Lately, I have focused a lot on my own health. I got to the point where I just wasn’t happy with how I felt. My energy levels were low, and I was pretty depressed. I finally found a program and coach that helped me make progress toward my goals, and I’ve lost 35 pounds in the last few months. I’m happy that I feel better and have the energy I need to get through my day.

But I realized that even as I was on this journey to make healthy choices for myself, I was ironically starting to make horrible food choices for my family. I was sabotaging them with easy meals and tasty treats somewhat subconsciously. I kind of went overboard preparing high-carb meals and buying the sugary snacks, because even though I wouldn’t eat it myself at the time, it was fun for me to at least be able to see my family enjoy the foods I was denying myself. It was as if I told myself, “Well, if I can’t have it, then at least someone should!” I rationalized and told myself that “they’re growing kids and they need a lot of carbs.” My oldest son is on the cross country team for his high school and runs about eight miles a day. All five of the kids are active and healthy as can be. However, I realized that I was the same way as a child and teen, and yet I’ve struggled now as an adult. I was doing them a disservice by teaching them unhealthy habits!

As a parent of a child with type 1 diabetes, I’ve always told Kaitlyn that no food is off-limits to her as long as she gives insulin for it. While I believe this may be true in the short run, eating whatever you want isn’t good for anyone. And when you throw blood sugar swings in the mix, it certainly won’t make her feel good or healthy in the short term or the long term. The more we learn about sugar and refined carbs and how they affect our insulin levels and beta cells, the more convinced I am that we really need to listen.

My goals as a mom have changed, and it has prompted us to make different goals as a family. It’s not just about being the right weight or even about having the right blood sugar number or A1c. Those can be indicators of how we’re doing, but they’re not everything. I’m more concerned with making habits of healthy choices that will stick with us for a lifetime. Our goals are simple but will take some adjustment. Here’s what we’ve come up with:

  1. Eat more protein for breakfast so that we can start the day off with good blood sugar levels. I think we’ll all feel better, especially Kaitlyn, if we focus on having something like eggs instead of cereal or a muffin.
  2. Eat more vegetables as a main part of every meal. My mother-in-law always used to say that the healthiest way to eat is to have a colorful plate. Fill that plate with colorful fruits and veggies!
  3. Replace sugary treats with healthier calories that will fuel us instead of leaving us empty. That’s not to say we can’t ever eat cookies again, but we want to make it more the exception than a regular part of our diet. We’re also trying to watch out for those seemingly healthy foods that have a whole lot more added sugar than we need, like some yogurt and fruit snacks.
  4. Drink more water. Instead of reaching for sugary or carb-y snacks, we’ll drink water first and then we might decide we don’t need the sweets so much. We’ve been lazy in the past, but we’re committing to bringing our filled water bottles to school and when we go out.

These are a few of our goals, and I’m sure you have many of your own! Good luck on your journey for creating healthy habits and happy kids!

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.

Related topics:
An Open Letter to Those Feeding My Child
Sweet Little Lies
Our Awesome New Mealtime Trick for Picky Eaters With Type 1 Diabetes

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