Pasta, Pizza and Ice Cream: The Trauma of “Kid Friendly” Dinners with Type 1 Diabetes

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We’re new to Minneapolis, and eager to meet people. Naturally, families with kids our own children’s age are the most logical place to start. Outside of work, the parents of our kids’ schoolmates are the only community we are connected to, as we don’t attend religious services.

Our school has been incredibly welcoming, but there is one constant problem: the “kid friendly” dinners organized by well meaning parents. Unfortunately, these meals are not aimed at children with Type 1 diabetes; why should they be?

You know the drill. You get invited to someone’s house, the hosts know there will be lots of children, so they choose food that most young folks are likely to enjoy: pizza. pasta, and ice cream. Our school is a Montessori, so the food at parties is usually organic and Whole Food-bought. Still, pasta is pasta. 

Our kids, aged 9 (no diabetes) and 6 (type 1), love pasta and ice cream as much as anyone. But pasta wreaks havoc on our son’s blood sugars, all night, and when you throw in a serving of ice cream – including the fat, protein and high carb count – the damage is even greater.

Dinner is served typically around 6. We do a combo bolus, but nonetheless, our troubles begin around midnight. Sugar levels begin to zoom up, and we start correcting to try and bring them down. Nothing much happens for a while, but by 3 or 4 am, his sugars usually start coming down too hard, and too fast.

Since I’m the night-time BG guy, I spend 1 to 5:30 am waking up, studying his CGM, testing his blood, wondering if the pump isn’t working, and tinkering with basal and boluses. 

At 5:30, if I’m not too exhausted, I go to the gym and get a bit of relief. My wife takes over, dealing with the oscillating BGs until the kids get up at 7:30 for school. 

We’ve tried dealing in different ways. We tinker with basal rates, combo boluses, and the like. It doesn’t help. We’ve called our hosts ahead of time, asking if they can tweak the menu. This gets awkward, however, as it imposes on people we don’t know particularly well, and throws their dinner plans into chaos. We’ve also tried bringing our own food for Sacha, but that just causes a scene; he doesn’t like being singled out.

More often than not, we just let it go, look at each other with resignation, and hope that this time, things will be different. 

Any suggestions? 

 

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5 Comments on "Pasta, Pizza and Ice Cream: The Trauma of “Kid Friendly” Dinners with Type 1 Diabetes"

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michelle
What a tough situation!  None of my kids have Type 1, but since I do, along with a lot of food allergies, we have always tried to feed them pretty healthy foods. I am lucky enough to be able to turn a blind eye sometimes at parties etc and let them eat pizza or whatever the other kids eat.  But we prefer to minimize those treats.   So when we have other kids over, we do tend to have easy foods like pasta, but it would be quinoa or brown rice pasta, since that is what we eat. I know… Read more »
Karen

hi there, thanks for sharing. my 12 year old has been diagnosed for almost 2 years now, myself a little over 10. I might suggest that  you and your family host a dinner yourselves, that way you’ve got complete control over what’s served and can do a little d-education in the comfort of your own home. your son might be more likely to “follow the rules”, as well, and not feel singled out if he’s at home. I also agree with the suggestion of getting him used to serving sizes of desserts…especially out, they can be brutal.

Toby
 I think I’m trying to squish too much in to small posts.  I forgot to address rewards, so hopefully some of this is helpful.   Rewards for behaviors can be a very complex subject.  I think neuropsychologists have the best understanding of what a reward is.  They would tend to see a reward being anything that stimulates the release of specific neurotransmitters, especially ones that act upon the amygdala (emotional center) and nucleus accumbens (pleasure center). Chemical that are released in  these brain areas are good at reinforcing the behaviors right before their release.  This is true for many negative behaviors… Read more »
Toby
Oh, one more thing, I just saw that last month you asked me to write a little more on how Behavioral Psychology, specifically “Reinforcement” can be used to shape attitudes and behaviors.  This is an in depth conversation, perhaps more than can be covered in a post response.  But let me use one example.  Say the problem is that Sasha doesn’t like finger sticks for BG testing and the desired change is to have him see them as not only necessary, but willing to do them because of the benefit that they offer.  Classical conditioning (think Pavlov’s dogs) teaches us… Read more »
Toby
Excellent post! This is all-too-familiar!  Our son is 10 and was diagnosed 4 years ago.  The situations you describe above, where we know the food is going to bring chaos, are always going to be there.  One “trick” that my son hasn’t really caught onto is I give him a very late snack right before we go to these types of events.  It kills his appetite and he eat half of what he would of, but he is still happy because he got to eat the yummy food.  Dessert on top of the pasta is killer, so I begin managing… Read more »
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