Eat Healthy, No Matter What!
Everyone tells you to eat healthy. And you do watch what you eat. But sometimes it’s not so easy. Friends want to eat out. You’re in a hurry. You want to have what everyone else is having. Yes, there are going to be lots of tasty, tempting obstacles in your way, but there are always ways to make the smartest food choices possible, no matter what is happening around you. True, sometimes your choices are more limited than others, but with the proper planning and some shopping smarts, you can keep your meal plan on track.
Shop healthy, shop smart
Putting your healthy meal plan into action starts with your shopping list. Planning ahead before heading to the grocery store is 1 way to keep your focus on the healthy ingredients that matter. But even with the best list, there are still plenty of decisions to be made in the aisles.
Every food item you compare to any other is an opportunity to make a healthy food decision. If you aren’t currently involved in doing the grocery shopping for your household, now would be a great time to join in and help with the meal planning. Smart shopping is a life skill that can help anyone, whether you have type 1 diabetes or not.
For some expert food shopping tips from registered dietitian Lourdes Castro, see the video on the right side of this page, "Get Supermarket Smarts."
Whether you bring a packed lunch or a eat a cooked school lunch, you should try to eat a healthy balanced meal. If you need help choosing your foods or working out your insulin doses, your school nurse and other knowledgeable adults should be able to help you.
If you have a packed lunch, your parents may tell you how much insulin you need for the food you have in your lunch box or bag. If you can’t eat it all, take home your leftovers so your parents know what you have actually eaten.
If you have a cooked school lunch, you or your parents may request menus in advance. It might be fun to sit down with your parents (or other caregivers) and figure out carb counts together. That way, you can learn how to do it, too.
Sticking to a healthy meal plan in special situations
You may feel anxious about eating in restaurants because you cannot always be sure how quickly the meal will be served or of its carbohydrate content. There is no harm in not being 100% accurate all of the time. Going out for a meal is a special occasion, and you should be able to relax and enjoy yourself. Some restaurants will provide nutritional information if you ask them, and a number of them even show this information on their websites.
Having diabetes doesn’t mean you can’t go to parties and enjoy yourself. You will still be able to have some cake and sweets, as long as you don’t overdo it. If you are playing games and running around at the party, it may help burn off some sugar too! It’s okay to treat yourself now and then, but you should always test your blood sugar levels before and right after the party, at bedtime, and when you wake up the next morning. You may need to adjust your insulin dose to help keep the balance. Make sure you tell an adult if you feel unwell at the party.
If you are of legal age to drink and there’s alcohol at the party, think before you drink. If you are taking insulin, it may not be a good idea to drink because of the risk of low blood sugar. And you should also check the patient information for your insulin. If it says “do not drink alcohol,” it’s safest to follow those instructions. If you feel that you must drink, get advice from your diabetes care team beforehand.
Learn more about how alcohol affects blood sugar here.
When you stay over at a friend’s house, you will need to plan ahead. Make sure you have everything you need to manage your diabetes. You should tell the people you are staying with about your diabetes and how to manage low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) if it occurs. If you need any help with testing your blood or injecting your insulin, your friend’s parents may need to be shown what to do.