Type 1 Diabetes Lifestyle Checklist
You can help your child through these activities. Making them part of your daily routine will help to reduce stress and allow your kid to be a kid.
It’s also important that your child doesn’t feel like they’re alone. Nearly 1.25 million Americans are living with Type 1 diabetes, including about 200,000 youth (less than 20 years old)1.
The following lifestyle tips can help you and your child stay on top of managing diabetes each day and help you prepare for your child’s doctor’s visits.
Day-to-Day Checklist for Managing Type 1 Diabetes
- Check blood sugar levels three to five times per day. It’s always good to do a blood sugar check before breakfast, lunch, and dinner so your child can take the right amount of insulin based on what he or she will be eating.
- Plan meals that will help to balance your child’s intake of carbs with their insulin and activity levels to keep blood sugar levels under control. Guidelines are as follows:
- About 10% to 20% of the calories your child eats should come from protein. Try to select lean meats like chicken or beef.
- Roughly 25% to 30% of calories should come from fat. Avoid foods with lots of trans and saturated fats (or serve them only in moderation).
- About 50% to 60% of the calories your child eats should come from carbs. Encourage your child to eat non-starchy vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, carrots and green beans. And choose vitamin-rich brown rice or sweet potatoes instead of white rice or regular potatoes2.
Sports and Physical Activity
- Check blood sugar before physical activity to assess if a small snack needs to be eaten to help keep blood sugar steady. Check with your doctor for specific guidelines.
- Check blood sugar levels during and after the activity. Your child’s blood sugar may significantly vary during prolonged physical activity, depending on the intensity level.
- Have glucose tablets, fruit juice and snacks on-hand during sports practices and games in case your child experiences low blood sugar.
- You’ll need to check blood sugar levels more frequently after the activity and overnight to assess if insulin doses need to be adjusted.
Holidays and Birthday Parties
- Check your child’s blood sugar before the start of the party.
- Pack extra insulin with their normal injection supplies. Don’t forget to store it properly while traveling and at the party location.
- Offer to bring a dish that you know is appropriate for your child to share and show others new, low-carb recipes.
- Plan ahead so that your child can eat a piece of cake or have a small serving of soda or candy with their friends. Monitor blood sugar closely after the party.
- Limit portions of high-carb party foods like chips, dips and cake.
- Work closely with your child’s doctor to adjust insulin as needed for special occasions such as a holiday or birthday party.
When going on a trip with your child, you need to have all of the items that your child will need. Be sure to pack enough of each of the items below based on how many days your child will be away from home:
- Blood sugar testing supplies
- Pump and/or continuous glucose monitor (CGM) supplies
- Ketone testing strips
- Glucose tablets or fast-acting sugar to treat low blood glucose
- A medical ID card (your child should always wear a medical ID bracelet)
- Day and night phone numbers for your diabetes care team
- Snacks like peanut butter and crackers
- First aid kit
Type 1 Diabetes Doctor’s Visit Checklist
At each doctor’s visit, you should have a list of questions prepared to ask about your child’s health. Your doctor will also ask the following, so it will be helpful to be prepared with answers in advance of the visit:
- Ask about your child’s self-monitoring of blood sugar, so it is helpful to bring your child’s log book with you to each appointment.
- Ask about the frequency and severity of episodes of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) or hyperglycemia (high blood sugar).
- Ask about your child’s medication use.
- Check on any signs or symptoms of diabetes such as symptoms of nerve damage or numbness.
- Ask you about any lifestyle changes like your child playing a new sport or trying a different meal plan.
- Talk to you about possible stress, depression, or other psychological issues.
- Ask you about your exercise and eating habits.
- Follow up on anything suspicious from previous physical exams.
There are many online resources to help with managing Type 1 diabetes. Visit the websites of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation at https://www.jdrf.org/t1d-resources/ or the American Diabetes Association at https://www.diabetes.org/.