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Diet of a child with diabetes
September 9, 2021 / Nutrition / Beginner / Child / Type 1

Diet of a child with diabetes

30 min read

I often have a feeling that somehow everything in life comes together, with reason, as if that is the way it should be. And so I am thinking about how I was lucky that I got diabetes at first, and after that how I was badly regulated by default for many years. All of those years have frustrated me and drained the energy out of me which made me seek a better way of living with diabetes. I am glad I have finally found it. I was even lucky because I got a chance to write a few articles about that and to give a couple of lectures, for people with diabetes and for my fellow doctors. After that came the greatest happiness, I got a chance to use everything I know and everything I have tested on myself, got wrong or had fixed, in order to help a child with diabetes. In our family of four, both me and one child are living with diabetes. The other two members (husband and the younger child) eat the same food as us because that is the best and the most normal food. There is no compromise here. One of the crucial settings of our life is that my boy and I feel completely free and carelessly at home, while knowing that everything is adjusted for us. My husband and my baby profit out of that and they reap the fruits of health and good food.

What does my preschooler’s menu look like?

We adhere to the following guidelines in our diet:

  •       In the house one can only find the food without carbohydrates which suddenly and unpredictably raises the sugar levels
  •       We pick food in its complete and little processed form
  •       We choose local and seasonal ingredients as much as possible (which is impossible for coconut flour and chia seeds, but it is feasible for meat, eggs, vegetables, fruit etc.)

My husband and I both work so our son spends a great part of the work week at the kindergarten. He eats breakfast at home and usually he eats:

  •       Chia pudding (chia seeds, almond milk, stevia; we make a chocolate version which includes cocoa or a fruit version with berries)
  •       Eggs
  •       Greek yoghurt with baked seeds, nuts and cinnamon
  •       Bread (made out of almond flour, flax, low-fat cheese and eggs) with blackberry jam or peanut butter; cream cheese or chocolate spread (hazelnuts, coca, coconut oil, stevia)
  •       „pancakes“ (two eggs with little cinnamon baked din a pan as a pancake, buttered with jam or a chocolate spread)

 

A very accommodating preschool staff allowed me to achieve an arrangement that the menu becomes adjusted. They have ejected all sorts of cereals, flours, pasta, rice, potatoes, sugar and fruit from the menu; so really anything that can suddenly raise his sugar levels. For morning and an afternoon snack, he makes turns on eating yoghurt, nuts, carrots, kohlrabi and cucumber. For lunch he eats meat or fish with a side of vegetables and legumes. When we get home, there usually comes one more snack, nowadays that is most often a slice of bread with some spread, nuts or strawberries. Standard dinner includes boiled broccoli, cheese, beet, chickpea, a slice of bread, peanut butter and a little bit of dark chocolate.of the fruits, we eat berries the most. I rarely eat other fruit because its effect on my glucose level is too high and I don’t want to be bothered with it if I have another option. If the child wants fruit, I give it to him only after a full meal (everything except bananas, figs and dried fruit which I simply cannot cover with insulin). In my experience, in that way the action of fructose and glucose, which can be found in fruit, is slowed down and its effect on the glucose level is softened. We don’t weigh the food and we don’t count the carbohydrates because there is no need for it. We judge it by heart. Their blood sugar levels are not perfect but they are at the same time much better than any levels that I went through when I was a child with diabetes. The most important part is that there are no sudden ups and downs of the blood sugar levels. We live without fear that certain short term or long term complications would arise. We play, jump and run, unencumbered by our illness. One of the best articles regarding this topic which I have read, and the one which helped me a lot in the approaches to my child is the article written by Mirta Kujundžić, which is available on this link: https://typeoneprincess.com/kako-uspjesno-djeci-promijeniti-prehranu/

 

Why do we follow this type of diet?

