Meal Planning for a Child with Diabetes

Meal planning is one of the most important tools of a child’s diabetes management plan. Childhood is a very active period of growth and development. A child with diabetes requires enough food to provide energy for this active period, while at the same time controlling blood sugar and preventing complications. Hence emphasis is placed on healthy eating. This is achieved through the usage of a meal plan. Meal planning is so important that foods can be matched to medications such as insulin and physical activity levels to effect proper blood glucose control.

What is a Meal Plan?

A meal plan is like a map which provides a guide to:

  • The types of foods to be eaten
  • How much food is to be eaten
  • When is the food to be eaten

The meal plan helps the child with diabetes to balance his/her food with medication and physical activity as well as provide energy and nutrients for normal growth and development.

 Meal plans are not special diets.  The child with diabetes does not eat any differently from the child without diabetes. Caregivers are reminded that meal planning will work best when all members of the family follow the same healthy eating guidelines. The nutrition needs and food likes of a child with diabetes are no different from his/her sister, brother or friend who does not have diabetes. They are children first, diagnosed with a chronic condition.

What does a meal plan do?

  • Like the road and bridges on a map the meal plan guides choices of meals and snacks using the Six Food Groups of the Caribbean.
  • Healthy eating with diabetes includes a wide variety of foods from the six food groups.

These food groups supply nutrients such as carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals and water which are essential for healthy living. Carbohydrates which are found mainly in staples, legumes, fruits and yellow starchy vegetables have the greatest impact on blood sugars. Sugars and sweets are also major sources of carbohydrate and should be eaten in amounts recommended by a Dietitian or Nutritionist.  The amount of carbohydrate eaten will influence the blood sugar levels.

The role of care givers

Caregivers your responsibility is to provide healthy food choices in the correct amounts and at the right time. For good blood sugar control meals and snacks should be eaten at the same time each day.  Allow your child to control how much he eats – This amount is usually determined by a Registered Dietitian or Nutritionist.

Author: Deon M. Bent RD

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