How can I help my son with type one diabetes?

Hi there,

My 13 year old son has recently been diagnosed with type one diabetes and we all coming to terms with this news. At the moment, his blood count is still very high and he SO hungry. I would like to give him a healthy breakfast but we need to drop the carbs and he is upset that he cannot have his usual two bowls of cereal. This morning, he had cereal and egg and bacon but I was wondering if there is anything else I could try? Everything seems to have carbs in, even fruit! I have brought a carbs counting book and am waiting for this to be delivered. We are making lots of changes to our family's diet/meals but if you have any suggestions would be appreciated. We want to make this as painless for him that we can. Many thanks, Vicky.

I spend a long time (1984-2008...) sort of fumbling around with it but then I got a pump and everythng fell into place. One non-pump thing that I think may have helped the most was to get a scale and the Calorie King book, I actually ended up with 2 as I bought one and then they gave me one with my pump. It's a pocket-sized food book that pretty much lists carbs for all sorts of things, including a lot of fast foods, fair foods, ethnic foods and other things that are, of course, horrible for you but well, people eat sometimes.

Food is a big part of diabetes and to balance your blood sugar, I think it's *really* important to know what you're eating. The "bowls" of cereal I'd eat before I did that were probably 3 "servings" b/c I'd just dump it in until the bowl was full or slightly under for buoyant cereal. A lot of people don't eat that sort of stuff all the time but I still have a bowl of cereal here and there and am aware that Crunchberries have less carbs than Cheerios. One other thing I've found is that eating less carbs is less work and, while I sometimes would enjoy cereal instead of eggs and lower carb toast (I look at labels and usually end up in the 8-10G range and do ok...), I know that I'll be much lesss likely to have a BG mess to "clean up" around 9:00 if I stick with a lower carb option. If I find something that works, I tend to eat it a lot. My plan is to eat pretty much the same thing most of the time during the weekdays, on the way to and at work, and then experiment more in the evenings when I'm at home and, if I run low, I just treat it while reading, watching TV, etc. It may be harder for wild nights on the teenage town but knowing what works and what doesn't has been very useful for me.

some discussions on breakfast ideas

the last one has about 164 replies

I can tell you what my son eats, but you may have to adjust to your son's height/weight. My son is 5' 0" tall and 95 pounds. He eat 4 meals a day, each 30-40 grams of carbohydrate. This amount of carbohydrate works well to not spike his BG too high. For breakfast, he will have egg whites and turkey bacon with most of his meals. While he can have real bacon and regular eggs, my son has to have more insulin for those (he seems to convert fat and protein to glucose very well). It took about a month, but now he enjoys the whites and turkey bacon just like regular. He is also a big fan of cheese, which appears to have no impact on his BG. For his 30-40 grams of carbohydrate, his favorite is instant oatmeal with peanut butter, but he also likes it with cinamon and Equal. He will also have 40 measured grams of high fiber cereal sweetened with Equal, but he uses almond milk. Unsweetend almond milk has 1 gram of carbohydrate per serving. Again, it took a while for him to like it, but now he loves the stuff and we have to limit him to 2-3 glasses a day due to cost! Unsweetened soy milk only has 6 carbs per serving and kids often learn to love it very quickly.

An awesome hunger killer can be to add two protein shakes a day. My son's favorite 11 carb shake is:
1. 1 scoop of chocolate protein powder - low carb, no sugar added
2. 2 Tablespoons of peanut butter - we get all natural, so watch out for sugar added!
3. 1 tablespoon of psyllium husk (for the first week don't take more the 1 tablespoon per day.
4. 1 tablespoon flax seed
5. 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
6. Blend

Subtracting fiber, our version of this only has 11 carbs and combined with a serving of oatmeal or eggs and bacon keeps our son feeling full for hours. By automatically doing these twice a day it appears to really control our son's hunger.

The kind of protein powder we use is Rich Chocolate GNC Lean Shake 25 (must be the "25" for lower carb). These are almost always buy 1 get one 50% off. One container lasts exactly 3 weeks if you use 2 level scoops a day, so the cost is $10 a week for the protein powder. You have to be careful when you buy psyllium husk that they don't add sugar (WalMart brand used to, not sure now). We get 2 lbs from HEB for $12 and it lasts 2 months at a time. This stuff has 2 excellent effects: it is what keeps him feeling full and he is very regular :).