Firstly because I eat like this (to see details check the link https://www.nainzulinu.com/author/tanja-dragun/). Considering the fact that I am responsible for buying and preparing meals in our household, the family members eat what I bring to the table. If you observe it more carefully, it’s like that with all of us: children follow what we do and soak it all up like sponges. Every family has their own rituals, and every family makes it sustainable. For us, it is eating yoghurt with pumpkin seeds, while for some other families it is eating white bread with Nutella. At the end of the day all the families are alike. You have around 10 to 15 meals which you love to prepare, eat and which you consider to be great. You sometimes try something new, something keeps while certain meals you never ever do again.

I don’t have any intentions of lying to my child. I have been through what he is going through and what is yet to come. My mission is not to protect him from all troubles and challenges which come with a chronic disease because I am not sure if that is even possible. But I have something my mom didn’t have, which she would give anything in the world to have. I KNOW  how he can live a fantastic life. I know every detail. I know how he can safely go out, safely go to school, safely do sports, safely travel, safely do the nonsense, and if one day I give birth to a daughter with diabetes, I know every detail which can help her to maintain a steady pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding. My mission is to pass all my knowledge onto him. It’s up to him and maybe some forces if he wants to accept it.

Forbidden fruit

There are some things you can’t find in our house. Cigarettes, carbonated beverages, sugar, flour… we don’t have them at home and we don’t talk about them because they simply don’t exist for us just as some people don’t have animal products at home, because of moral reasons, or as someone who doesn’t consummate pumpkins because he doesn’t know how to prepare them. I definitely won’t make a meal for either my child or me, which I feel will hurt our life habits. In the same way I won’t buy that sort of food for my family.

 In the specific phase of the development, a child’s job is to rebel and to find its own identity, independent of parents. I don’t expect anything less than that. The same goes for cigarettes and alcohol, I presume. I am here to teach him everything I can, to support him, to comfort him and to provide an example. And to let him grow up.

 I hope to write an article about that in a couple of years. The parenting reality is that there are truly some things which are considered to be a forbidden fruit, and by being that they are very appealing. That doesn’t mean that our goal should be to give all „fruit“ to our children because in that way we don’t care for their safety. I definitely won’t have cigarettes and donuts at home. But that doesn’t mean my child won’t try some of that while he is growing up.moreover, my life choices don’t mean that my child will become a bitter smoker or an overweight person with diabetical complications. Even if that happens, I would have to accept the reality, support and comfort him. That is what I plan to do. As long as he is so young that I am the one who decides his every meal (because he is not capable of making his own), I will take care that he goes through his days with good blood sugar levels. I am not the one who prohibits but the one who is direct and sincere when it comes to the reasons why we pick certain food. I tell him anecdotes about my childhood, I talk to him about all the messy and ugly situations I have confronted, where I was in fear of getting hypo or hyperglycemia, because I didn’t know what to eat.  Hyperglycemia and high glucose variability add up, and I will take care that he gets good days, as much as he can. And when he grows up, I doubt that by the age of 18 he will be the one who will shop, prepare and serve the food in our home. Traditionally parents do it. I will play my role as a parent in a way that I will take care that I make him good meals, even at the times when I can’t provide good days for him.

 

Maybe he will eat a leafy meat-pie at school, but I will make sure that he becomes full after eating breakfast and that a  delicious meal and dessert will be waiting for him when he comes home.

I will play for each point and I will throw myself on every ball.

 I was a child, a teenager and a young adult with diabetes and I cannot turn a blind eye to all the sufferings of non-belonging, fears of being different, lack of confidence and the wish to escape your illness and all its restrictions. I will try to understand him. I will use all my knowledge to help him to cover all the food he wants to eat while in company, with the insulin. Yet at the same time I don’t want to lie to him. I want to make him stronger. He has a life where diabetes is the least of his concerns. He is different, others will know it, and some will use it against him. I will not teach him to hide but to look each person in the eyes, with a head held up high and to say: „So, what?“. It’s basically my plan to teach him how to sailon a calm sea. So when a wave comes, he will know how to get by it or a way on how to swim through it. But he will always have a tool which he can use to get back, to achieve calmness. Whenever he would like.

Tanja Dragun Read more posts by this author
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