Diabetic kids can have some healthy snacks if they follow a medical practitioner's personalized plan.

Gabriel Aybar

Q. Snack foods ingredients aren't very diabetic friendly, especially those made for kids. What are some healthy snack tips for kids with diabetes?

Q. Snack foods ingredients aren't very diabetic friendly, especially those made for kids. What are some healthy snack tips for kids with diabetes?

A. Kids and snacks just seem to go together, don't they? But before we start talking about snacking and the child you care for, let's back up a bit. As a day-care provider for a diabetic child, you have extra responsibilities.

Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • Have the diabetic child's parents provided you with her individualized meal plan developed with a registered dietitian, certified diabetes educator, or physician?
  • Do you have a medication and blood-testing schedule?
  • Does the child exercise regularly?
  • In the event of a medical emergency, do you have a response plan in place?
  • Do you have all of the emergency contact information you need?

If the parents have provided all of the above information, excellent!If the diabetic child has an individualized meal plan, suggestions for healthy snacks will be found there. The family's dietitian, certified diabetes educator, or physician should be your biggest ally in helping you ensure that the diabetic child you care for eats correctly to help control her blood sugar. If the diabetic child and her parents have not developed a meal plan with an RD or educator, you should encourage them to do so.

It is important to remember that controlling blood sugar, especially in a child's smaller body, takes more than just medication or just food. Medication (if used), what the person eats, when the person eats, how much the person eats, and the person's activity levels are all factors affecting blood sugar. Every person's body reacts differently, and that's why each person needs an individualized meal plan.

An adult with diabetes can then work within the plan, making adjustments to foods, medications, and exercise based on how his or her body is reacting. With a child, however -- especially one who is younger and may not yet understand the ramifications of controlling blood sugar -- you and the parents must be exceptionally alert in monitoring the child's food intake and activity level, and following other recommended care guidelines, such as medications. The best person to offer you advice on the diabetic child's meals and snacks is the family's registered dietitian or certified diabetes educator.

In our next issue, we'll have an article on snacks and party foods for kids. But please remember: Any food -- even recipes published in a magazine for people with diabetes -- still needs to be incorporated into a person's individualized meal plan, and that plan needs to be developed with a registered dietitian, certified diabetes educator, or physician.