Teaching children with diabetes about adequate dietary choices.
Sommaire de l'article
Recent recommendations by the American Diabetes Association suggest that children with type 1 diabetes should follow the recommendations for age, sex and body size of the general population. In the case of being overweight or obese, weight-control strategies should be applied. Adherence to recommendations should be pursued by continuous nutritional education that should start at the onset of diabetes and maintained by means of nutritional counselling to the family. The second main target of nutritional intervention is to encourage a reproducible daily meal plan that can be maintained by acquiring good habits when making nutritional choices. Finally, children and parents should be taught how to count carbohydrates, which would help them manage exceptions in their daily meal plan. Specifically, nutritional recommendations for children with diabetes focus on limiting the intake of foods of animal origin (red meat, cheese, cold cuts), moderating fat intake and promoting the intake of foods that naturally contain fibre (mainly vegetables, legumes, fruit). There are two at-risk periods in the lives of children when nutritional education procedures as well as diabetes care in general are less likely to be effective: early years of life and adolescence. In the case of very young children, new behavioural-based intervention strategies to help parents improve mealtimes could be useful in teaching diabetic children to learn to follow a structured eating schedule, which is desirable for long-lasting efficacy in diabetes care. In adolescents, eating disorders and insulin misuse for weight control purposes are concrete and difficult problems to deal with. A good balance between eating for pleasure and maintaining one's health is a challenge for anyone. Appropriate nutritional education helps children with diabetes to find this balance and enjoy a better quality of life.