blood sugar

Diabetes and children’s parties

My son was just diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes and I want to know what to do about children’s parties and play dates? I don’t want him to feel ‘different’ but I also want to make sure his blood sugar won’t get out of control.” Linda van der Merwe.

Dear Linda,

I’m not sure how old your son is, but diabetes at any age can be difficult. Rest assured, what seems overwhelming now will eventually become routine.

Diabetes affects a child’s emotions, and badly controlled blood sugar can make diabetics feel irritable. If your son forgets to take insulin for a piece of cake at a birthday party, for example, he could end up fighting with his friends. Talk to him about the kind of food that will be at the party and help him to make decisions about which foods to choose, and which to avoid. Make sure he has something sweet on him in case he goes low, and chat with him about what to do if he feels funny. Most importantly, let him know that you are only a phone call away.

Yes! The thought of your child going off to a party at someone else’s home may make you scared. Away from your control, over-excited by all the fun and surrounded by delicious high sugar and high carb treats. A parent’s worst diabetic nightmare. But just remember: a child with diabetes is still a child. And children LOVE birthday parties!

It’s a good idea to call the host parent and find out what sort of food and drinks are planned for the party. You can even offer to provide a platter of your child’s favourite (diabetic-friendly) snacks, so that he can share them with his friends. Let the host know that you will have your phone on you the whole time.

Lastly, try to relax. With careful planning, your son can safely enjoy birthday parties as part of his childhood.

– Jeannie Berg, Diabetes Educator

 

Easy diabetes management tools

Making choices and decisions every day about life with diabetes can be tough… But luckily there are solutions to make it much easier. Nicole McCreedy has rounded up some favourite tools for you to choose from.

Each of us is different, so the methods and tools we choose to manage our diabetes need to be different too. The trick is to find solutions for self-management that work for you every day. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  1. Become an expert on diabetes

Gather as much information as you can on diabetes and how it affects your body. Make sure that your information is from a respected source, based on accurate scientific evidence. Ask your doctor to direct you to relevant books or websites. Understand the role that insulin plays in transporting glucose in the bloodstream to your muscles. This will help you to better know what impact foods such as carbohydrates or sugar will have on your blood glucose levels and how much insulin your body may need. With this knowledge, it does become easier to plan ahead and predict – to a degree – how your body will react.

  1. Learn to live with diabetes

It is common to feel overwhelmed, angry or sad when you’re living with diabetes. You may know the steps you need to take to stay healthy, but have trouble sticking with your plan over time. Try to make peace with your diagnosis and take control of your situation: eat well, exercise often and go for regular check-ups.

Ask the expert: Dr Joel Dave, endocrinologist

“Adapt your lifestyle and diabetes care to achieve good diabetes control and a good quality of life. This can definitely be done – try to include a multi-disciplinary team in your care to ensure balance in all areas.”

  1. Find ways to cope with stress and other factors

Heat, sickness, exercise, your menstrual cycle and stress are all factors that need to be considered when managing your treatment. Recognise and address these factors as they arise. Stress, for example, can raise your blood glucose levels, so in times of stress you may have to monitor your blood sugar more often.

  1. Be prepared and have a system

If you inject insulin, ensure that you have a supply readily available on hand for when you need to take it. Plan ahead by storing pens at work and at home, remembering to keep them cool. Create a system that works for you and helps you to remember when to inject yourself. A missed injection can cause knock-on unwellness when you try to make up for it later.

  1. Count your carbohydrates

Carbohydrate counting is helpful as it allows you to figure out more accurately how much insulin to give yourself before a meal to keep your blood sugar under control. Get into the habit of reading labels on the foods that you eat, as it will teach you to better estimate quantities, which can help you to be more accurate.

There are a number of mobile apps available for you to use on your phone:

  • Glucose Buddy stores the data you need to manage diabetes without a lot of hassle. You can input your blood glucose numbers, insulin dosages and how many carbs you eat at each meal.
  • Diabetes Buddy helps you manage your diabetes by tracking the factors that influence your blood sugar levels, monitoring the fluctuations, planning ahead and making it easy for you to share your data with your doctor.
  • ACCU-CHEK® 360° diabetes management app provides easy tracking of your diabetes data. A choice of graphic reports helps you identify trends and patterns in your blood sugar levels to support better management of your diabetes.

What are your favourite diabetes apps? Let us know in the comments and we’ll include them!