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Snack suggestions for teens with type 1 diabetes
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Snack suggestions for teens with type 1 diabetes

My teenage son was recently diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.  Being a typical growing teenage boy, the temptation to snack often and on anything under the sun, is a constant battle. This has caused severe spikes in his blood sugar levels and I constantly worry about what long term effects this might have on his organs.  Could you please tell me what complications over time can occur from high blood sugar levels.  Also, are there any good snack ideas for a teenager with type 1 diabetes that has a lifetime battle ahead of him and is getting bored with the same old tasteless snacks?

Thank You.
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Avatar_n_tn
Hi critcrit!  I am the mom of an 18 year old girl who was diagnosed at the age of 21 months.  I am not a medical professional, so any information passed on to you is based solely on my personal experience in dealing with type 1 diabetes.  All suggestions should be verified with your son's healthcare team.

I can totally relate to where you are right now with both the adjustment to living with diabetes and the hunger/snacking issues.  

Because your son is newly diagnosed, his hunger pangs can be extreme due to his body receiving insulin that perhaps it hasn't received enough of for some time before diagnosis.  Speak to your endocrinologist about a sliding scale of adjusting his insulin requirements if you know the type of carbs he is going to be eating (ex:  pizza or pasta may require more insulin as, in some people, tend to spike the bg level after eating).  Also, during the honeymoon phase (the time period after diagnosis when the pancreas may be producing some insulin sporadically), it is difficult to determine accurate insulin dosage so frequent calls to the endocrinologist to make necessary insulin adjustments are sometimes necessary.  I can remember being on the phone weekly, sometimes more frequently than that, calling in my daughter's numbers to receive dose changes for her.

Have you looked into or discussed the insulin pump with your son's endocrinologist?  My daughter has had hers for almost 3 years now and we really noticed a big change in the extreme bg's that she was having after getting her pump.  Now there are less high's & lows - she's gotten more stable readings since getting it.  There are many different types of pumps on the market and you could do a search on the web for what's out there.  Different doctors prefer their patients to use certain ones, so you may want to check with your son's endo first before spending too much time searching.  My daughter has the Medtronic pump and loves it.  One of the greatest things about the pump, besides the obvious of having to do only one shot every three or so days, is that the kids can sleep in in the morning.  I am sure that, being a teenager, this would greatly appeal to your son.  As long as they are checked in the morning to make sure they're not too high or too low, they can sleep beyond their usual 8am shot.  Even when my daughter is higher than we'd like her to be, she can correct and her pump gives her insulin to bring her bg down and if she's low, she can have some juice and go back to sleep for a little while.

There are many unpleasant complications that long-term uncontrolled bg levels can create.  These do not happen just because you've had diabetes for a long time.  Some of them are vision difficulties, neuropathy (loss of sensation due to lack of circulation/nerve damage), & kidney problems.  I know that these are very serious and scary things to think could possibly happen to your child, but you need to remember that these complications have been found to occur after years of poor bg control.  An occasional high bg is not unusual and it's not worth worrying about something that you cannot control anyway.  It's the years and years of chronic high bg's that pose the problem.  If there's a high reading, just try & determine what may have caused it (not always possible, by the way)and if it's an obvious reason, try to avoid this situation in the future).It is important to keep all of this in perspective, especially when dealing with a teenager.  If there's too much control and suffocating by us, the parent, there may be rebellion and this is not a good thing.  The facts are the facts and your son needs to know what the consequences may be if he chooses to be non-compliant and make poor lifestyle decisions.  My daughter has not experienced any of these effects (it's been 17 years since her diagnosis) and believe me, there were plenty of high bg's through the years.  Especially since your son is a teenager, all you can do is provide him with the information to educate him on taking good care of himself so that he can make informed decisions about his well-being.  It's a huge responsibility for someone his age to make these decisions, but he is also at the age where some day soon he'll be making these lifestyle decisions, even despite his diabetes, such as drinking/smoking/drugs.  Giving him the necessary tools to make an informed decision is crucial in his success in making the right choices.  Some terrific places for you to reach out and obtain this information include:

