It’s the holiday that centers around food more than any other—and that can create a lot of anxiety for parents of children with type 1 diabetes. But it doesn’t mean you and your child can’t enjoy Thanksgiving dinner. Help make this fourth Thursday in November a happy and healthy one by following these food do’s and don’ts, courtesy of registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator Marlisa Brown and juvenile diabetes expert Jennifer Miller, M.D., a pediatric endocrinologist at La Rabida Children’s Hospital in Chicago, Illinois.


– Consult with your registered dietitian, certified diabetes educator, or doctor before Thanksgiving for guidelines and pointers.

– Call your host and find out what you’ll be eating in order to plan for it. You can also ask for recipes to help you count the carbs beforehand.

– Test your child’s blood sugar before and two hours after eating.

– Fill your child’s plate with non-starchy veggies, salad, and turkey first, then add in just enough carb-rich foods, such as potatoes, fruit, and dessert, to meet the suggestions of your registered dietitian.

– Remember that while there’s no specific food your child has to avoid, like all of us, he or she should eat in moderation.

– Adjust the insulin dose to cover the specific dishes your child eats.

– Bring glucose tablets or juice boxes just in case the meal gets delayed and your child has a low blood sugar reading.


– Skip breakfast in anticipation of a big meal.

– Skip testing blood sugar or giving insulin because lots of people are around.

– Go overboard. If there are four desserts, it’s better for your child to take a small piece of two than huge servings of all of them.

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.

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