Thanksgiving with a Diabetic Child: Insulin Pumps & Carb Charts

Today is our first Thanksgiving with Jake (nearly 3 years-old) and his diabetes. We’re pretty psyched and THANKFUL for his new insulin pump (no more shots!). It’s not only awesome all around, but it’s definitely going to make today easier. He can have dinner, we’ll count the carbs he ate, dose him his insulin with the pump. And then an hour later, he can have dessert, we’ll count the carbs, and dose him with more insulin. When he was still getting shots (which he HATED, understandably!), he would’ve had to get 2 shots, and it was advised that you wait 2 hours between shots. The pump tells you how much insulin is “on board” so you can give insulin doses super close to eachother. Woo hoo!

Just to give you an idea of how meals go with a diabetic child — and the ultimate annual meal at that! — I’ve posted a link below (after the videos) to the chart I made to count Jake’s Thanksgiving meal carbs. No need for a Sudoku book to prevent Alzheimer’s in OUR house! We’ve got all the math and calculating exercises we need 3 or more times a day 🙂

Happy Thanksgiving and Carb Day, everyone!

Here is Jake *practicing” wearing his pump before we went “live” 3 weeks ago:

And here is our very first insulin “shot” we gave him with his pump (video also served as an instructional video for Jake’s caregivers):

And the chart (plus calculator and food scale) that will come in handy later today.

Jake’s Carb Chart for Thanksgiving

Easy-as-Pie Low Sugar Monkey Cake

Light, Fluffy, Rich, Lower Sugar!

Looking for a sweet dessert without the chemicals, weird artificial flavor taste, and without added sugar? Impossible! Forget it! Oh wait. Enter: Monkey Cake.

Sugar–with it’s highly inflammatory, blood sugar-spiking, acne-growing, and teeth-rotting attributes, combined with the fact that it doesn’t even do your laundry–has sent me on a dessert mission. A mission to create a lower sugar baked good that’s not only highly tolerable, but bordering on cravable. This one does it, especially if you’re part monkey. The sweetness comes from bananas and a touch of Truvia, a natural calorie-free sweetener from the stevia plant. The coconut oil–gaining new health praise–adds a subtle tropical kick. Give it a whirl–it’s easy as pie!

Money Cake (Low Sugar)
Makes 12 hunks
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 40 minutes

2 very ripe bananas
1/2 cup filtered water
3 Tablespoons Truvia Baking Blend (or other stevia leaf extract for baking)
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted, or vegetable oil
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (like Bob’s), or 2 1/2 cups brown rice flour (like Bob’s)
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Mash banana, water, and stevia together, and stir in oil and vanilla until well-mixed.

Sift flour, baking soda, and salt together in a separate bowl. Combine flour mixture and cinnamon with wet mixture by stirring in gradually.

Pour mixture into a greased 9″ x 9″ square or 9″ round baking pan. Bake for 40 minutes, until top is golden brown. Let the cake cool before cutting.

Nutrition Info Per Hunk: 150 calories, 5 g fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 202 mg sodium, 24 g carbohydrate, 4 g fiber, 2 g sugar, 3 g protein, 7% Iron.

The trick with using stevia baking blend in recipes is to substitute it at a 1:2 ratio for sugar. The stevia is sweeter and has a nasty aftertaste if overdone. The original version of this recipe called for 1/2 cup sugar (8 Tablespoons), and 3 Tablespoons of stevia baking blend does the trick without any nasty.

Even a Dietitian’s Child Gets Diabetes

Jake in the ER, Chowing down after his first insulin shot

Health Champs and Nutrition Superheroes,

My post today is a personal one. This past week, we found out that my 2 year-old son has type 1 diabetes (the need-insulin-shots-for-the-rest-of-his-life kind). Despite our uber healthy diet topping the charts with veggies, fruits, beans, and whole grains, an autoimmune response to a virus or reason unknown caused my littlest dude’s immune system to attack the insulin-producing cells of his pancreas. When this happens, insulin (which is like the key that unlocks cells’ doors to allow glucose to get in and do its job) can no longer be produced, leaving excessive glucose floating around the bloodstream. A normal body’s pancreas produces just enough insulin to deal with whatever carbohydrate is or isn’t eaten–no thought, shot, or pill needed. The glucose gets into the cells, blood sugars are stable, and none of it requires any extra effort.

