Nothing says summer fun like a picnic or backyard barbecue. Although your child has diabetes, he can still enjoy the food and fun with a little extra effort and preparation.
“By planning ahead, practicing moderation and counting carbs, those with diabetes can still enjoy their favorite picnic foods,” said Danielle Dimengo, a registered dietitian in Akron Children’s center for diabetes and endocrinology.
One resource that can help is a book Dimengo gives her patients from the American Diabetes Association. The book – “Choose Your Foods: Food Lists for Diabetes” – tells how to count carbs in common foods like baked potato chips or combination foods like potato salad.
Dimengo also recommends a couple of apps that can help you carb count on the go. The CalorieKing app allows you to search virtually any food to get the carb count per portion.
With MyFitnessPal, you can enter recipes to get a breakdown of the total carbs.
She also offers these 6 tips for picnicking with diabetes:
1. Control portions.
If you feel comfortable, bring measuring utensils with you. If that’s not possible, your hand can serve as a guide. Your palm is equivalent to a 3 oz. serving of meat, a closed fist represents 1 cup of potato or macaroni salad, your thumb is approximately 1 tbsp. of salad dressing or condiments and an open palm is about a 2 oz. portion of snack food.
2. Fill up your child’s plate.
Choose from a variety of food groups so your child has a good mix of protein and carbohydrates. Be sure to select lots of fruits and vegetables and try to stay away from the bowls of chips and other snacks.
3. Have 1 big meal.
Rather than grazing all day, give your child her insulin before eating 1 big meal. Allow at least 2 hours before eating another carb-containing meal or snack.
4. Snack sensibly.
Typically food is available the entire time you’re at a cookout, so if your child wants a snack, make it a no-carb one, such as a hamburger patty with no bun. It’s also a good idea to bring your child’s own snacks, so you can be sure they contain 5 grams of carbs or less, such as string cheese, a hard-boiled egg, sugar-free gelatin or popsicles, celery with peanut butter, cucumbers or nuts.
5. Monitor blood sugars.
If your child will be especially active, such as swimming at a pool party or playing volleyball, she may need a carb-containing and protein-rich snack. Apple and peanut butter or half of a deli meat sandwich are good options. Check your child’s blood sugar level after eating and watch for signs of low blood sugar.
6. Focus on the fun.
It’s easy to focus on the food that’s being served at a picnic or barbeque, but there’s so much more for your child to enjoy – from summertime activities like swimming, volleyball or cornhole to playing with the other kids and spending time with family and friends.