If your child is diabetic or pre-diabetic, developing a menu that focuses on minimizing symptoms is essential. Diabetes is a metabolic disease that causes a variety of symptoms, the most common of which include frequent urination and excessive thirst. Because diabetes is linked directly to the types and amounts of food your child eats, diet has a profound effect on the disease.
Diabetes occurs when the amount of glucose in a person's blood is higher than normal. Glucose, which is found in carbohydrates, is a simple sugar and an integral source of energy for the body. The body regulates glucose naturally in a healthy person -- keeping blood glucose levels in check -- using the hormone insulin. With a diabetic, however, the body struggles either to make or utilize insulin properly, which can cause dangerous hikes in blood glucose levels. In order to prevent your child's blood glucose levels from rising, pay attention to the foods she eats, especially when it comes to carbohydrate-rich starches.
Starchy foods such as bread, bagels, potatoes, pasta, rice, corn and beans contain higher quantities of carbohydrates than other types of foods, like meats and leafy vegetables. However, a diabetic safe menu does not need to avoid starchy foods altogether, as these foods help your child get essential fibers, vitamins, minerals and calories that promote overall bodily health. Instead, a diabetic menu should limit the amount of starches you serve your child to one serving per meal. For example, a breakfast could include half of a small bagel, lunch could include half of a bun and dinner might include one-third of a cup of rice or pasta. For best results, always choose low-fat starches, like toast, over high-fat starches, like doughnuts.
Meat and fish are essential foods within a diabetic safe menu, as they provide your child with high quantities of protein and iron. While protein helps the body build and repair bodily tissues, including muscle, iron helps oxygenated blood circulate throughout the body. For best results, a diabetic safe menu should avoid meats that are high in saturated fat, such as red meats and breaded, fried chicken or fish. Healthy options include baked fish, skinless poultry and lean steaks or pork chops. Meat substitutes, such as those made from soy, are also diabetic safe options.
Non-Starchy Vegetables: License to Eat
Some of the best foods to include on your child's diabetic menu are non-starchy vegetables. Whether they are fresh, canned or frozen, non-starchy vegetables are excellent options because they are low in carbohydrates, low in calories and rich in vitamins and minerals. Examples include lettuce, spinach, broccoli and mushrooms.