Making Better Nutrition a New Year's Resolution
We made it through the holiday season with all the extra sugary sweets at holiday parties and school events. The parties that I new of in advance were much easier to plan for than the unannounced snacks that often appeared in my son’s class. I don’t want to come off sounding like the Grinch, but why must a parent bring in candy when they drop by their child’s class? And does food have to be a reward for successes at school? All the fatty and sugary treats are not good for anyone’s child, but especially not for children living with Type 1 diabetes. Our school tries to be health conscious and the teacher has asked parents not send in treats and snacks unannounced, but it still happens.
Here’s what I do but and I’m sure you all have even more strategies so please consider sharing them by responding to this blog. Sometimes food comes in prepacked with a carb count then the school nurse gives Josh a bolus with his insulin pump and he eats like all the other kids, but this isn’t a great solution when there are too many days in a row of treats or if there’s a lunch dessert he really wants. Other times, Josh just substitutes a snack he has in the class room already – cheese sticks, pretzels, an apple. And the final option is to bring the treat home and maybe have it with dinner, but usually the dessert is crushed it in the backpack and forgotten about it. That’s one of my favorite diabetes solutions, but it does make a mess in the backpack.
It’s important to put these “food challenges” in the context of the daily meal plan and to help children begin to see the cause effect of food choices. They can be amazing at coming up with creative solutions to deal with food challenges and then they “own” the solutions. I try some “what would you do if scenarios” and Josh helps solve the problem. Isn’t that one of the skills we should be teaching our children any way? We role play food choices – what would you do if Johnny offered you half his candy bar? What if Joe’s mom offered you double stuff Oreo cookies for snack? Sometimes the answer can be “I’d count the carbs and bolus” or “I’d take it home for later” or “I’d be high later”. I guess eventually we’ll get around to the “what would you do if Joe offered you a cigarette?” But for now, we do food scenarios and take another small step in helping Josh to manage his diabetes. For more problem solving techniques, check out one of my favorite diabetes books, Betty Brackenridge and Richard Rubin’s Sweet Kids – especially chapter 5 “ Beyond Blood Sugar Control: Diabetes Goals for Famlies”.
Obesity is at an all time high in this country and it’s touching the lives and waist lines of children. Type 2 diabetes is striking people at younger and younger ages. Parents can elevate nutrition conversations to the level of anti-smoking, and anti-drug conversations. Then we need to move into the schools and demand soda machines be removed, that doughnuts are not the only breakfast offering, and that whole-grains, fruits and vegetables are part of all school meals. And yes, part of the meals we pack for our children as well.
My New Year’s Resolutions is to think twice before I bring in iced cookies to go with the cupcakes at the next class party. I want to make sure there is a colorful veggie tray with a mild dip. At least, I’ll volunteer to bring the Crystal Lite or the sugar free popsicles. Trust me, children without diabetes will grab for the popsicles too! And, I’m going to read a book recommended on the Children with Diabetes website Brown Bag Success: Making Healthy Lunches Your Kids Won't Trade by Sandra K. Nissenberg, MS, RD and Barbara N. Pearl, MS, RD. Published by John Wiley & Sons, 1997. I’ll let you know how it is.
Published On: January 19, 2007