I'd add too that I have a 14 year old and, in terms of things like this, she would be more "on board" if she were involved in choosing, testing, measuring, etc. I think? Ginger Vieira has an excellent book called "Your Diabetes Science Experiment" that looks at problems we all share as opportunities to try things out and has good suggestions for how to approach various things. She is not quite as militantly "low carb" as the Tufamily seems to drift towards on food and thus may be more marketable to a cereal fan? [disclaimer, I eat eggs w/ veggies chopped up in them just about every day...although I eat low-carb toast on pushup/ chinup day, so I will get more ripped, LOL...].

It may be that two bowls of cereal is simply too much and would be an *extremely* ambitious project for people with diabetes (except Sir Steve Redman...) but, by studying serving sizes and experimenting and evaluating results, I would think a kid might more clearly see "hmm, a lot of cereal is challenging, but I can kick ■■■ with a lower amount of cereal and kicking ■■■ feels good..." or something along those lines. I would think that figuring out himself might be a better feeling than getting a bunch of stuff from "my [old, I'm old too though...] mom's internet buddies, eeew" which is how I would think my daughter might react to many suggestions I would make regarding food choices? She's starting to come to her own conclusions, much better ones than I made at her age, but I'm not saying "I *told* you so!" yet!

ShawnMarie, didn't you have a recipe for eggs cooked in a muffin pan with something? I know it was something you could make in advance.

everything is so new for you and your son, this is a tough time. i would recommend adding in protein eggs, cheese sticks, glass of milk, lunch meat to breakfast as well as adding in protein and healthy fat to all meals. the 2-3 bowls of cereal isnt such a great idea but my son usually has one with something else, rather than suggesting to him all that he cant have suggest eating more balanced and healthier, everyone in the family following suit. jacob was always a healthy eater for the most part, so aside from trying to be more mindful to include protein and fat we really never changed his diet, the insulin dose should address what every they are eating. as an adult i would like him to eat lower carb but not necessarily now at 14 he is growing and likes to eat what he likes to eat. your son may enter a honeymoon period soon where he requires less insulin. in anycase i would pick your battles carefully to ensure continued compliance. make him feel involved, compitent, responsible and you will see him grow in all kids of ways! best of luck, you will get through this together most important i would say to empower him with the knowledge to care for himself in a natural, non dominating way and encourage all the things you enjoyed with him and about him before his diagnosis. blessings amy

Hi, I've found a lot of things are are trial and error. For me, and of course we are all different, but I too love cereal, so it was a lot of playing around with what works for me. I personally have found Kashi Sunberry Blossom cereal I can do pretty well with minimal spikes. It has 25 grams for a 3/4 cup serving. I also use unsweetened almond milk as it has very little carbs per 8 oz serving. I've also found I can do Quaker Instant Oatmeal Low Sugar Brown Sugar and Cinnamon flavor pretty well too. It has about 24 carbs per 1 packet envelope. Eggs and bacon also work well for many. I find though eggs, if Im not careful with serving size can give me a significant spike 3 to 4 hours later, plus I'm not a huge egg fan anyway, but adding some protein to maybe a small size serving of cereal will help with the carb spike, as well as giving him a more full feeling.

My daughter was diagnosed one year ago when she was 11. As a family, we have completely changed our diet. It is all so overwhelming, I know. For my 12 year old daughter, i try to keep carbs below 45 for breakfast. Try Applegate brand (warning:expensive) for turkey bacon, ham, turkey sausage links (in freezer section) and turkey. She needs protein in morning, but regular breakfast meat and cold cuts have so many nitrates it is a little scary, so the Applegate is a good choice because it is nitrate free. Peanut butter is also good on whole wheat. When she wants cereal, she gets one cup (measureed) and will have with strawberries (half cup) and a cup of plain, low-fat yogurt. I will then make her a protein with it, either something from the Applegate line or eggs.
Whole wheat Thomas's english muffins are only 20 carbs, and she has turkey on one with fruit and milk as s side. Good luck and I hope you find breakfasts that he loves as much as his tow cups of cereal!

I love this recipe as well, though I usually make it in an individual souffle dish when I have some extra time in the morning. The idea of reheated eggs definitely doesn't appeal to me. I also use various type souffle recipes for dinner as they have virtually no carbs! (For example last night I made one with goat cheese, chives, broccoli and separated and beaten eggs to make it light and fluffy.

