Dr. White, Ryan’s endocrinologist, made his first introduction and visit in the hospital right after the dietician had left which put me in a “just shoot me now” mood. Sitting at the foot of Ryan’s hospital bed with his legs crossed, holding his knee in his interlaced fingered hands, he said the most comforting words to a weeping, new T1D mom . . . “You don’t have to change everything about how you eat or not let him be a kid. You just have to learn little tricks with timing and moderation.” I wanted to jump up and kiss him right on the lips!
So, after much reading, posting charts, buying a scale, learning more about nutrician labels and breathing, we began our journey with a focus on carbs. As you T1ers know, those first three weeks are . . . are . . . I can’t think of a strong enough negative word – horrible, devastating and overwhelming all come to mind but just don’t do the intensity of the feelings justice! But after that, when we got his numbers to more of a “he will live” range, I began trying to put things that we have always eaten back into Ryan’s diet to see how his body would react.
I thought candy would be a hard thing, for all three boys, to give up. Amazingly, that wasn’t hard at all. We keep sixlets, bite-size chocolates and miniture packs of gummies high in the pantry for special times. All three are only about 5ish carbs and sometimes if he has a few extra carbs at the end of a meal, they’ll ask or I’ll offer. Kinda keeps things a little normal. But desserts are the hardest. I love to bake. I bake cakes because I love to decorate them. So cutting out cakes, cookies and brownies was tough. But then my mommy brain started to come back to me after the shock of diagnosis and I got creative. I’m sure that most d-moms do these things, but these ideas slowly started coming to: make cupcakes, NOT overflowing in the paper cups, and ice them with Cool-Whip! Major carb cutting here. Drop cookies on the sheet smaller and mix half sugar and brown sugar with half Splenda and Splenda brown sugar AND for chocolate chip cookies, use half or less of the chocolate chips. For brownies, I make them in a mini muffin pan. That way he gets TWO brownies instead of one piece that just looks too small. Silly sometimes to think about the things that work.
We have always eaten pretty good at meals and snack times. So there wasn’t huge adjustments here, just had to pay attention to portions and carb counting. But I am a major casserole cook. I quit making casseroles those first weeks because it was too overwhelming on my already emotionally taxed mind. But I have a suggestion for all you casserole cookers . . . use Kraft Foods magazine. At the index ALL recipes list nutrician facts. They add up all the carbs in all ingredients and give a total carb cound per serving. HUGE TIME SAVER!!!
Yes, he’s been to birthday parties, end of year parties and a Super Bowl party where the food was sitting out for 4 hours. And he did just fine. We plan ahead quite a bit. But we seldom have to say no. And often instead of saying no, I try to redirect to something else or have him make some choices. And he is VERY mature and cooperative, which is a total blessing and heartbreaking all at the same time. He has brought home candy and cupcakes from school smashed in his backpack because he has already eaten his afternoon snack and wants to save it for dinner dessert and sweetly asks, “Will you give me more insulin to cover this?” NEVER a NO to that question!!!
The biggest victory thus far in the diet area is Steak ‘n Shake. For those of you who do not have one in your area, it’s a fifties style diner that specializes in steakburgers and milk shakes. Nothing that you eat there is healthy. But it’s so good and it’s fun. That was a family fav prior to diagnosis and we’d go about every 6-8 weeks just for fun and always get shakes. BUT a regular size shake is 105 carbs, so a child size shake is 52.5 carbs. YIKES!!
One night, shortly after diagnosis, we decided to go out to eat. The boys suggested Steak ‘n Shake. Ethan, my 10 year old, was so worried about the shake. He wanted to go and not get shakes. Ryan was upset and said it wasn’t Steak ‘n Shake without the shake. Aaron, my four year old, looked at Ryan and sweetly said, “You don’t have enough carbs for a shake.” Ryan’s reply was, “You’re right. I’m sorry guys. We should just go somewhere else.” Well, the stubborn mom in me replied, “Yep, we’re going to Steak ‘ Shake and we are all getting shakes and it’s going to be just fine.” Then I started to pray. Long story short, we went, he got what he wanted, dranks a strawberry banana side-by-side milkshake. I gave DOUBLE the insulin just to cover the shake. Three hours later, when we tested for bedtime snack and shot, he was 143! Woo Hoo . . . we did a family victory dance . . . and then I cried ~ relief!!
Here’s a pic of the last time we went to Steak ‘n Shake. We were having a wonderful meal looking forward to our milkshakes. I always get a Frisco Melt. It’s a patty melt with orange frisco sauce (basically a homemade version of thousand island and french dressing mix). We always order extra because most of us love to dip it in fries. I looked down and saw a used test strip on the on the plate with the extra Frisco sauce. My first thought was that is so unsanitary! My second thought was, that’s our life with diabetes . . . and I left it . . . and took a picture. Made me smile that with Steak ‘n Shake, we’ve won the battle.