The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation at www.jdrf.org and another recommended site is: http://www.childrenwithdiabetes.com/d_06_a00.htm#DIForTeens which is Children with Diabetes' recommended books for kids & teens with diabetes...LOTS of worthwhile suggestions in this list

As far as food issues are concerned, all I can suggest is that you try to provide well balanced healthy food items.  They don't have to be tasteless.  There are many high fiber snack options and an occasional treat is a necessity since we do receive much satisfaction from what we eat!  Our latest favorite in my house are the multi-grain Tostitos w/Salsa.  Even though they are hardly low fat (8 g in 8 chips, they offer 2 g of fiber.  The fiber slows down the rapid rise in blood glucose, so it might not cause a higher bg rise than if a food lower in fiber was ingested.  Even if weight is not an issue, you still need to be aware of fat content as high fat foods, in certain people, can cause bg levels to rise.  Store bought salsas are terrific - just compare sugar content & choose one lower in sugar.  When I make home made cookies, I cut the amount of sugar in half and I add 1/2 cup of wheat germ to the recipe.  The addition of the fiber really makes a difference in the bg rise.  Popcorn (try it cooked on the stove with just a touch of healthy oil for real flavor) is good too because of the fiber content.  With popcorn, however, when my daughter was on shots, was not substantial enough and she'd be low after eating it (mostly during the night).  I believe it had to do with the digestion of this type of high fiber food though.  How about Chex mix?  You will find that you need to keep a variety of different foods in the house to avoid the boredom. This sometimes translates into spending more at the grocery store but eating well isn't always cost effective!

I want to encourage you to visit the jdrf website as there is a special on-line support team that can give you a specific person to connect with and help you get through this very emotional and trying time in your life.  It's like having an internet friend to discuss any diabetes topic with 24/7!  More than that, they are someone who has been through exactly what you are going through right now and can offer priceless advice on how to deal with whatever issue you have questions about.

Please let us know how things are going with you/your son/your family.  
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Avatar_n_tn
If you are looking for snacks that won't affect your son's glucose levels (or won't require him to take more insulin), you may want to offer nuts, string cheese, or beef jerky as snacks. These foods have either no carbs or very few carbs and won't wreck havoc with his glucose control. They can be filling, too. Veggies with a dip are another low-carb possibility... most teens love crunchy veggies with an appropriate dip. However, do look at the carb content of whatever you use as a dip, for if carbs are present, they have to be accounted for.
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Avatar_n_tn
Im a type 1 diabetic   And i am an 16 year old endurance athlete with a reall apetite.   My favorit snack is a low carb salad with cheeze, mushrooms, bell peppers, and low fat sallad dressing, and some low fat deli meat!!
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Avatar_n_tn
Hello all, my son is 4 years old and was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at 17 months, I too had questions about snacks between breakfast, lunch & dinner also his behavior at school is increasingly getting more aggressive, any suggestions, advice, comforting words for me to help understand how he might be feeling, he has lows and hi's but more highs & not too many lows, we are soon transitioning to Lantus which I ve been told is better then novolog and novolin (or as I call them clear and cloudy) so we may see relief but I'm a single dad and I'm simply reachin out,

Thanks,
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Avatar_f_tn
Hi, I'm 26 and have been diabetic since 1993.  My mom used to send me graham crackers and peanut butter to school as a mid-morning and mid-afternoon snack.  You can get the grahams with cinnamon for a little extra flavor. I still like these even after all these years.  :)  And, fruits are good.  They have natural sugars so give in moderation, but they're still good for you.  

Critcrit:  Long term complications can include blindness, lose of feeling in hands and feet which can can progress to amputations, kidney failure.  Sorry to be so.....forward, but the complications suck.  Just type in complications to diabetes in a google search.  
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Avatar_f_tn
hi i am thirteen yaers old and i have had diabetes since 2008 that might not be a long time but .i was struggling with my a1c .it is 10.3. my doctor suggsested that i eat these items...
salad
spinach
cheese
apple jacks(½ cup)
whole grain wheat thins
low fat fiber one granola bars
and mostly all of my meals now consist of salads some almonds and either diet soda , water and or milk
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United Kingdom