Lots of solid advice here. Feeling hungry can happen when blood count is high (also when low), so his hunger may get better as his blood count improves. Protein helps to feel full. Hang in there!

Starbucks has a wonderful bottle of sugar free vanilla flavoring, but it costs $9/bottle. Good stuff though! I love the suggestion of using it in almond milk!

I'd second this. I think it's important to be able to eat as close to what you want as possible. I'm 40 and still love my breakfast cereal - now I choose shredded wheat with bran which has no sugar. Add in some cottage cheese and a banana with some erythritol and it's very satisfying. I think it's more important to account for the carbs you eat with your insulin dose, combine them with fat and protein to slow their effect and choose ones that are more complex than try to minimize or eliminate them.

One thing that really helps is pre bolusing when Jared who is 13 (dx at 5) wakes up he tests and boluses for breakfast right away as long as bg is over 80 . For a long time he ate corn dogs for breakfast which seams odd but it worked great. He also does well with the pancakes with sausage on a stick no syrup needed, the fat I these keeps the carbs from hitting all at once and the protein and fat will keep them satisfied. It is also something that is still sweet so both my boys love them. I also pack his school lunch because the school lunches are crap and loaded with empty carbs.

I’ve pretty much decided that breakfast cereals are out of the question for me due to total inability to control glucose levels after eating them. I pretty much eat eggs and meat of some sort and n English muffin every day for breakfast. I find English muffins to be a good option for me, because they are about as close to universal as I could find for a breakfast carb source… They are available at my work, at home, and at pretty much all restaurants and the variation between different ones is relatively small, of course I still have to cover with insulin. The best immediate advice I can give though, is lose the cereal, it is not a good option for very many people with this condition.

Thank you all so much for responding to my post. The information given is brilliant and I will take a look at all the links and suggestions. We weighed out a very small bowl of cereal (shreddies) this morning and although he was disappointed, he accepted that he needs to make changes. I also made him an omlette and bagon. When he is ready, I will introduce him to your site as I feel he may benefit from reading your posts and to know that he is not on his own with this. In the area we live, there doesn't seem to be a diabetes youth support group and although he has been told there are other diabetic type one pupils at his school, he hasn't met them yet. Its early days, so I am hoping he will meet them in the medical room and have a chat. I can't imagine how he feels right now but it helps to have this site for advice and support, so thank you. Vicky

Hi Vicky, I feel your pain! When my 4 year old son was diagnosed last year I was initially worried he would be hungry if I had to watch how many carbs he ate at each meal. (Our family consumes a lot of carbs.....fruits, breads and desserts are our downfall.) During our training in hospital, Cody's nurses and I came to the conclusion that instead of limiting Cody's carbs for each meal, instead we should use an "insulin to carb ratio" meal plan for him. It was great! I don't know if your son's doctors/nurses educated you on this or not? Simply put, Cody can eat as many carbs as he wants, I just need to make sure he gets enough insulin to cover the carbs eaten. (That way your son could easily eat his two bowls of cereal!!) Every meal Cody eats has a wide range of carbs consumed, anywhere from 40-90. I discussed this with his Dr. at the last appointment, and they saw nothing wrong with it. He is very trim, and his Dr. said that kids need carbs to grow. son is also on the Animas One Touch Ping insulin pump, and we love it, it gives him so much more freedom! I hope this helps, let me know if you have any other questions. Take care and GOOD LUCK!! :)

My 15 year old son was diagnosed February 12, 2013. Just a little less than a month. I see that this post was written a little while ago. Are you still looking for ideas? What carb amounts are you shooting for each meal?

Breakfast cereals are tough on T1s due to their high glycemic index. I have found that Oatmeal treats me pretty well, but my most common breakfast food is greek yogurt - specifically the Chobani one. Even with that though, you need to bolus ahead of time. The fastest insulin out there still isn't fast enough to deal with any breakfast cereal adequately when taken immediately before eating. I find that I need to bolus and then wait 20-30 minutes before eating anything in the morning.

Additionally, I have found that if I am going to eat cereal for breakfast, I need to adjust my carb to insulin ratio for it. I personally find that I require more insulin taken 20-30 minutes early if I am going to deal with cereal effectively and not spike up to 250.