Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. That means if you click and buy, I may receive a small commission. Please read my earnings disclaimer.
Teaching a child to manage his/her diabetes in healthy ways involves more than giving insulin shots or testing blood sugar levels. It is also about creating an environment where your child can learn the skills needed to eat well and be physically active.
Whether you’re preparing food for your child(ren), shopping for nutritious meals, picking up snacks on the way home from school, grabbing fast food after soccer practice, or cooking with them during family time, there are many opportunities for teaching and learning about healthy eating habits.
This post contains tips and ideas that may help you plan healthier meals to meet your family’s needs. The best advice? Start early and keep it simple.
Send a Lunch Box to School
I’ve found that packing a healthy lunch for my child every day, instead of trusting the school’s menu, has been the best way for us to keep better glucose levels. That way I know exactly what she is eating while at school.
For example, if this week there were pizza bites on the menu but we had already made oven-baked chicken with some pasta the night before, then all I need to do is send her with an ice-cold water bottle and some cut up some fruits as my child’s side items!
Many schools publish their weekly menus before Friday, so you can plan accordingly. If you see something that is not-so-healthy on their list of planned dishes just send your child with their lunch box that day!
Have your child help prepare lunches too. This way you are making him/her part of a healthier lifestyle.
Outside Physical Activity
When I was a kid, we barely had any electronic devices to entertain us. We constantly played in the yard or on our neighbor’s front lawn.
In today’s world of technology, it can sometimes seem like there are too many distractions from playing outdoors which is why as parents we should find time every day to engage with our children and encourage them to play outside instead of staying inside where all they see are screens.
I’m not saying that kids should stop using electronics, it’s just limiting it a bit so they are able to exercise and be more active for better glucose levels and keep those high blood sugar levels in a more controlled manner, and also to prevent a rise in blood sugar levels.
Limit the Takeout
After working all day long, I typically don’t feel energized enough to prepare a meal that will take a long time to finish.
It is easier to just buy some fast food, from McDonald’s or Wendy’s but these types of foods have a high amount of carbohydrates and even that, they can cause health problems even on nondiabetic people.
One great tip for us busy parents, is that when we are in the cooking mood: make more of it and freeze extras!
As busy parents of children with type 1 diabetes, meal planning can be the answer that you are looking for!
Luckily, there are some great apps that allow you to create your favorite recipes for the week ahead of time and even add grocery lists!
If you are more of a paper person, then take a look into my store for a weekly meal plan that you can print out the paper over and over again!
Meal Planning is one of the best ways to better controls your child’s glucose levels, by having the appropriate carbohydrate counting, serving sizes for meals, and to better track how food affects his/her sugar levels.
Weekly Meal Plans
Start the journey of eating healthier with simple weekly meal plans in order to keep your child’s blood glucose levels stable.
Give Non-Food Rewards
If you reward your child with food for doing well in school, he/she will think that being successful is all about eating. He/she will then always associate success with getting something as opposed to working hard and putting forth quality effort without any form of compensation.
Give your child other rewards such as a healthy activity like playing sports with them during the weekends, going to a special place like a zoo or pool and reading books instead of eating sweets all the time!
Read the Nutrition Label
One of the most important lessons for a type 1 diabetic parent, is to teach our child to read the nutrition labels on their foods.
In the beginning, it might not be something that will always come naturally. But with time, you and your child will get used to reading them and get a better understanding of the nutritional facts, service sizes, amount of carbs, and their ingredients.
Everything affects their sugar levels.
By your child learning to read nutritional labels, will set him/her up for success in adulthood and will be more likely to make healthy decisions when grocery shopping or even eating out.
Set an Example
Having a healthy lifestyle is never too early to start. We need to demonstrate to our child that eating the right foods and exercising, is something that everyone can do, not only kids.
Even if your child is not there with you, try ordering a healthy salad, or a low-carb meal instead!
Get into the routine of healthier eating habits.
Your kids may be too young to know what exactly is on their plate but even so – seeing mom or dad make healthier choices can motivate them into following suit sooner than later.
Lead by example!
Do Grocery Shopping Together
Why not spend time with your child while out grocery shopping?
Show him/her the difference between healthy foods and unhealthy ones. He/she will be able to pick his/her favorite fruit or vegetable, which increases the chance that he’ll/she’ll eat it!
You can also point out what might happen if you buy something else instead.
Take some quality family time when going food shopping at a supermarket. Point to all of the different types of fruits and vegetables which will make for an interesting outing.
Sharing these moments strengthens both parent-child relationships as well as building good eating habits.
It’s never too early to start teaching your child about the importance of living a healthy lifestyle.
We need to teach our type 1 diabetic children about better blood glucose level targets, by moving our bodies and getting the appropriate meal and snacks to nourish their bodies.
Teach them about being active, eating right, drinking enough water, giving the appropriate insulin injections, or using their insulin pumps. and taking medications will give them every opportunity possible.
Talk to the School About Their Menus
It’s important to remember that your child will eat what the school gives them for lunch, so make sure they’re getting quality food in their meals.
If the school menu is constantly filled with foods high in salt, sugar, or fat content, speak up!
I know it might be hard at first but if this problem persists then go straight to the district and tell them about how much better you will feel knowing your child (and other children as well) are eating healthier.
An Important Fact About Fast Food Places
Research shows that kids love to eat at fast-food places. As a result, their operators have learned the importance of location, location, location.
One of the considerations for their location is if there are schools nearby. These are known as kid-magnet places, where students stop by for lunch or on their way to school in between classes.
For these owners, if the more school nearby the better. It’s good business sense!
The best way to teach your child with type 1 diabetes how to eat healthily is by modeling healthy habits at home. This means packing lunches that include a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, planning for outside physical activity in the afternoons so they can expend some energy before their insulin spike from lunch sets in, rewarding them with non-food rewards as well as food treats if they are able to show self-discipline around eating unhealthy foods (like sweets) during the day.
It also means reading nutrition labels when you’re shopping and setting an example by only buying healthy snacks like mixed fruit, cheese sticks or nuts instead of chips or cookies–even though it may be tempting! so they’re easy for these kids to manage their blood sugar levels throughout the day
All these things will help encourage good habits that last, by preparing them for the challenges ahead.