Actions for Food Service Personnel
And Parents, Teachers, and Anyone Providing Food
The following information is provided on behalf of students who have diabetes who may be purchasing meals from the school menu, eating their own sack lunches in the cafeteria, or participating in school events where food is involved. While we don't want to single out students who have diabetes, there are a few special considerations that can help the student enjoy food at school. It is our goal to offer you assistance and support to assure that the student with diabetes feels safe and secure in your school. The following information will be useful in providing the right foods and helping the students make the right food choices.
The Diabetes Meal Plan
Most students with diabetes follow a meal plan. Meal planning strategies are varied. The most typical meal planning systems are Carbohydrate Counting, The Exchange System, or Calorie Points. Meal plans are tailored specifically to meet the needs of each individual student. The type of meal plan utilized reflects the preference of the student's diabetes team. Therefore, it is extremely important to discuss these issues with the student and his/her parents. Basically, a meal plan for the student with diabetes follows the Food Guide Pyramid. The major difference is that cheeses are in the protein group and the bottom of the Pyramid is all carbohydrates: starches, grains, fruits, and other milk products.
- The meal plan then is a healthy pattern of eating consisting of:
- Ordinary foods
- Carefully controlled amounts
- Regularly spaced intervals of eating
- Sweets are usually considered in the same way as in the regular Food Guide Pyramid. They may be employed in small amounts by looking at the food label and fitting the particular item into the student's meal plan (e.g., 2 Oreo cookies equal 1 Carbohydrate serving).
The School Lunch Program
- Usually considered when creating a Meal Plan for a school-aged student with diabetes
- Good variety of foods offered
- The lunch menus may need some replacements:
- Carbohydrates may need to be added or deleted
- Some parents may want especially "sweet" desserts replaced with fruit of some sort
- Most students with diabetes can make their own appropriate choices from a school lunch menu
- Parents should be given school lunch menus in advance so they can help their student make appropriate choices
- It is critical that meals and snacks be eaten on time. Otherwise, the student may have a low blood sugar reaction, especially if he or she missed a morning snack or was very active at recess or in PE class.
- It may help the student if all members of the class get healthy snacks at the same time. This way the student with diabetes will be able to eat in the classroom and feel less different. Some suggestions for classroom snacks include:
Bagels with lowfat cream cheese
Crackers with peanut butter or cheese filling
Graham or saltine crackers
Fruit with plain yogurt
- If meal times are delayed, an extra snack needs to be eaten.
- Low blood sugar prevention guidelines need to be discussed with the parents and established as part of the student's individual diabetes management program.
- Be familiar with the signs, symptoms and treatment of low blood sugar (insulin reaction).
- Develop a plan of action for managing low blood sugar and emergencies.
Keep a list of appropriate snacks to have on hand should this situation arise for any reason.
Parties And Occasions Involving Food Treats
- There are many occasions (e.g., birthdays, Halloween, school functions) where treats are provided by parents, teachers, and the school food service personnel.
- It is important that the student with diabetes participate in all celebrations and events.
- The student with diabetes can usually have the same treats as the student who doesn't have diabetes provided, of course, they are figured into the student's diabetes meal plan. The following may help making inclusion of students easier:
- Send a note to whomever is responsible for the food and ask that they provide copies of all recipes.
- Share copies of all recipes with parent(s) of the student with diabetes so they can accommodate the carbohydrates in the food into their child's meal planning.
- If purchased food is used, review the food labels for carbohydrate content to see how the treat can be fit into the student's meal plan.
- Make sure the student's parents are aware of the party.
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This Internet site provides information of a general nature and is designed for educational purposes only. If you have any concerns about your own health or the health of your child, you should always consult with a physician or other health care professional.
This site is published by T-1 Today, Inc. (d/b/a Children with Diabetes), a 501c3 not-for-profit organization, which is responsible for its contents. Our mission is to provide education and support to families living with type 1 diabetes.
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