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December 4, 2006

Insulin, Meal Planning, Food and Diet

Question from Los Angeles, California, USA:

I just spent the weekend with my 14 year old niece who has type 1 diabetes and I was astonished at the amount of sugar she eats. I asked her about it, saying that of the other diabetics I know limit their sugar intake. She replied that as long as she gives herself the right amount of insulin, it's okay. She is clearly addicted to sugar and craves it, and noshes on sweets (chocolate, chocolate covered pretzels, hot chocolate, lemon bars, diet soda) all day long. This cannot be good for her. Is it true that she can continue to eat sweets with abandon and suffer no health consequences?

Answer:

It sounds like your niece has an eating problem. She is partially correct that we have changed in recent years to a carbohydrate counting program rather than severe sugar restrictions. Balancing food intake and counting carbohydrates – and delivering appropriate insulin in response – are key to the successful management of diabetes. However, the excess of simple sugars and high fats is likely to create havoc with glucose control and perhaps also with excess weight gain as well.

SB