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March 12, 2002

Meal Planning, Food and Diet

Question from Schenectady, New York, USA:

I am a volunteer with the Big Brothers/Big Sister Organization, and my Little Sister, who is 10 years old has type�1 diabetes, but I'm getting what I consider inadequate information from her mom regarding how many carbohydrates she should have during a day. Mom is saying that she can eat anything other than sweets, and I know from my reading and research that carbs are very important. As I spend more time with my Little Sister, including all day and overnight, I am concerned that I won't give her an appropriately balanced diet while she's with me. Is there a general number of carbohydrates I should aim for when planning our days together?

Answer:

Yes you are right that carbohydrates are important in diabetes meal planning, even more important than the amount of sugar. I would recommend that you ask your Little Sister if she has received/or is using a carbohydrate counting based meal plan. Most food can be worked into a diabetes meal plan, but portion sizes are still important along with getting adequate calories for growth (especially for a 10 year old). In general, the amount of carbohydrates needed varies from child to child and changes quite frequently as calorie needs change. Hopefully, your little sister has an idea of how many are worked into each meal and/or snack.

JMS

[Editor’s comment: You might ask her mom for a written copy of your Little Sister’s meal plan.

SS]