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From Bellefontaine, Ohio, USA:

My 5 year old niece was diagnosed with diabetes 5 months ago. My mother is taking care of her because her 3 year old brother has leukemia and is getting ready for his transplant. My mother would like to know if there is a time limit on how long she has to eat her lunch and supper.


Young children, including children with diabetes, have many issues at the dinner table! When there is stress in the family, food issues can become heightened. My advice would be to try to minimize food battles wherever possible. Try to offer her foods (within reason) that you know she will eat, and encourage her to eat "most" of the food, especially the carbohydrate containing foods. If you are concerned about low blood sugar, you can always check her blood sugar. Try not to offer her "junk" foods or sweets instead of her meals because you are afraid she will go low. Try not to "bribe" her to eat. You could offer her something such as milk, which has carbohydrate, protein, and some fat if she has not eaten well and you feel she needs more. Take a matter of fact attitude, and understand that this is an incredibly stressful time for the whole family. Talk to her diabetes team for more specifics about her care.

I would recommend the book: Sweet Kids: How to Balance Diabetes Control & Good Nutrition with Family Peace by Betty Brackenridge & Richard Rubin, available from from or the American Diabetes Association by calling 1-800-232-6733.


Additional Comments from Joyce Mosiman, diabetes dietitian:

Children this age sometimes respond to choices, but not too many choices. For example: offer her a choice between two items, such as the hamburger you are fixing for the family or peanut butter sandwich, milk or juice, peas or potatoes etc. Involving the child in some of the simple food preparation can sometimes be an incentive to eat what is being served. She may be feeling a bit left out with all of the stress of the illness of her sibling and would appreciate being allowed to help choose some of the foods that she would like to eat. The key again is not to offer more than two choices as it is easy to become a short-order cook in this situation.


Original posting 16 Dec 97


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Last Updated: Tuesday April 06, 2010 15:08:56
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