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Halloween Ideas for Kids with Diabetes

Lisa Feierstein Children's Health, Diabetes Leave a comment   , , , ,

Halloween is a beloved holiday for most kids, especially those with a sweet tooth. However, if you have a diabetic child you may be worried about blood sugar spikes that Halloween candy can bring.

Despite your child’s diagnosis, there are ways for them to enjoy Halloween with their friends and family. All it takes is some preparation and some creativity.

Here are a few ideas for a fun, diabetes-friendly Halloween for you and your family.

enjoy halloween diabetes

Instead of Trick or Treating, try these ideas:

Start a new Halloween tradition: Try a family dinner or movie night for Halloween fun without candy. Even a family board game night can be a great Halloween tradition, especially if the whole family gets dressed up in costumes.

Have a Halloween party: By organizing your own Halloween party, you have control over the treats and activities. This will allow you you to substitute diabetes-friendly alternatives to candy and other sugary snacks. If you offer plenty of spooky games and crafts, even your child’s friends may forget the lack of candy on the buffet table.

Tips for Diabetes-friendly Trick or Treating

Every family and every child with diabetes is different. If you and your child want to make trick or treating part of your Halloween this year, here are some tips that may help avoid blood sugar spikes.

Give neighbors alternative treats for your child: Before Halloween, you can give your neighbors non-candy treats or small toys for them to give to your child. Then, your child can have the fun of collecting treasures around the neighborhood without the worries that over-indulging in candy could bring.

Have a protein-rich dinner beforehand: Protein can help mitigate the effects of excess sugar. So before heading out for trick or treating, serve a protein-rich dinner to get your child’s blood sugar in the ideal range.

Find another home for the candy haul: Even those of us without diabetes know that eating a lot of candy at once isn’t a good idea. Once your child has collected a bag full of candy, there are many opportunities to re-purpose that extra candy for a better cause.

Save for Low Sugar Days – Pack up excess candy and use to combat low blood sugar. This allows your child to enjoy some candy when they really need it.

Halloween Fairy/Sugar Goblin – Many families have invented an imaginary creature that will exchange candy for a toy at night when your child is asleep. This can be a great way to avoid tantrums from lost candy with the excitement of a new toy.

Donation – Help your community by donating your extra candy to a homeless shelter, assisted living center, or other organization in need.

Start Planning Early for a Memorable and Diabetes-Safe Halloween

Every kid deserves a fun and safe Halloween. With these tips, you can make your child’s Halloween one to remember.

Additional Resources

13 Halloween Ideas for T1D Families – T1 Everyday Magic
Added Sugar Amounts Now on Nutrition Facts Panel


Using a Low Carb Diet to Help Treat Type 1 Diabetes

Lisa Feierstein Children's Health, Diabetes Leave a comment   , , , ,

For children with type 1 diabetes, snack time isn’t always simple. Diet is an important part of a diabetes management plan to help avoid blood sugar spikes. But new research by endocrinologists at Boston Children’s Hospital suggests that food can be used as a powerful tool to help keep blood sugar under control.

low carb veggies

About the Study

Endocrinologists Dr. David Ludwig and Dr. Belinda Lennerz from Boston Children’s Hospital conducted an observational study on diabetic children who follow a very low carb diet. The children’s very low carb diets included on average only 36 grams of carbs a day.

The parents of these children were members of a Facebook group for families with diabetic children. The observational data was confirmed by the child’s doctors and analyzed using the latest techniques.

Here are just 3 possible benefits of a very low carb diet for children with diabetes.

Greater Glycemic Control

Children in the study had what the researchers called “exceptional” glycemic control. The common target range for hemoglobin A1c values are below 7%. However, children in the study had average hemoglobin A1c values at 5.67%, within the normal range for children overall.

Researchers are very excited at the prospect of diabetic children achieving normal hemoglobin A1c values with the help of diet. More research is needed to confirm the connection, but the possibility is an amazing development in the treatment of type 1 diabetes.

Less Complications

The study found that children on the very low carb diet had lower hospitalization rates than usual. Only 1% of the children were hospitalized for hypoglycemia and only 2% were hospitalized for diabetic ketoacidosis.

Boost Mental Health

High or low blood sugar is known to negatively impact mood, mental resilience, and overall brain health. For children with diabetes prone to high or low blood sugar spikes, mental health is especially important. For more information and other ways to improve mental health in your diabetic child, see our blog on mental health for teens with type 1 diabetes.

Diet can be a powerful tool in the management of type 1 diabetes.

Ask your doctor about whether a low carb or other specialized diet could be a good addition to your child’s diabetes management plan.

