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Diabetes in children: the diabetic diet
DIABETES IN CHILDREN: THE DIABETIC DIET
Why is a diet necessary?
Children in good health and without diabetes, who are provided with plenty of good food, tend to eat enough to satisfy the needs of their body to maintain their good health and to grow properly. Appetite (or a feeling of hunger) and satiety (or the feeling of having 'had enough') operate to ensure that the body's needs are met by determining the amount of food taken at meals. The mechanisms which control appetite and satiety are complex and not fully understood, and if a child has an excess of some foods at one time he tends to compensate for this by eating less at other times.
Appetite may be erratic
Appetite, particularly in children, is not always directly related to the immediate needs of the body. Perhaps pocket money and a visit to the milk bar - or a particularly nice pudding or cake or a party may lead to an excessive intake of carbohydrate on some occasions, while an unpopular dish or an illness may lead to an inadequate intake on other occasions.
The body copes with irregularities of eating in this way by storing the excess foods and using these stores at other times. To do this, insulin is produced by the pancreas to match the intake of food and to allow its storage, as one of the functions of insulin is to store energy, mainly as fat, in the tissues of the body.
The person with diabetes cannot cope with a varying food intake
In diabetes the pancreas cannot meet the needs of the body in this way and it is seldom convenient or possible to judge the varying amounts of insulin, perhaps several times a day, needed to cope with a varying food intake.
Food must be regular
So it is that children with diabetes need a regular amount of food each day. Naturally appetite will still determine the basic amount of food to be taken, and naturally it is important that a child's healthy hunger is satisfied. However eating binges and large quantities of concentrated carbohydrates are no longer possible but could lead to a return of the illness, due to diabetes.
A diet keeps meals regular
In fact it is generally felt that the safest way to provide a child with diabetes with regular quantities of food is to work out a definite diet programme so that we can be sure that the needs of the body are met and the daily insulin injections are balanced with the correct amount of carbohydrate foods.
A diet is designed to suit the needs of the child The dietitian will judge the diet, taking several factors into account. The most important factor is your child's appetite - if he has a big appetite and likes plenty of food then (provided he is not getting fat) presumably he needs the food, and the diet must supply it.
Another important factor is knowledge of the basic needs of children of varying ages for growth. Clearly, we want your child to have plenty of food for him to grow properly.
Likes and dislikes, family customs, and family preferences for certain foods or cooking are also important, and are taken into account.
Meals must be regular in quantity and time
In addition to regulating the meals in quantity and type of food, it is also necessary to have them at regular times. These meal times can be adjusted to suit the family, and school or work hours, but they should be at the same time each day.
|Keywords for this page: Diabetes in children: the diabetic diet