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December 1, 2000

Insulin, Meal Planning, Food and Diet

Question from Clinton, Iowa, USA:

My six year old daughter was diagnosed with type�1 diabetes four months ago. If insulin brings the sugar level down then why can't she eat whatever she wants (like candy) and just take more insulin?

Answer:

She could. However, a balance between what your daughter needs in calories and nutrients is very important for good health and growth. An occasional piece of candy or other sweet will not harm your daughter. However, when it is eaten in addition to the normal amount of foods eaten (like adults are prone to do: e.g., pie on top of a big meal) the extra calories, whether they are accommodated for by her own insulin production or if more insulin is taken to control the blood sugar level, will add extra weight. Extra weight makes insulin harder to absorb, whether she are injecting it or making it herself.

In a newly diagnosed child, who has some insulin production of their own left, highly sugared items may cause blood sugars to go down (the sugar in the blood stream stimulates the cells in the pancreas to produce some insulin). It is best to keep sugar in the top part of the pyramid: i.e., use it in small amounts. This goes for us all!

JM