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January 12, 2015

Insulin Pumps, Meal Planning, Food and Diet

Question from Springfield, Tennessee, USA:

If a child has type 1 diabetes and on an insulin pump, would they be on an unrestricted diet, meaning that they can eat anything in any quantity and not have complications?

Answer:

A child with type 1 diabetes on an insulin pump would work with their health team to come up with the best nutrition for that child, taking into account stage of growth, eating patterns and likes/dislikes, activity level and striving for an overall general healthy diet. They would be able to have flexibility in the foods that they eat and would learn to understand how different foods affect blood sugar levels. Carbohydrates affect the glucose the most, and most people would learn to adjust their insulin dose based on the content of the food, their current blood sugar level and upcoming and recent exercise patterns. Monitoring glucose with fingerstick blood sugars (and trends in continuous glucose monitoring) gives the feedback needed and information to decide on the current insulin dose needed and to assess their overall glucose levels.

At first, it can seem like a lot to learn, but after a little while it becomes a routine. The insulin pump dosing (or multiple daily insulin injections) gives flexibility compared to previous years when a more rigid schedule and amount of food was “prescribed for” a person with diabetes. As with everything in life, moderation is the key, and overdoing the eating and subsequent insulin dosing have their effects.

LM