Tips for helping your child manage diabetes while at school

This month the Joslin Blog is highlighting stories about heading back to school with diabetes. This story was originally posted on March 2, 2011.

Teddy Bear Clinic 2007 035As much as you may want to, you can’t be with your child at every moment.

But while you may not have an eye on them 24/7, you can still play a key role in their diabetes management when they’re at school.

The following tips can help your child in school so your child can focus on learning and being social with friends, and not just diabetes.

Try to make diabetes care just another part of your child’s day. Work with your child’s diabetes health care team, the school’s nurse and your child’s teachers on your child’s diabetes management during the school day.

For example, see whether your child can keep diabetes supplies and snacks in the classroom. If he or she needs to go to the nurse, try to avoid disrupting the most social parts of the day such as snack time.

Balancing act

“The biggest thing is to help your child learn how to balance choices,” says Laurie Higgins ,  M.S., R.D., L.D.N., C.D.E.  a dietitian in the Pediatric, Adolescent and Young Adult section at Joslin Diabetes Center.

They can have the pizza, but should then choose a fruit and skim milk to balance the meal. Or, for those on more restrictive meal plans, choose a salad to go with the pizza. Generally, the earlier you start educating your child about healthy choices and portion control, the better.

Healthy home habits

It’s up to you to make recommendations and ask your child what he or she ate at school. “But don’t worry too much,” Werner says. “You can always compensate with other meals you serve at home that day.”

Establishing good eating habits at home plays a huge role. “If 90 percent of the time they make great choices, ice cream at lunch would sometimes be okay,” she says. It’s also possible that if they eat well at home, they may not even be tempted to buy ice cream or chips at school.

Pack a lunch

A lunch packed at home gives you much more control over your child’s choices. You can pack a more nutritious, filling lunch with whole-grain breads, fruit and low-fat snacks.

“It’s a safer bet, but not always realistic to bring,” Werner says.  “It can depend on your budget and your child’s attitude about bringing lunch.”

Mix it up

Lunch doesn’t have to be “buy” or “bring.” Your child can buy lunch and, instead of having the school’s dessert, bring a fat-free pudding. Mixing-and-matching is a perfectly fine way to balance taste and temptation.

The availability of the school nurse to help with carb counting for children with diabetes varies among school systems. However, you can usually get nutrition information for meals the school plans to serve during the upcoming month. That way, you and your child can plan meal choices ahead of time.

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1 Comment

  1. Truly an excellent idea to do important parts when they’re at school as sometimes it becomes impossible to keep eye on them 24/7. With all the other matter it’ll surely help to diabetes management I think.

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