A little girl holding broccoli in front of her eyes.
Some of the recommended foods for children with diabetes are veggies, cheese, and eggs.

What is the Best Diet for Diabetics?

Every year, thousands of children are diagnosed with diabetes. An individual with diabetes struggles with blood sugar control, which can make what they do or do not eat particularly problematic. So, what is the best diet for diabetics? We will explore the options.

Knowledge is power! Knowing what foods work for your child and their diabetes, along with what foods do not, can help you get organized and prevent any diabetic complications. So, what should you know? What are some good foods you can include in your child’s diet, helping them grow and develop into happy and well-functioning adults despite their diabetes diagnosis?

Understanding Diabetes

Childhood diabetes, also known as juvenile diabetes or type 1 diabetes, happens when the pancreas fails to create enough, if any, insulin. Insulin is the hormone which allows your body’s cells to take in glucose (sugar) so that they can produce energy. This energy drives all of your body’s functions, ensuring good overall health and wellness.

Unfortunately, type 1 diabetes has no cure. Yet, it is an entirely manageable condition. With the proper diet and medication to help control blood sugar levels, your child can lead a relatively normal life.

Symptoms of Diabetes

There are many noticeable symptoms of diabetes in children. Some common ones you might notice before your child is diagnosed include:

  • Frequent urination
  • Excessive thirst
  • Increased hunger
  • Weight loss
  • Bed-wetting
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Mood fluctuations, such as irritability
  • Blurred vision
  • Heavy breathing
  • Frequent infections

If you notice any of these signs in your child, it is important to book an appointment with your doctor to obtain a proper diagnosis. From there, your child’s doctor can determine an appropriate way to help manage this condition.

If your child is experiencing confusion, shaking, rapid breathing, belly pains, a fruity smell to their breath, or they lose consciousness, seek out immediate medical attention.

Diabetes Causes

So, what causes diabetes in the first place? Generally, the exact reason as to why diabetes type 1 happens is unknown. The pancreas seems to do its job, up until it does not.

Experts believe that this might happen due to the body’s own immune system, which attacks the pancreatic insulin-producing cells, causing glucose to build in the blood due to a lack of insulin.

It is also theorized that genetics play a role in the development of type 1 diabetes. Further, having a virus, which may lead the body to attack the pancreas, can also increase your risk.

Risk Factors

Generally, type 1 diabetes impacts males and females equally. You also may have an increased risk of developing this type of diabetes if you are under 20 years of age (which is why it is often referred to as “childhood diabetes”), are Caucasian, and have an immediate family member with type 1 diabetes.

You May Also Like

Foods to Avoid for Children With Diabetes

For the most part, no particular food is completely off-limits. Yet, when and how they are consumed should be monitored.

Some foods you will want to limit include:

  • Crackers
  • Chips
  • Candy
  • Baked goods
  • Ice cream

At the same time, avoiding certain foods can help avoid unnecessary complications and also make things that much easier when it comes to managing diabetes. Some foods you may want to keep out of your child’s diet include:

  • Soda/pop
  • Energy drinks
  • Eggnog
  • Sweet tea
  • Fruit juices

Generally, anything with added sweeteners needs to be consumed with caution. These raise your child’s blood sugar quickly, which, with diabetes, can become problematic.

Another quick check you can always do if you are ever unsure involves looking up the glycemic index rating of a food. Anything with a glycemic index rating over 55 is a food you and your child will want to limit or consume alongside lots of protein to slow the absorption of glucose into the bloodstream.

The Best Foods for Children with Diabetes

With diabetes, it can be tricky to know what your child can eat exactly. It does take some careful planning and mindfulness to ensure your child avoids blood sugar highs and lows.

Some great food options include:

  • Some types of fruit (check the GI scale for this)
  • Veggies
  • Cheese
  • Boiled eggs
  • Nuts
  • Sugar-free drinks
  • Fatty fish
  • Avocados
  • Greek yogurt
  • Leafy greens

Many of the foods above are high in protein and low in carbs. This means they will not spike your child’s blood sugar levels. At the same time, you do want to ensure your child eats some carbs. The important thing here is to ensure you balance it out with adequate protein and fat, since this will slow the absorption of carbs and prevent blood sugar spikes. A few good carb options include potatoes and whole grains.

When selecting sweet options for your child, it might be best to go with sugar-free options, such as those containing sweeteners, since these will not directly impact blood sugar.

If you are ever unsure if a food works for your child or not, always revert back to the GI scale. A quick Google search can help you determine whether it’s the right choice or not. Furthermore, working with a dietician or your doctor can help you get on track when it comes to meal planning and managing diabetes.