Should I Put Myself or My Child on a Low-Carb Diet?
I was asked this question recently about diabetes and the low-carb diet. And while I do not give medical advice, I share my experiences and I have opinions on this.
For us, as a family and managing my son’s Type 1 Diabetes, we do not take a strict low-carb approach. We eat healthy and try to approach everything in moderation.
We do approach many things with an “as low-carb as possible” mentality, but with a son who was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at 20 months old, and as instructed by our initial pediatric endocrinologist who is a leader in his field, we take the approach of “Child First. Diabetes Second.”
The Low-Carb Diet is Not Always Necessary in Diabetes
The approach of restricting a child’s diet is difficult for me, unless there is a condition like celiac where they cannot eat wheat or gluten.
I do believe in educating children to make healthy choices. Diabetes or not, everyone should grow up learning about healthy choices and what will fuel their body to achieve their best health.
Our Approach to Carbohydrates in Food
I cook a lot of low-carb meals, and as a family we do not eat too much high-carb stuff anyway. Even without Type 1 in our lives we were already eating healthy, and not too differently to the way we eat now.
Restricting Carbohydrates May Restrict Education and Intuition
For us, exposing my son to different types of food since he was diagnosed at 20 months old has worked well. And now that he is older I am coaching him through how he feels and what he sees on his Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM) screen when he eats various things.
For example, he wanted a hamburger and fries a few weeks ago – not something we eat often. He insisted on getting two sliders, which are already big enough in single serving sizes. After lunch he felt awful.
For him, too much carbohydrate and fat combined is hard to digest when you’ve been eating healthy foods 80–90% of the time. And in our experience, this circumstance can give him a higher insulin resistance than usual.
While his BG spiked afterwards, I did not get upset. Instead, I asked him how he was physically feeling. He admitted he did not feel so great.
Use Diet and Lived Experience to Educate Your Child
It does not happen every day that I have this beautiful teaching moment, but I try to take a deep breath through all my diabetes rage and remember that it is my job to give him all the tools he needs in order to be a successful adult. This includes making conscious food choices.
The Social Impact of Food Choices
I also think that socially, it is really challenging for a child to eat something different than their peers – especially when there is a party. Now, we do not have celiac in our lives, so that is a different story. But I’ve just learned how to deal with these situations and then teach Erin how to try and manage them as well.
Choose the Diabetes-Friendly Eating Style That Works For YOU
I do not think it’s necessarily bad or unwise to follow a low-carb diet or other diets that claim to be the healthiest for diabetes, but I don’t think the strict approach is the complete answer for us.
Learn about the different diets out there and ask your doctor or diabetes team which one is best for you and your type of diabetes!
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