According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), nearly 30 million children and adults in the United States have diabetes. Diabetes is a metabolic disease in which the body’s inability to produce any or enough insulin causes elevated levels of glucose in the blood.
CHOC Children’s endocrinology and diabetes team provides comprehensive diagnosis and treatment of endocrine disorders, including innovative programs and classes designed to enhance the quality of life for patients. S.M.A.R.T.I.E.S. (Smart Kids/Teens Managing and Regulating their Insulin, Exercise and Sugars), a special class that provides education to newly diagnosed type 1 diabetes patients at CHOC, features interactive activities and learning techniques for different ages. Additionally, the class provides an opportunity for patients to bond with other patients with diabetes. The patient’s siblings and parents are also encouraged to attend.
As part of CHOC’s diabetes new onset education program, which is accredited by the ADA, the class helps support better outcomes and management of this life-changing condition.
The experts at CHOC offer the following holiday eating tips for parents of children with diabetes:
- Talk to your child’s health care provider. Ask how to best manage extra carbohydrates during the holidays, and what else your child should be tracking.
- Make ready for the feast. When visiting over the holidays, try to learn about the menu beforehand. Bring supplies such as measuring cups if necessary. Practice measuring things at home so you can become a good estimator. Similarly, plan ahead when going out to eat. Many restaurants post their menus on their websites. Check the nutrition information beforehand.
- Slim it down. If you are doing the cooking, use skim versus whole milk, or artificial sweetener instead of sugar in your favorite recipes. The rest of your family may not taste the difference and will likely appreciate the fewer calories and fewer carbs.
- Tell other parents. If your child is going to a party, mention to the host parents that your child has diabetes. This will help them understand why your child is using a meter or insulin pen. Provide phone numbers in case of an emergency.
- Focus on the festivities. Holidays are often centered around food with family and friends. This can be stressful for parents who are attempting to manage a child’s blood sugar. Where possible, try to implement traditions that focus less on food.
S.M.A.R.T.I.E.S. is for new onset CHOC patients and their families. Families are scheduled into one of two monthly classes as a follow up to the hospital education. For more information, including other resources available, please call 714-509-8634.
CHOC Hospital was named one of the nation’s best children’s hospitals by U.S. News & World Report in its 2020-21 Best Children’s Hospitals rankings and ranked in the endocrinology specialty.