As type 1 diabetes is hitting, however, and the insulin-producing cells are being destroyed, the body panics with the extra glucose floating around the bloodstream and reacts by pulling fluid from every store to try and eliminate the glucose through the urine. Dehydration and extreme thirst result. Those are the first signs. The next are usually lethargy and vomiting.

About 5 days before we discovered Jake’s diabetes, he had been asking for more water and urinating more. Not crazy amounts, we just had to change his diaper more often. He was getting over a cold, so of course he was thirstier. He even had a fever one night and I took him to the pediatrician first thing the following morning suspecting an ear infection. But nothing was wrong. Well, once Day 5 hit and he was still asking for “wa wa please” every several minutes (and his grandma also noticed he was cold and his skin looked a little thin), I asked the nurses at my work if they thought anything of his excessive thirst, and asked if I might borrow a glucometer to test his blood sugar levels, just to rule out diabetes. They had seen this before and were worried. They encouraged me to postpone my patients for the day and go home to test his blood sugar, and then I could return if all was well.

His blood sugar level was 560 and then retested at 549. Normal is 100-200 for a 2 year-old. Obviously, it was a faulty machine. I tested MY levels: 73. Crap. Fast-forward past the ER at Children’s hospital, IV fluids to rehydrate him, the official diabetes diagnosis, and a daylong diabetes bootcamp with a diabetes educator to learn how to test blood sugars (I was very awkward in testing his levels at home!), give insulin shots, and manage his meals. All I kept thinking was thank gosh I have the nutrition stuff down because the insulin and blood sugar monitoring was about all the new learning our brains could take!

So, here we are now on Day 3 at home and are getting used to our new ways. We’ve only now realized how much more alive Jake is compared to last week. His body is happy, he laughs and jokes constantly, he’s gained nearly 3 lbs since getting insulin shots because his cells are finally getting the glucose they need, and he’s even telling us which finger to prick for each of his glucose checks. Our days consist of 4 insulin shots, several blood sugar checks to help detect low blood sugar levels (which can be serious)–including 2 while he’s sleeping. My husband and I sneak in there like a diabetes SWAT team with our headlamps and blood sugar checking gear. Most of the time, he sleeps right through! Blood sugar checks also determine what kind of snack he can have: low-carb if his blood sugars are within the normal range, and carby if his blood sugars are low. Our days no longer include enticing desserts to encourage veggie consumption at mealtime, and there are no more meals on the run. Meals MUST be balanced: moderate carbohydrates (about 30-40 grams per meal), protein, and fat. Carbohydrates turn into glucose in the bloodstream immediately, 40% of protein turns into glucose 1-2 hours after consumption, and 10% of fat turns into glucose about 4 hours after consumption. A balanced meal means blood glucose levels are less likely to drop too low between meals. We can do this!

Thanks to our previously healthy habits, the nutrition part of diabetes management is pretty much the same, and any changes have been for the better (we WERE probably getting a little too crazy with the desserts…). Today for lunch, we all had hummus (some carb, some protein, some fat), broccoli (a “free” and healthy food), whole wheat crackers (only a few, so Jake also had a banana to meet his carbohydrate needs), avocado slices (fat), and ice water. The morning snack which would have been pretzels, became a naturally low-carb peanut butter spoon, one of Jake’s all-time favorite treats. We’re all having to change some–We, and my other 2 kids can’t be chowing on foods that Jake can’t have (like pretzels at snacktime) until Jake understands what’s going on. But we’re realizing that his diet is actually just a balanced one that leaves the junk behind. We’ll all be even healthier now!

Obviously, this new life is no walk in the park, and my anti-carb-counting and anti-low-carb days are over. I appreciate both now. But, we are so blessed to have this super cool kid, who can still be a kid and live a healthy, normal life. We’re finding that type 1 diabetes isn’t hard, it’s just more. More to watch and do. So we’ll probably just put off getting that puppy for now… 🙂

Even a dietitian’s child gets diabetes, and even a dietitian’s family can improve their eating habits. Stay tuned for a new tab: Bitchin’ Diabetes! And please share stories and tips.

Peace and balance,