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From West Hills, California, USA:

My son is 8 years old and was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes 3 months ago. I try my best to balance his diet but he never has liked vegetables and now it seems even more important that he get the nutrients that they can give. He was on vitamins before. Should he keep taking them or what other foods have those same vitamins in them?


Dealing with a new diagnosis of diabetes is tough on both you and your son. One of the reasons is that managing diabetes is so tied up with food. It sounds to me as if you had made a pretty wise choice before your son had developed diabetes: recognizing that few eight year olds eat a varied diet with all those vegetable servings that are good for you. So you decided to take out an insurance policy by giving him a vitamin. It's still a good idea. I can promise you that getting diabetes didn't change his opinion of vegetables. Keep putting them on the table and eating them yourself. He'll most likely catch on one of these days and start eating them too. But maybe not -- in which case, he should include a vitamin pill in his budget for a long long time!

I know it's hard to try to relax because you're so concerned about his health right now. Still, it's counterproductive to make food issues into a battleground. In a kid's mind, if vegetables were so good, would you have to be forcing him to eat them? Your child with diabetes needs the same good nutrition that everyone in the family needs. Don't single him out for what he will surely see as the punishment of having to eat vegetables, which you didn't make him do before he had the diabetes.

I suggest that you get a good current book on nutrition for kids with diabetes. One example is my book Sweet Kids: How to Balance Diabetes Control & Good Nutrition with Family Peace. It may help you put some of your concerns in perspective and keep the peace at home. Your son needs his obviously smart mom more than he needs a "food policewoman" -- and you will probably be much less stressed not taking on that extra burden as well.


Additional comments from Dr. Tessa Lebinger:

I agree that it doesn't pay to fight over fruits and vegetables. You can control blood sugars without them. On the other hand, vitamins, minerals, and fiber are important for everyone. I recommend you concentrate on the "free vegetables", so you don't have to worry whether or not he eats them. I usually suggest that the parents make a rule in the house for all their children (diabetic and non diabetic) that if they want to have the fun food desserts at meals (cake, ice cream, etc), they must eat at least one serving of fruit or vegetables that day. The fruit and some vegetables must be taken into account in the meal plan, which is why it's nice to concentrate on the free vegetables. This gives back some feeling of control to the child with diabetes, and allows the family have similar rules for all the children in the house regarding health issues which are not unique to diabetes. If you are also giving your child vitamins, you need not worry about vitamin deficiency if your child chooses to forgo the healthy food.


Original posting 20 Jul 2000
Posted to Meal Planning, Food and Diet


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Last Updated: Tuesday April 06, 2010 15:09:12
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