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Nutrition Standards for Juvenile Diabetics

Posted by Andrew Bicknell on Mar 12th, 2007 in Information, News & Articles

The Early Warning Signs of Diabetes The nutritional recommendations for juveniles with diabetes are much the same as the general population in this country. Children with diabetes need to eat a well balanced and healthy diet in order to keep their blood sugar levels in the normal range. Because of this need to control blood sugar they must eat foods in specified amounts depending on how they affect blood sugar levels.

Finding out that their child has diabetes can be quite shocking for many parents. One of the most challenging parts of any diabetics lifestyle change is learning how to prepare meals and snacks. This can be doubly hard for the parents of a diabetic child because following the dietary advice of the doctor and dietitian can affect the entire household.

Attempting to learn what foods to feed a juvenile with diabetes can be confusing at first. There is a wealth of information in books and on websites but for most parents in can be overwhelming trying to figure it all out. The important thing for parents with newly diagnosed diabetic children to do is learn to spot the good information from the bad.

The best place to start is the American Diabetes Association where they will find the Diabetes Food Pyramid. This pyramid is much like the USDA food pyramid that everyone is familiar with with one difference. The USDA pyramid classifies food by the group they are in whereas the diabetic food pyramid groups foods based on their carbohydrate, protein, and fat content and breaks them down into the amount of servings for each. There are six groups that make up the diabetic pyramid and they include starches, proteins, fats, meats, fruits and vegetables.

If we take a look at each category we can get a better understanding of each and how they fit into a well balanced diabetic diet plan.

  • Starches and Grains: These are the primary sources of carbohydrates for everyone. These include foods like whole grains, rye, oats and the starchy vegetables such as potatoes and corn. This group also includes the dry beans such as pinto beans and black eyed peas. The suggested number of serving per day is between six to eleven. This is a range and must be personalized to the individual’s needs and goals with the help of a registered dietitian.
  • Vegetables: Vegetables should always be a part of every dietary plan. They are full of many vital nutrients, are low in fat, and high in fiber all of which contribute to good health. Diabetics should have three to five servings per day. It is important to note that the starchy vegetables are not included in this category and should not be substituted into this group of the pyramid.
  • Fruits: Fruits are loaded with vitamins, minerals and fiber as well as carbohydrates. Serving sizes are determined by the individual fruit and suggested serving are two to four per day.
  • Milk: Milk and dairy products are essential in that they contain protein, calcium and many of the vitamins we need each day. Because they can contain a substantial amount of fat it is best to choose low fat or non fat versions of these products. The pyramid recommends two to three servings per day.
  • Meat and Meat Products: Meat and meat products are a primary supply of protein for all people. They also provide essential vitamins, minerals and amino acids the body needs to function in a healthy fashion. Choose only lean cuts and trim any visible fat to help keep the amount of saturated fat ingested to a minimum.
  • Fats, Sweets and Alcohol: While diabetics can partake of these it is recommended to keep their use in meal preparation and snack to a minimum. For the juvenile with diabetes this is important in that it teaches them food habits that will stay with them for the rest of their life.

The American Diabetes Association is a good place to start when it comes to learning about feeding a juvenile with diabetes. They have everything needed for healthy meal planning, exchange lists, weight control and recommended exercise programs.

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