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Diabetes in Children: Food Issues at School - Topic Overview

New challenges emerge when your child with diabetes begins school. Starting a good communication system with key people at the school can help make this transition a smooth one. It's helpful to schedule a conference with school personnel—principal, teachers, coaches, bus driver, school nurse, and lunchroom workers—after your child is first diagnosed. Do this again at the beginning of each school year.

Your child needs to always have available the supplies for doing a blood sugar test. If possible, the school nurse will have these supplies available also.

Food issues

Snacks, school lunches, and party food are issues that need to be addressed before your child starts school.

If your child takes insulin, his or her teacher needs to understand why snacks are so important. Explain how snacks prevent low blood sugar. Teachers should know that snacks should never be withheld or delayed. Provide details on when your child needs snacks—for example, during the day and either before, during, or after exercise.

Your child can have regular school lunches. If there are many items to choose from, your child needs to understand the meal plan thoroughly to make the best choices. Ask to be informed in advance if meals will be delayed because of special school activities, such as parties or trips, so that your child's insulin or snack schedule can be adjusted accordingly to prevent a low blood sugar episode.

Treatment plan

A treatment plan should list:

  • When blood sugar should be checked and insulin given.
  • When meals and snacks should be given.
  • Preferred snack and party foods.
  • Your child's usual symptoms of low and high blood sugar (hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia).
  • Preferred treatment for hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia and when to notify parents.
  • Emergency contact numbers, including parents and health professionals.

The plan should specify how your child's needs are taken care of and which member of the school staff is responsible for implementing the plan. Your child may need an emergency glucagon shot if he or she is having an episode of low blood sugar. Because of this, the school must select a person in advance to give the glucagon. Your child can then have treatment without delay.

A diabetes educator can help you make a treatment plan for your child. Update the plan each school year.

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    If the level is below 70 or you are experiencing symptoms such as shaking, sweating or difficulty thinking, you will need to raise the number immediately. A quick solution is to eat a few pieces of hard candy or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey. Recheck your numbers again in 15 minutes to see if the number has gone up. If not, repeat the steps above or call your doctor.

    People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.

    Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.

    However, it's important to continue to track your numbers so that you can make lifestyle changes if needed. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

    Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.

    Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.

    One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

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