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December 18, 1999

Meal Planning, Food and Diet

Question from Wichita, Kansas, USA:

My grandson started to show signs of diabetes by 3 years of age. We took him to the diabetic specialist. I too am a diabetic, over 30 years now. And after the consultation and test he was diagnosed as being hypoglycemic. Instructions were to watch his diet and see that he eats enough. We face many problems: he does not want to eat and also his father nags him about his diet to the point of rebellion, I am sure. His blood sugars were so low today it would not even register and I at that time told my daughter time for blood sugar: she did it and gave him orange juice and I then suggested milk and peanut butter and followup with a snack. The problem is how to approach the father on his attitude and needless to say get the boy to eat right.

Answer:

It is not clear from your question whether your grandson has diabetes, takes insulin, or has another illness that causes hypoglycemia. Following up with his medical team to insure an accurate diagnosis is the first and most important step in addressing your concerns.

Your grandson is very lucky to have you as his grandmother. It is clear that you are concerned about his health and safety. The most important thing that you can do to help him is to make sure that both of his parents meet with a pediatric diabetes team as soon as possible. You can call your local ADA or JDF office to find the location of the nearest pediatric diabetes team. Your grandson’s parents need a lot of education and support right now. Scheduling the education sessions may require that the parents take a day or two off from work, but that time is well-worth it, and vital for your grandson’s health.

In addition, there are two books that might be helpful to your family; Sweet Kids: How to Balance Diabetes Control & Good Nutrition with Family Peace by Betty Brackenridge & Richard Rubin and The Ten Keys to Helping Your Child Grow Up With Diabetes by Tim Wysocki, Ph.D.

JWB
Additional comments from Lois Schmidt Finney, diabetes dietitian:

You have a challenge here. I think some low-key counseling might be very beneficial. The treatment of hypoglycemia/hypoglycemia-like symptoms is somewhat controversial, but this is what we try to do: We usually suggest that folks with hypoglycemia eat 6 small meals/day with some protein at each meal/snack. So, giving the peanut butter and crackers is a great idea. Try not to give any concentrated sweets by themselves since then his body may respond with too much insulin and then his blood glucose will go even lower. Hope that helps, but I do think some time of talking this over between the parents would be very helpful so they are together on this.

LSF