I made a book for the snacks and foods that he eats, so when you wanted to give him something to eat, I know how many carbs are in each of the foods. Sometimes he doesn’t eat a certain food for a while and when he wants to eat it again I look at the book and I know how many carbs are in it.
Learning how to set limits
We took Billy for a weekend. My husband, Charlie, is a doctor and would be home the whole time, so I thought the two of us concentrated on this would be better. But we fell into a pattern of just watching TV at night. While we were watching his diet, we kind of forgot about exercise. When Billy went home, he was very high and his parents were quite upset that he hadn’t exercised all weekend. Another time we took him, we were supposed to go to a Thai restaurant and order a special thing, but Billy said it was fine for him to go to a Mexican restaurant instead and eat cheese and tortillas and he ate a lot of those little salty crackers that they give you and chips. He went home high again. We just weren’t into being careful enough. We didn’t realize that there wasn’t that much room for play and that you couldn’t sort of be casual. It took a long time for that to get through to us how disciplined a casual person has to be in order to set the proper limits for a child.
A difficult adjustment
Billy was a kid who only ate white bread, only ate mostly simple carbs when you think about it. He ate a lot of mac and cheese, grilled cheese, pasta, fruit and juice. He wouldn’t really touch vegetables except for cucumber, and I had let that happen. The rest of us ate much more healthily than he did. It was very difficult. What happened for us was that the hospital put him on a meal plan that he would like. So he would have 5 pancakes for breakfast and the same food I just mentioned. We were trying to regulate his blood sugars with him having ice cream and a huge number of carbs per meal. I didn’t know any better, so he had huge blood sugar swings. So I would say we didn’t have trouble adjusting to the hospital’s diet because it was the diet he was always eating except that he had to eat more food because they were trying to get him to gain back the eight pounds he had lost. The problem was that he went far above eight pounds. He just started to get really pudgy. So what we did with our nutritionist was we really made him change how he eats. I worked on finding ways not to drive him crazy, but to help him learn to like vegetables and learn to like some lean meats like chicken so that he could have better blood sugar control, and that was the hard part.
Sneaking in healthy snacks
After school, the kids come out of hungry so I would put things I wanted him to like in the car. I wouldn’t even say anything–the food would just be on the console in between the two seats. So I’d put out a bag of baby carrots, or I’d put out cut up fruit, or I’d put out cold cuts and healthy meats. I’d put out cheese sticks, even though he wasn’t a really big cheese kid. All of those foods have less carbs or they’re complex carbs. I would put something out with whole wheat bread and see if he’d eat it. So sneaking it in like that when he was hungry, or when he was watching TV. I limited the TV, but when he was watching, he wouldn’t notice so much so he would end up trying new things because it wasn’t an issue. It wasn’t like we’re sitting at the dinner table staring at him.
It’s got to be said that food matters. Looking back, I’m so glad I figured out what foods are not good for my child, and to get those nutrient rich foods into him so he’s not having what I call, “wasted calories”. He eats so well now and whole family is healthier, but also you just notice that you just don’t get the spikes that make him end up low. He does not have to be on the rollercoaster because his parents are trying to do their very best and they don’t know from the diet they’re giving him what’s the wrong part. I find often times that the difficult part is that you’re doing your best, but you’re feeding your kid things that are kind of uncontrollable through insulin.
He gets tired of some foods, but then all of a sudden two months after that, he wants to eat that thing that he didn’t want to eat two months ago. So I would recommend changing these snacks, changing foods, try to do the best for the child. It’s hard to do sometimes. Fortunately I’m a professional so I can afford to buy a lot of stuff. Some people cannot buy different foods. Food with less calories or less fat is sometimes more expensive too.
Trial and error
I had to find a way to change his diet without him getting stressed out. It’s one thing to say, “Your child should be eating kale.” But it’s another thing to try to find a way so that you have this child is already under a lot of stress, whose life is already completely different–to keep fighting with him at the dinner table, “You have to eat this kale.” That’s crazy. So I had to figure out by trial and error how to get him to like iceberg lettuce. And then, how am I going get him to consider other lettuces? Then how to get spinach in, and then kale? Do you see? We did it in steps.
Making a commitment to living an active lifestyle
The most important thing for us is that he has an active lifestyle, he is in motion, whether it is through play or organized sports it doesn’t matter. He has a Nintendo DS, which I hate, but we make sure it is partnered with lots of exercise. We don’t say, “OK Brady, it’s time to exercise”, but we make sure that he’s skateboarding or running around and playing tag with his friends. When he has the opportunity to be outside swimming or doing something, we make sure that he’s doing that, and that we’re bringing him to different things. So for us, it was just making a commitment to all of us living an active lifestyle.