Parents are usually concerned that their children eat the right foods when returning back to a new school year. The lure of vending machines, student union stores and poor cafeteria choices may become a temptation. Discover 8 healthy back to school foods when you have diabetes that tastes great, too!
- While the government and public schools are working hard to improve the quality of school lunches some of the menu items may not be suitable for children with diabetes. Packing your child’s lunch and snacks gives you better control over their food choices. The support staff at school should be reminded about the importance of proper daily nutrition. Make sure to have plenty of healthy snacks on-hand when your child gets home from school as well.
- Sandwiches are easy and satisfying with protein and carbohydrates. Learn how to make a healthy sandwich your child will enjoy any time of the day. Substitute whole grain bread for white bread. Swap out fattening processed meats, such as bologna or salami, for grilled chicken, tuna fish, or roasted turkey. Use mustard as a delicious low-fat condiment. Top off the sandwich with lots of vegetables for fiber including avocado, tomato, lettuce and shredded carrots. Use natural low fat cheese rather than a slice of processed cheese.
- It can be tempting for a child to eat chips with a sandwich or as a snack. Instead of giving your child greasy and salty potato chips, look for baked chips in small individual packages. There are also many varieties of vegetable chips on the market such as kale, zucchini, green bean or carrot chips. Substitute nuts for chips, in small quantities such as almonds and walnuts which contain protein and fat. They will keep your child energized without causing his or her blood sugar to rise.
- Another tasty, guilt-free treat is cut up raw vegetables served with hummus or fat-free, calorie-free salad dressing; include cherry tomatoes, carrots, mushrooms, broccoli, cauliflower and celery. This is an effective way to get your child to eat vegetables for essential nutrients, including vitamins A, B and E.
- A child will eat a salad if it includes plenty of unique ingredients. Toss together mixed greens or spinach with slices of apple, mandarin oranges and strawberries. This fresh mixture of flavors and textures keeps kids coming back. Add a handful of raisins, cranberries and sunflower seeds for a unique and filling salad. Mix mozzarella cheese, tomatoes, fresh basil and olives with grilled chicken to turn a salad into a quick complete meal. Encourage your child to participate in sports to get at least 30 minutes of exercise each day. Talk to your child’s health care team before starting any exercise or sports program.
- Children tend to want foods that are fun to eat and can be carried around while they do other things. Low-fat string cheese is a healthy snack on-the-go. Fresh, low-fat cheese with whole grain crackers provides calcium and fiber. You can also serve the whole grain crackers with a tablespoon of peanut or almond butter.
- Another tasty and portable option is to make melon balls, using melons such as cantaloupe, casaba, honeydew and watermelon. Fruits are carbohydrates and if eaten in large portions may cause high blood sugar fluctuations.
- Berries including raspberries, blackberries, strawberries and blueberries are filled with essential nutrients. Serve them in thin slices for your child to snack on. Transform them into an irresistible dessert by topping them off with low-fat, sugar-free whipped cream. You can also add them to sugar-free gelatin to create a dessert everyone in the house is sure to love.
- Keep certain snacks around at home and at school to help your child if he or she experiences low blood sugar. This can include 6 ounces of regular soda or a small cup of orange juice, low-fat or nonfat milk, and 2 tablespoons of raisins. Verify that the school workers have a glucagon emergency kit and know how to use it. Give your child glucose tablets to chew in case of hypoglycemia. Make sure the staff has extra tablets as well. For a treat at a class party bring sugar free candy which should not cause blood sugar spikes when eaten in proper serving size. Remember, it may cause an upset stomach if eaten in large portions. Be sure to include sugar- free liquids including water so they will stay hydrated all day long.
These healthy back-to-school foods to help your child avoid temptation and learn better eating habits for a lifetime. Be an example to your child with diabetes and eat healthy snacks, too. With some education and planning, your child can avoid blood sugar fluctuations and enjoy delicious foods.