MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Imagine being a kid and having to take several shots every day, or having to go see the nurse to make sure your blood sugar is safe. That's what kids with diabetes deal with every day.
It's a constant battle and every day is different. And these kids can't splurge for pizza and ice cream without taking some major steps to keep their blood sugar safe. "When they have parties at school he can still be one of the boys and have a cupcake," said Kelly Watters whose son Matt has diabetes. "He pretty much know the carbs in a cupcake, but I don't want him to think he can do stuff like that all the time."
Carbohydrate intake is very important for kids who have a pump. This device gives the body insulin through a catheter and can be clipped on a belt or a pocket just like a cell phone. But you have to put in the amount of carbs you've had recently to make sure you get the right amount of insulin. "Every time somebody eats they require a certain amount of insulin to bring the blood sugar down," said endocrinologist Mary Casals. "A diabetic patient can't do that."
With type I diabetes the body doesn't produce insulin, which is key in converting food into energy and regulating blood sugar. So for kids with diabetes, a trip to the lunchroom isn't so easy. "If you don't know what you're eating then you don't know how many carbs to put in," said 9 year old diabetes patient Gracyn LeSueur. "Before meal time she gets a shot and each meal is planned out to around 50-60 carbs," said Gracyn's dad Kevin. "Since she was 5 years old she could look at some food and tell you how many carbs are in it."
While counting carbs is important, health experts say diabetics really need a healthy, well balanced diet. "The whole diet is important," said Dr. Casals. "Counting calories is just as important to prevent weight gain."
Kids and parents agree, you can still spurge every once in awhile, but it takes a lot more planning compared to a kid without diabetes.