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February 8, 2001

Weight and Weight Loss

Question from Manistee, Michigan, USA:

My 12 daughter, diagnosed with type�1 diabetes three years ago, has gained too much weight and now her doctor has put her on a 1600 calorie diet. I would like to know where I can get a menu because the dietitian told us that she does not make up menus for anyone.


Hopefully the dietitian’s response was more from the viewpoint that each person with diabetes needs individualized meal planning and the idea that there is a “standardized diabetic diet” is discouraged nowadays. Please look at contacting a diabetes dietitian who should be able to guide you with regard to food ideas and portion sizes that will assist with weight loss. Hopefully, your daughter is also getting regular exercise to assist with weight loss. Once you know the amounts of carbs, protein, and fat to incorporate into a 1600 calorie a day diet, the Exchange Lists for Meal Planning booklet, available from the American Diabetes Association is an excellent resource for portions.

Additional comments from Betty Brackenridge, diabetes dietitian:

It’s also possible that the dietitian you first contacted truly does not give calorie controlled diets. This is another approach to diabetes food management. Diets are temporary tools at best and their restrictive nature leads to reactive, uncontrolled eating in some kids (hoarding food, trading foods with classmates, and so on). Some health professionals now prefer to work on an individual basis, reviewing food choices, blood sugar values and other factors to arrive at a healthy and satisfying food pattern based on personal outcomes rather than a standard meal plan or pattern. Weight gain at this age could be the rather normal pre-puberty rounding out in preparation for more linear growth. It could also be related to having low blood sugars frequently that need to be treated with extra food. If your daughter has gained significant weight, it’s important that her blood sugar patterns and insulin doses be reviewed in concert with her food choices. This is equally true whether she is following a defined meal plan or not.