When James was first diagnosed, we found that our diet actually worsened a little bit at the very beginning. You see, we found immediately that counting carbs on something that is packaged and labeled was a lot easier than trying to figure out the carbs in a baked potato, homemade pasta dish or even that apple or pear! So while we tried to avoid the most unhealthy dishes, we ate a lot more processed food than we had previously.
After we got a little bit more experience under our belt, we became more comfortable judging the carb content of our very favorite foods and dishes, and our nutrition improved a little bit. We started out with a carb-counting book, a food scale and measuring cups. Now, after a few years into this thing, I don’t even have the carb-counting book anymore (although I do consult the Internet on occasion), and while I still use the scale and measuring cups, I am no longer so reliant upon them.
I’m also more laid back about trying more adventurous and difficult-to-gauge foods. Combo dishes, casseroles and, particularly, things from restaurants are generally difficult to count. Even as a veteran, I often find that after such meals, his blood glucose number is not ideal. We’ve found, though, that for us the relative pleasure in partaking of these homemade delights or restaurant fare (since we only occasionally get the opportunity to eat out) outweighs the potential negative effects on blood sugar.
Which is why one of my favorite things to do when anticipating a special event — a holiday, social occasion or family gathering — is to prepare or bring a dish that I know I can do well, for which the carb count is really easy! As such, I’ve developed a love for cooking and baking. Sugar cookies are usually not a very healthy food, but on Valentine’s Day, James loves to eat them, and they can almost always be found somewhere. I find that if I make them myself, know the ingredients, and weigh them on my scale ahead of time, I can keep his blood sugar in a much better range!
Better yet are recipes that are still delectable and fun, but made with healthier ingredients — muffins, breads, and even popcorn. (For lots of great recipes from the same people who bring you this site, ask your healthcare provider for a free copy of Dishing It Up Disney Style: A Cookbook for Families with Type 1 Diabetes.) I can manage his nutrition and his blood sugar and still allow him to have fun at the event! Another added bonus is that as we develop, test and eat these holiday recipes through the years, we build fun family traditions that the kids really seem to enjoy. Happiness really is knowing your foods!
Disclaimer: The experiences and suggestions recounted in these articles are not intended as medical advice, and they are not necessarily the “typical” experiences of families with a child who has type 1 diabetes. These situations are unique to the families depicted. Families should check with their healthcare professionals regarding the treatment of type 1 diabetes and the frequency of blood glucose monitoring. Jen and Kim are real moms of kids with type 1 diabetes and have been compensated for their contributions to this site.