Resources

Very Low Carb Diet can safely curb blood sugar in type 1 diabetes, study suggests – Boston Children’s Hospital
Management of Type 1 Diabetes With a Very Low–Carbohydrate Diet (Original Research) – Pediatrics
New Recommendations from the ADA: Management of Type 1 Diabetes In Children and Adolescents
Added Sugar Amounts Now On Nutrition Facts Panel


Added Sugar Amounts Now on Nutrition Facts Panel

Lisa Feierstein Children's Health, Diabetes Leave a comment   , , , , , , , , , ,

Nutrition News: Added Sugar Now on the Nutrition Facts Panel

FDA_Nutrition_Facts_Label

By U.S. Food and Drug Administration [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

You may have already seen an updated Nutrition Facts label on products you’ve recently bought. Effective July 2018 the FDA will require that the Nutrition Facts label include a new category – added sugar. This category will be shown in the Total Carbohydrates section – on a separate line.

The FDA says that added sugars, “include sugars that are either added during the processing of foods, or are packaged as such (e.g., a bag of table sugar), and also includes sugars from syrups, honey, and concentrated fruit or vegetable juices.”

This is another step in a series of efforts to help all of us make better food choices and minimize our risk of obesity and chronic conditions such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Many medical studies have shown that those chronic diseases of adulthood often begin in childhood. The American Heart Association (AHA) also believes there is strong evidence that atherosclerosis starts in childhood – and a poor diet, especially one with a high sugar intake may be the culprit.

How Much is Too Much?

American Heart Association Recommendations on Sugar Intake for Children

AHA guidelines suggest a limit of 25 grams or less of added sugars per day for children – only 6 teaspoons. These new recommendations also advise limiting the intake of sugar sweetened beverages to one or fewer 8 oz. servings per week.

Furthermore, for kids under age 2 the recommendations are even more stringent – the AHA recommends avoiding all added sugar. For perspective, one 12 ounce sweetened beverage could contain 40 grams of sugar (9 teaspoons.)

How does that compare with the typical intake of added sugar by children? Studies show that most kids are consuming an average of 80 grams of added sugar per day – more than 3 times the recommended amount.

Focus on Natural Sugars: Reducing Sugar Consumption for Children with Diabetes

fruitChildren with diabetes already need to monitor their food intake to manage their condition. By moving focus away from processed foods with lots of added sugar to whole foods like fruits, vegetables and dairy items, children will get better nutrition. Whole foods with naturally occurring sugars also provide vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants instead of empty calories.

Remember to read nutrition labels as you shop and try out new fruits and vegetables. Watch portion sizes and limit sugar sweetened beverages. Why not get your entire family on the healthy eating bandwagon for a healthier future?

Additional Resources

The New and Improved Nutrition Facts Label – Key Changes

AHA Statement on Added Sugar Consumption by Children

Diabetes Rates Rise Among Children and Teens


Six Best and Worst Foods for Asthmatics

Lisa Feierstein Allergies, Asthma, Breathe EZ, Children's Health, Men's Health, Women's Health Leave a comment   , , , ,

fruitAsthma is a challenging, but very treatable illness. There are many medications and tools available to help relieve symptoms. Did you know that asthma prevention can start in your kitchen? Not all foods are created equal. What foods might be best for asthmatics? There are even healthy foods that may worsen your asthma symptoms.

Foods That May Improve Asthma Symptoms and Support Your Respiratory System

1. Apples – these contain flavonoids such as khellin, which has been shown to open the airways.
2. Cantaloupe – these are rich in Vitamin C, which we already know is good for our immune system. This vitamin aids in clearing out congestion in the airways.
3. Carrots – these contain beta-carotene, which is an antioxidant that is converted to Vitamin A. This vitamin can reduce the possibility of exercise-induced asthma.
4. Coffee – Coffee is a natural source of caffeine, which has been proven to improve airflow. On the other hand, caffeine (especially in high doses like that found in coffee) is not recommended for children for various reasons.
5. Flax seeds – these are rich in Omega-3s, which research has found to be beneficial to asthma. They also contain magnesium which relaxes the muscles surrounding the bronchi and airways, keeping them open.
6. Garlic – Garlic is an anti-inflammatory. Anti-inflammatories are beneficial to asthma because they reduce swelling and mucus production in the airways.

Potential Allergens and Intolerances That May Worsen Asthma

1. Eggs – Because many people already suffer from an egg allergy, the reaction when consuming eggs can be in the form of exacerbated asthma.
2. Peanuts – Another common allergen. Severe reactions can be fatal. Those with a peanut allergy can actually develop asthma.
3. Salt – Salt contributes to inflammation by causing fluid retention.
4. Shellfish – Yet another common allergen, particularly in children.
5. Wine – Studies suggest that the sulfites in wine may trigger asthma attacks. On the other hand, red wine has been found to lessen symptoms if consumed in moderation.
6. Milk – If you are lactose intolerant or have any other dairy-related allergy, consuming milk products can cause wheezing, coughing, and other respiratory problems. On the other hand, milk contains Vitamin D, which can ease symptoms.

We hope that this information has given you some food for thought. Ask your doctor if dietary changes could be included as a part of your asthma management plan. He or she may also be able to test you for food-related allergies that might be exacerbating your symptoms.

Additional Resources

Read our blog on How to Manage Food Allergies During the Holidays

Check out the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America’s great online resource for kids with food allergies.


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