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  1. Managing Special Occasions for Children with Diabetes

Managing Special Occasions for Children with Diabetes

Having diabetes shouldn't prevent a child from having fun during special occasions. A little planning and a question or two allows kids with diabetes to participate in just about everything.

On special occasions, such as sporting events, pizza days at school, classroom parties, sleepovers or birthday parties, there are a few basic rules to follow:

Contact the organizer for the following details: What food will be served and when? What physical activities are planned?

Determine the foods being served and how they will fit into your child's meal plan (your dietitian can help you if you are uncertain).

How the food "fits in" depends on when it's being served. Meals or snacks can be split as needed to allow your child to eat with the other children.

If there will be a great deal of physical activity, extra fruits or vegetables or starch may be needed. An adjustment to insulin may be possible also.

For family feasts and holidays, it's important to keep as many "traditionals" as possible, but the ones involving food may need to be modified somewhat. Calculate favourite recipes to determine their food choice value. Sometimes new traditions can be formed that are not food related.

Here are some tips for special occasions:


Let the kids pick out or help with costume preparation
Let younger kids answer the door in costume
For older kids, the fun is "trick or treating"
Allow all the potato chips, peanuts and sugar-free gum from the loot bags

Let the kids keep some of the treats they don't usually get (e.g. chocolate and candy). These can fit into their meal plan in the following days or weeks (your dietitian can help with food choice values on selected treats)

Leftover treats can be traded with brothers or sisters, given to less fortunate kids or sold to parents


Calculate those favourite family recipes
The festive turkey dinner items should be ok, but timing of the meal may need to be watched. Santa can stuff socks with non-food items: hair clips, stickers, colouring books, movie tickets, etc.

Eating Out

Determine food choice values in advance, if possible
Substitute between groups as needed
Have one extra protein if desired
Save fat choices from earlier in the day if needed
Have one to two extra fat choices if weight is not an issue
With guidance, some people can adjust their insulin if they eat more than usual


Encourage your child to get involved in physical activities
You'll need to do blood tests before, during and after activities to determine the effect on blood sugars
An increase in fruit and vegetables or grains may be needed to prevent low blood sugars;
Be aware that some kids' blood sugars drop later, up to 24 hours after the activity is finished
A decrease in insulin may be helpful (talk to your medical team)

Whatever the occasion, kids with diabetes should be encouraged to be involved. By determining the details in advance, you will be prepared so the kids can participate and have fun.