Children’s parties haven’t been a common activity lately, meaning your child’s sugar intake can be more carefully monitored at home. But with restrictions easing, allowing for more outdoor activities, your child might be socializing a little more in the near future. And while we always want the best for our children, allowing them to socialize, have fun and eat sweets, it can also be a worrying time when your child’s nutrition plays a significant role in the overall management of their diabetes.
Diabetes Ireland wants to give parents and party hosts the dietary information they need when dealing with diabetes in children.
If one child is having a fizzy drink, the other shouldn’t just have to settle for water. According to the Diabetes Ireland website, a good alternative to fizzy drinks is, 'Sugar-free or diet fizzy drinks and squashes. Pure fruit juice in small amounts, at mealtimes only'.
Sinead Powell, Senior dietitian and Regional Development Officer with Diabetes Ireland said, "A child’s birthday is one of the highlights of their year and it’s very important that a child with diabetes can enjoy the party as much as everyone else.
Most children’s parties take place in the afternoon and the party food can replace the usual mid-afternoon snack. Although it is important not to eat sweet foods regularly you can have sweets occasionally.
However, if your child is being invited to parties on what seems like a weekly occasion it may be a good idea to teach them to make better choices.
Encourage your child to try half savoury and half sweet foods. Activity levels and excitement will be high and this can often compensate for the increased sugar intake”.
“Encourage the host to provide savoury snacks and low-sugar or diet drinks for everyone. With all the excitement and activity of a party, the blood sugar levels may also drop and the child could end up having a hypo. You should let the party’s host know that your child has diabetes and how to recognise and treat a hypo should it occur.” she said.
Diabetes Ireland also recommends providing savoury rather than sweet foods as much as possible. But this isn’t easy, especially when the cake comes out! You can help your child work the treats into his/her eating plan by setting limits and sticking to them with small slices of birthday cake, queen cakes, fun-size chocolate bars, ice-cream and sugar free-jelly, fruit slices, and grapes.
While some understandably may think that Diabetic chocolate is suitable for those with diabetes it’s not recommended. They are expensive and unnecessary. Diabetic chocolate contains fructose, sorbitol or a similar sweetener which can have a laxative effect. Diabetic chocolate is also just as high in fat and calories as ordinary chocolate, and can still raise blood glucose levels.
For over fifty years Diabetes Ireland has dedicated its charity to providing education, support, motivation, and raising public awareness about diabetes and its symptoms. It also funds research with the aim of one day finding a cure.
See www.diabetes.ie if you have any questions around managing hypos or any of the issues raised in this article or contact Diabetes Ireland on 01 8428118.