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August 21, 2003

Meal Planning, Food and Diet

Question from Aleigh, North Carolina, USA:

I am a little confused with food choices and times. My child has a carb allotment for each meal and snack, and I have heard that it doesn't really matter what you eat as long as it fits in with the meal allotment. The exceptions are things like cookies, cakes, pies, candy which are to be eaten within the allotment but just once or twice per week. However, lets say that my child may want grapes for a snack, and the grapes are mostly sugar is it okay to eat just grapes or must you have cheese with them also to counter act the sugar? I know it is okay to pack grapes with lunch but didn't know if it is okay to eat only grapes if you are not running low. How about pop tarts? Since they contain sugar are they considered ok or a sweet like cookies? We try to stick to peanut butter crackers, popcorn, pretzels or sugar free items for snacks, but I was just wondering if it's okay to just keep food within the carb count for that meal or snack or is it necessary to stay clear from some things altogether.

Answer:

You ask a very good question. Many mothers who have kids with diabetes struggle with this meal planning dilemma — yes, a carb is a carb no matter its source, but only a small amount of carbohydrate should come from sweets and other carbohydrates (cakes, pies, cookies, etc.). Meal planning is more liberalized nowadays, but good nutrition still includes a majority of carb choices from starches, fruits, milk, etc. Most sweets include saturated fats which are not as healthy as other carb choices.

The important idea in meal planning today is to spread carb choices out during the day and include healthy carbs with appropriate lean protein choices. Use the sweets as treats in moderation and take something else out of the meal plan to accommodate the occasional sweet.

JMS