Food away from home

You may be concerned when your child is away from home – will they eat enough carbohydrate so they don’t have a hypo?

Teaching your child about carbohydrate foods and quantities they need to eat is important. Extra fats or sugars occasionally are not going to be harmful in the long term.

Encouraging them to make their own decisions about how much they need to eat at meals at home is a good place to start. With this confidence they may deal with other situations more easily.

Making carbohydrate choices at meal times should not be difficult – offer selections from potato, corn, sweet potato, rice, pasta or bread. Desserts can also be nutritious and offer another carbohydrate alternative -try fruit or dairy based desserts such as fruit salad, yoghurt, banana split, custard or canned fruit.

Allowing your child to join in outings, sleep-overs and camps helps them to learn to share responsibility for their diabetes. Older school-age children are often ready to do more of their diabetes care, such as making their own food choices, assisting with cooking meals and even reading food labels.

Fast food

At some time, either during a school outing or after school, your child will be exposed to fast foods. Takeaway outlets offer a variety of foods that are fast, fun and definitely appealing to children.

Many of these foods are high in fat and salt and lack fibre; however they can be enjoyed from time to time. The type and amount of carbohydrate and fat are important considerations. Better choices are:

  • Sushi rolls
  • A baked potato with low fat fillings
  • A wrap – filled with lean meat and salad
  • BBQ chicken roll (skip the skin)
  • Regular burger with salad
  • Doner kebab and salad
  • Toasted sandwiches or focaccia
  • Grilled fish and small serve chips
  • Asian stir-fry or noodle dishes
  • Burritos
  • Vegetable based pizzas

Encourage your child to avoid sugary drinks like soft drink or fruit drinks (unless they are having a hypo) and choose plain water as the best everyday drink. Diet soft drink or diet cordial is also suitable occasionally.

Parties

Rule no. 1 is – have fun!

Your child should be allowed to enjoy the foods offered at the party, including snack foods and birthday cake like other children. It’s helpful if teachers can inform parents in advance of special parties so they are aware of the cause of a possible rise in their child’s BGLs.

If your child needs to take a plate for a party at school, here’s some great party food ideas which can be enjoyed by everyone:

  • Fairy bread
  • Mini pizzas
  • Potato wedges
  • Pretzels
  • Low joule jelly cups
  • Mini muffins
  • Dips and crackers
  • Popcorn
  • Ribbon sandwiches
  • Diet soft drink
  • Pikelets
  • Fruit kebabs

Planning a day out

It may be useful to work out a checklist with your child as a reminder of what to take with them when they go out to a school outing or stay over at a friend’s home. A checklist stuck to the fridge or a cork board is helpful.

The checklist should include the following:

  • Hypo food – quickly absorbed carbohydrates – eg juice, jelly beans, sugar sachets and follow up carbohydrates – eg crackers, biscuits, dried fruit
  • Extra carbohydrate snacks
  • Insulin
  • Syringe or pen
  • Blood glucose meter and test strips
  • Tissues
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