not in our diet are all cereal flours and related products, then potatoes and rice and light products. We successfully combine everything else through all meals.
The LC diet is very tasty, filling enough and varied, but it is difficult to perform without careful planning and preparation of basic dishes and snacks in advance. When you’re hungry you can’t just walk into a store and buy yourself something. I mostly carry our sandwiches and cookies when we go out somewhere for a couple of hours. Something is lost on the daily spontaneity of life, but in diabetics, predictability and easier management of glycemia are achieved. We can’t go anywhere anyway without checking to see if we have dextrose and a sensor reader or a blood sugar meter. In addition, we just add some snacks and water.
If meals are planned for a couple of days, then everything is easy. It is necessary to take two hours every 3 days to prepare homemade bread and pastries, crackers, biscuits or some other small desserts. It should be noted that it often takes less time to prepare LC meals and desserts than for a regular meal. It is necessary to get well acquainted with new foods and their properties, dosage and combination. It all comes with experience and google.
At first, I wrote that my child is different from the others. She is different because she does not have her own insulin, but she still achieves glycemia close to her healthy peers – which is our ticket to a future without complications.
Every day I teach her which foods are good for her and which are not and why, and what has more or less sugar in them. Was it difficult to change the child’s diet? It became easy when the child realized that mom makes special desserts for her that we all enjoy, and that the whole family eats equally. It’s easier for me to make an LC cake, biscuit or cake because I know exactly what’s inside. I know that there are no various preservatives or flavor enhancers and I know that I will not pour insulin into her for hours after that meal and vibrate what the result will be.
The most important thing in this whole story is consistency. Creating eating habits is extremely important and can be learned, but as with everything, it takes time. I use the opportunity every day to teach her why we eat just that food. Many have asked me why I do all this? I am investing in her healthy future. If I apply even 30% of what I explain to her about diabetes and diet later in life as an adult girl or woman, I will be satisfied. And 30% is better than 0%. I teach her to question the usual and the imposed. I teach her that we are not all the same. There are children who are allergic to eggs or milk. There are children who are vegan and do not eat meat, eggs and fish. I teach her to respect everyone’s choice and look at her plate.