Having diabetes means that there is too much sugar (glucose) in your blood. The body breaks down some of the foods your child eats into sugar. Your child’s blood carries the sugar to the cells of the body. Your child needs the sugar in the cells for energy, but too much sugar in your blood is not good for your child’s health. The body uses insulin to help move sugar from the blood into the cells.
Diabetes is a problem with the way the body makes or uses insulin. Insulin is made by the pancreas, which is an organ in the upper belly. Type 1 diabetes happens when your child’s pancreas stops making insulin. Type 2 diabetes happens when your child’s pancreas doesn’t make enough insulin or the body becomes unable to use the insulin. When your child’s body does not have enough insulin or has trouble using insulin, sugar builds up in the blood and cannot get into the cells.
Type 1 diabetes is treated with insulin, but food choices and exercise are still very important parts of managing blood glucose and preventing complications. The goal of food choices is to try to keep your child’s blood glucose at a normal level throughout the day. This is done by matching your child’s insulin doses with the types and amounts of food he eats. Meal plans can be designed to fit your child’s lifestyle.
With type 2, sometimes your child can control his blood glucose with just diet and exercise. Or he may also need to take oral medicine or insulin shots.
In all cases, understanding how the food your child eats affects blood glucose is an important part of taking good care of your child.
There are several ways to plan meals to help manage diabetes. Your diabetes care provider will help you find a meal plan that works for your child. Most plans are based on counting carbohydrates (carbs) in food because carbs have the biggest effect on your child’s blood glucose level. Carbohydrates are a source of energy for the body. There are three basic types of carbs: starches, sugars, and dietary fiber.
The most common types of meal plans are:
It is important to meet with a dietitian to develop a meal plan that fits your child’s taste and lifestyle, and your family’s budget.
Blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels can be high if blood glucose levels are too high. Your child’s blood cholesterol level and triglyceride level should be checked at least once a year. Your dietitian can help you adjust your child’s diet if you need to.
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