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Home > Wellness Resources > Health Library > Diabetes in Children: Counting Carbs
counting is a skill that can help you and your child plan his or her meals to
diabetes and control blood sugar. Carbohydrate
counting also can allow your child to eat a variety of foods, just like other
kids, and to increase his or her sense of control and confidence in managing
When you and your child know how much carbohydrate is in
food, you can spread it throughout the day and control portion sizes. This
helps to keep your child's blood sugar in his or her target range after meals.
High blood sugar can make your child feel tired and thirsty and, over time, can
damage many body organs and tissues.
is the recommended method of meal planning for people who have diabetes. It
involves adding up the amount of carbohydrate in the foods you eat. Spreading
carbohydrate evenly throughout the day helps prevent high blood sugar after
eating, because carbohydrate affects blood sugar more than other nutrients.
Within 2 hours after a person eats any kind of carbohydrate, most of it has
changed to blood sugar. Foods that contain carbohydrate include:
Foods that contain sugar usually have more total
carbohydrate in a serving than foods that contain starch. Contrary to what you
may have heard, your child can eat foods that contain sugar, such as cookies.
But if foods that are high in sugar make up a large part of your child's
meals and snacks, he or she is probably getting too much carbohydrate and is
not eating enough of other, more nutritious foods.
Carbohydrate counting helps you know how much
carbohydrate your child is eating during a meal.
helps you know how much carbohydrate your child is eating
during a meal. Carbohydrate counting allows you to spread the amount your child
eats throughout the day to prevent high blood sugar after meals.
Carbohydrate counting does help you know how
much carbohydrate your child is eating during a meal. Carbohydrate counting
allows you to spread the amount your child eats throughout the day to prevent
high blood sugar after meals.
Which of these foods contain
Wheat bread, rice, peas, and oatmeal all
contain starch, a form of carbohydrate.
Cheesecake, fat-free milk, and pears all
contain sugar, a form of carbohydrate.
Continue to Why?
helps you know how much carbohydrate your child is eating during a meal or
snack. Knowing this gives you a more accurate estimate of how much his or her blood sugar
will rise after eating. The more carbohydrate he or she eats at one time, the
higher the blood sugar level will rise. Carbohydrate counting also helps
your child's carbohydrates throughout the day will help keep his or her blood
sugar levels within a target range, preventing low or high blood sugar. Both low
and high blood sugar levels can cause emergency situations. Over time, high
blood sugar levels can damage many body tissues and organs.
For more information on
carbohydrate counting when using insulin, see:
Carbohydrate counting will make it easy for you to
work in something sweet for your child on holidays.
Carbohydrate counting will make it easy for you
to work in something sweet for your child on holidays. You can substitute a
piece of cake for a serving of other carbohydrate food in your child's meal
Continue to How?
Here are some ways
to help you and your child count the carbohydrate content of his or her food
and spread the amount throughout the day. Your child will have the best chance
of success if you and other members of the family also eat a variety of healthy foods.
It is a good idea to measure out food portions when you first start carb counting.
Measuring out food portions can help you more accurately estimate the amount of carbohydrate in your meals.
Continue to Where?
Now that you have read this
information, you are ready to plan regular meals and snacks and calculate the
amount of carbohydrate in your child's diet.
If you have questions about this
information, take it with you and discuss it with your child's doctor. You may
want to mark areas or make notes in the margins of the pages where you have
If you and your child need help with carbohydrate
counting or meal planning, ask to speak with a registered dietitian or
certified diabetes educator. If you have been keeping a food diary for your
child, take it with you when you visit the diabetes educator or registered
If you would like more information on diabetes, the
following resources are available:
The American Diabetes Association (ADA) is a national organization
for health professionals and consumers. Almost every state has a local office.
ADA sets the standards for the care of people with diabetes. Its focus is on
research for the prevention and treatment of all types of diabetes. ADA
provides patient and professional education mainly through its publications,
which include the monthly magazine Diabetes Forecast,
books, brochures, cookbooks and meal planning guides, and pamphlets. ADA also
provides information for parents about caring for a child with diabetes.
More information about diabetes in children can be found
in these topics:
Return to topic:
January 23, 2012
John Pope, MD - Pediatrics & Stephen LaFranchi, MD - Pediatrics, Pediatric Endocrinology
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