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From Virginia, USA:

Our father claims that he has been diagnosed with diabetes. While we believe this may be true, we don't agree with his idea of treatment, and we are very worried about his health. He believes that he can eat anything he wants anytime that he pleases (cakes, cookies, candy, greasy fatty foods). He wakes up and eats eggs and bacon, etc. Then, a little while later, he will have a snack, then a lunch of very fatty foods, then a snack or two, then dinner of the same type of foods (then a snack or two!). He tells us that he can eat anything because he was given a pill that counteracts any problem that the food can cause. When we travel with him he must stop often because he tells us he is getting the "hypos" and must eat. While we understand the importance of meals and sugar we really think this is just an excuse to eat more. He is getting quite overweight and disagrees that an orange juice or a simple candy bar would help him in times of distress.

Can you please tell us what food is allowed? What shouldn't be eaten? What should he eat when he gets the "hypos"? We want to be able to talk with him and council him. We hope to do this as a family and get him back on track so he'll be with us for years to come.


I believe the best thing you could do is find a reputable diabetes education program that you can attend as a family. These programs will provide some one-on-one assessment along with group education which should help all of you help your father.

Unfortunately, we do not have a pill that takes care of everything we eat, so that will need to be emphasized -- the pills only help our bodies take care of the sugar. The extra weight will make the pills less effective and your father may end up taking insulin to control his blood sugars.

The Food Guide Pyramid is a good place to start for information regarding healthy eating. If the doctor refers you to an program that has American Diabetes Association Recognition, insurers are more likely to pay for at least some of the cost of the program.


Additional comments from James Michael Schurig, RD, LD, CDE:

Although meal planning is more flexible than it used to be, it is still important to continue with a meal plan to avoid weight gain (leading to insulin resistance) or erratic blood sugar control. Taking oral agents is not a replacement for meal planning and/or exercise for people with diabetes.

A proper way to treat hypoglycemia is with 15 grams of fast acting carbohydrate (such as 4 ounces of juice, 6 ounces of regular soda, or 8 ounces of low fat milk) them waiting 15 minutes and rechecking the blood sugar level

I hope your father realizes the importance of proper meal planning just as much as taking his medication on a consistent basis. If you need assistance with a meal plan, ask your physician for a referral to a diabetes dietitian.


Additional comments from Lois Schmidt Finney, diabetes dietitian:

Your father is very lucky indeed to have your help in his diabetes treatment. I would suggest that you seek a diabetes dietitian in your area. I would hope that he would go, but if not, you can obtain quite a bit of information yourself as to what to do about a meal plan for someone with diabetes.


Original posting 10 Oct 2002
Posted to Meal Planning, Food and Diet


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