November 26, 1999
Meal Planning, Food and Diet
Question from Bayonne, New Jersey, USA:
My daughter is 8 years old and has had diabetes for 6 years. She eats sweetened cereal almost every morning. Is this bad for her? People tell me she shouldn’t eat it ever. I think it’s okay.
As long as your daughter is taking the right amount of insulin to match the cereal she’s eating, there is nothing wrong with her eating “sugar cereal.” For overall health, she needs a wide variety of foods, of course. But as long as the combination contains the nutrients she needs, I wouldn’t be too worried about her preferred cereal. It will probably change one of these days anyway. The way to tell if the “sugar cereal” is being managed alright is to test her blood sugar an hour or two after eating. If her blood sugar is less than 180 mg/dl, she has enough insulin to handle the sugar and starch in her cereal. If her sugars usually run higher than that, the amount, type or timing of the insulin covering her breakfast meal may need to be adjusted. It is the total amount of carbohydrate in the cereal she actually eats that determines her need for insulin. And it’s not only so-called “sugar cereals” that contain hefty amounts of carbohydrate. So do plain or “adult” cereals.
There used to be a great deal of attention put on limiting sugar in the diets of people with diabetes. We now understand that all foods can raise blood sugar if they are not matched in amount and timing with insulin.
Don’t worry too much about the “diabetes police” who try to give well-meaning advice when they don’t have all the facts. As long as you and your daughter are getting along, her blood sugars are in control, and diabetes is not making a shambles of everyday life at your house — you’re doing great.