When the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released the statistics of children (meaning under age 20) who are diagnosed with diabetes type 1, I freaked out. There are about 215,000 American kids suffering from this deadly disease. My imagination took me to more scary scenes of amputated legs and feet, blindness, renal failure..I wanted to scream! Or maybe join the crusade on juvenile diabetes control and prevention.
Diabetes type 1, according to medical science, develops when the production of insulin is impaired. Insulin is a hormone that is needed to control the amount of blood sugar. The figures are stunning and continue to rise. I abhor the sight of kids having all these injections and pumps, instead of jumping around and having their own moments of childhood and adolescence.
As a parent, I would intensify my research for treatment options, ask a health provider or nutritionist and go to the extent of searching for a support group to deal with the physical and mental anguish of scary thoughts about the future of a child with diabetes. I am certain though, that getting started is important in providing the proper care to a kid with diabetes. And one of the things that I would take into account is the family menu and eating habits. What I have in the ref and cupboards, what I used to prepare before the diagnosis may not be fit now. It may not be easy but it would certainly help. Definitely, you can still have the same fun and passion even if the menus are changed.
Let’s make it easier to get started and talk about planning the family meals and implementation.
KITTY (Keep it to yourself). Normally, kids, even adults, can resist a change in their diets especially those which have always been there ” hotdogs, bacon, pastries, fast food goodies, candy bars, etc. All you need to do is to keep it to yourself, don’t make it obvious that you are indeed restyling your menu. What they don’t know won’t hurt them, right? The reason is simple ” a radical change is never a popular choice. Slow but sure!
Get every family member involved discreetly. Imposing rules because of one kid can totally piss off the others. The big sacrifice is not always acceptable to others. I would suggest that you gather everyone around and ask them what they think about food replacements that are acceptable to them. If you buy tons of peanuts which are great munchies while watching TV, a good replacement would be cashew nuts. Let them understand that peanuts have more fats than cashew nuts. Almonds and walnuts are also great, but cashews are less expensive.
Fridge and cabinet attack. Kids usually find comfort in attacking the fridge and cabinets where foods are most likely kept. They grab anything that feeds their fanciful eyes. Stocking your fridge with fruits, sliced, neatly organized in transparent containers. Practice a little artistry to make your fridge and cabinet attractive. Make these foods accessible to them. If you’re in for some baked goodies, stock up your cookie jars with low-carb cookies. Mind you, they wouldn’t even notice that. They will always think that these are the familiar sweet things they so love.
Cooking differently this time. This is a very important aspect in the treatment options for your diabetic kid. Controlled intake of calories is a must. It is high time for you to be conscious of how much calories a particular food menu yields. I know this is the hardest part of all but family meals can be re-structured according to needs and pleasures too. Everyone loves a crunchy fried chicken for dinner, right? If it used to be legs, wings and thighs, the breast could still come at par with the other top chicken cuts. Retain the flavor but fry it in cholesterol-free oil. It could be a little more expensive, but think of what it can do in the long run. Guilt-free cooking can be learned. There are so many resources to tap as far as healthy cooking and recipes are concerned.
Be a keen observer. No matter how busy you are, make it a point that you have a family meal shared together. Again, don’t impose. Just tell them you have prepared something special and different that is worth the try. This is your opportunity to see their reactions in the structured meal you have prepared.
We don’t want our diabetic kid to feel guilty about the modifications in family meals, as well as depriving the other members of the family of what they love to eat. Little changes can be introduced slowly in an atmosphere of fun and good ole family bonding.