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From California, USA:

My 13 year son was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes about 6 months ago. I need ideas on what are "free foods" and what determines them as "free foods."


With a 13-year old boy, it's surely important to know the effects of all the foods he needs to eat to keep up with his appetite! "Free foods" can help under certain circumstances. By definition, "free foods" in the diabetes food exchange system are foods that contain less than 20 calories per serving. For some of these foods (like bullion, sugar-free gelatin and diet soft drinks) there is no serving size indicated. These are foods that are almost without food value. Your son can eat, slurp and gobble up as much as he likes without affecting his blood sugar.

There are other "free foods" (like sugar-free jam and catsup) that do have a serving size. The idea with these is that your son can eat up to three servings of these foods in a day without having to count them. If he ate more, especially at one time, you'd probably see a change in blood sugar because they contain a certain amount of calories and carbs.

As you and your son build the skills to keep his food and insulin in balance, remember this: his total need for food is not determined by his diabetes or his insulin dose. He needs the same nutrition -- calories, vitamins, minerals, etc. -- that he would if he didn't have diabetes. He needs it to grow normally. If he's hungry a lot when his blood sugars are in reasonable control, he probably just needs to eat more. "Free foods" won't help in this situation because they don't have the calories and nutrition he needs. Ask your dietitian or diabetes educator for specific advice about how to keep his insulin in balance with his increasing nutritional needs as he grows.


Original posting 21 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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