Meal planning with type 1 diabetes
Planning ahead can help you to make healthier choices for your meals and snacks.
Try these meal planning tips:
- Make a list of meals for the week.
- Make sure to include all the different food groups.
- Have fruit for dessert instead of something with added sugars.
- Make a grocery list based on these meals and what you already have.
- Do not go grocery shopping on an empty stomach.
- Shop the outside of the store and limit what you buy in the aisles.
- Look for canned vegetables with “no added salt.”
- Look for canned fruit with “no sugar added” or “in their own juice.”
- Do not buy chips, sweets, and sweetened drinks.
- When you get home, clean and cut up fruits and vegetables for easy snacks.
- Store healthy snacks at eye level in the pantry and fridge.
Here are some tips for healthy and successful mealtime.
- Eat dinner together as a family at the dinner table.
- Turn off distractions, such as TV, cell phone, and tablet.
- Use 10-inch plates instead of 12-inch ones to help with portion control.
- Do not eat second helpings.
- Take a sip of your drink between every few bites to slow down your eating.
- Limit meals to 30 minutes.
A healthy meal plan for a 10-year-old child with type 1 diabetes has 55 to 60 grams of carbohydrate for meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner).
Children 7 years or older should eat 15 grams carbohydrate for afternoon and bedtime snacks.
Children 1 to 6 years old should eat 10 grams of carbohydrate for morning, afternoon, and bedtime snacks.
Use this example meal plan
- Egg sandwich (whole wheat English muffin and 1 egg)
- 1/2 banana
- 1 cup low fat milk
- Turkey sandwich (2 slices whole wheat bread, 3 ounces of turkey, 1 tablespoon mustard)
- 1 cup baby carrots with 1 tablespoon ranch
- 10 small grapes
- 1 cup low fat milk
- 6 whole wheat crackers
- 1 ounce string cheese
- 3 ounces chicken breast
- 1 cup whole wheat pasta
- 1/2 cup green beans
- 1 cup low fat milk
- 6 ounces light yogurt
Eat snacks with proteins, healthy fats and 10 to 15 grams of carbohydrate to help your blood sugars stay near target range.
10 gram carbohydrate snack ideas
- 4 sliced strawberries with 3/4 cup cottage cheese
- 4 animal crackers with 1 string cheese stick
- 3 turkey roll-ups (slice of turkey wrapped around a pickle spear, slice of avocado, and slice of tomato)
- 2 ants on a log (3” slice celery with 1/2 tablespoon peanut butter and 3 to 4 raisins)
- 1 rice cake with 1 tablespoon peanut butter
- 2 ounces hummus with celery
- 2/3 cup shelled edamame
- 1 slice low carbohydrate bread toasted with 1 hardboiled egg
15 gram carbohydrate snack ideas
- 1/2 apple with 2 tablespoons peanut butter
- 1/2 cup fresh fruit with 1/2 cup cottage cheese
- 4 animal crackers with 4 ounces milk
- 1/2 sandwich (turkey, chicken, tuna, or peanut butter) on whole-wheat bread
- 1 tortilla (6-inch) wrap sandwich (turkey, chicken, tuna, or peanut butter)
- 1 waffle with 1 tablespoon peanut butter
- 3 graham cracker squares with 1 tablespoon peanut butter
- 3 tablespoons hummus and 6 Triscuits
Eating larger snacks
For celebrations or birthdays you may want to eat more than a 10 to 15 g carbohydrate snack. This is okay, but you need to cover it with insulin. The doctor or diabetes nurse can help you find an insulin-to-carbohydrate ratio to cover the snack with insulin. Learn about using insulin-to-carbohydrate ratio from your diabetes nurse.
Not finishing a meal or snack after insulin is given
Children’s hunger can vary from day to day. They may ask for a full cup of pasta, and then tell you they are full after only eating a few bites.
To meet the carbohydrate you gave insulin for:
- Give them more food that is already part of the meal.
- Offer fruit, milk, or whole grain bread or crackers.
- Offer a treat or whatever they will eat to meet the carbohydrate.
Call or email the dietitian if this is happening all the time, if it becomes a game, or if your child thinks if they refuse to eat they will get a treat. We can help you to limit this behavior.
Eating school breakfast or lunch
Making a plan for school lunch is an important part of your school diabetes care plan.
- Call your school if carbohydrate information is not already on the menu.
- Any school getting government assistance must give nutritional information on the foods they serve.
- Please let your diabetes care team know if you have a hard time getting nutrition information. They can help.
- Look at the menu as a family to make sure you get all the food groups.
- Take home desserts from class parties.
- Choose 1 percent or skim (fat free) milk. Do not drink flavored milk.
Eating at a restaurant
Eating out is one way we spend time with family and friends. But, the food is often unhealthy and larger portion sizes than we would have at home.
Here are ways to make eating out healthier:
- Look up the nutrition information and menu before you go out to eat.
- Make a plan for what you would like to eat and how it will fit in your meal plan.
- Think about:
- Sharing a meal or side dish so it may fit in your plan instead of not having any at all.
- Asking for a lunch or kid size for a smaller portion.
- Asking for a to-go container when you get your meal and putting half the meal in the to-go container.
- Asking for sauces on the side and no added salt.
- Skipping appetizers, bread, and/or tortilla chips on the table.
- Do not skip meals to have more carbohydrate at a later meal. Eating the same amount of carbohydrate at each meal is important to keep your blood sugars near target range.
Eating at parties or potlucks
Many celebrations involve parties and potlucks where you have no idea what is in the food. There may be times when there is no nutrition information and you have no way to know portion sizes.
- Do the best you can and use what you already know.
- Look for fresh fruits and vegetables, grilled or baked proteins without cheese or sauces, and whole grains.