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Controlling Your Child’s Diabetes: Diabetic Diet Meal Plan

written by: Keren Perles • edited by: Rhonda Callow • updated: 8/17/2010

If your child’s doctor is putting him on a diabetic diet meal plan, make sure that you understand which type of meal plan he should be using. There are three main types of diabetic meal plans: the constant carbohydrate plan, the carbohydrate counting meal plan, and the exchange meal plan.

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    Constant Carbohydrate Plan

    If your child is on a constant carbohydrate plan, she will need to keep track of the number of carbohydrates in the foods that she eats. Your doctor will work with you to allot your child a certain number of carbohydrates in each meal or snack. Your child’s job is to make sure that each meal or snack only contains the set number of carbohydrates. Your child will take a set amount of insulin daily on this plan.

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    Carbohydrate Counting Meal Plan

    Your child will also have to keep track of the number of carbohydrates he eats if he is on this plan. The difference between this plan and the constant carbohydrate plan is that your child’s insulin dosage may vary from meal to meal. Your child will keep track of the number of carbohydrates he eats at any given meal, and will change the amount of insulin he takes based on that number.

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    Exchange Meal Plan

    This meal plan does not require your child to count actual grams of carbohydrates. Instead, your child will be given a meal plan that lists a certain number of foods from each food group that should be eaten at each meal or snack. The exchange meal plan uses six food groups: starch, fruit, vegetable, milk, meat, and fat. Your child just needs to make sure that she eats the correct number of servings of each food group during the specified meal or snack.

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    Tips to Help Your Child With Meal Planning

    • Show your child how to read the nutrition labels on the foods that they eat. Also make sure that he knows how to look up the carbohydrate count for other foods – either online or in a reference book.
    • Encourage your child to write down what she eats at each meal or snack. A small pad of paper in her purse or pocket is perfect for this.
    • If your child is older, try to let her be responsible for her own diabetic meal planning, checking her notes only very occasionally.
    • Check nutritional labels to monitor the amount of salt that your child consumes as well. Because many kids with diabetes also have high blood pressure, it’s important to make sure that your child’s diabetic diet meal plan doesn’t contain too much salt.