Do you ever eat candy when you think you shouldn't? Sometimes, when you check your blood sugar level, do you find out it's sky high?
Don't feel bad.
Diabetes experts say these things happen to everyone with diabetes sometimes. And guess what? Feeling bad about it doesn't help. In fact, it can actually hurt.
Dr. Lori Laffel and Dr. Barbara J. Anderson of the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston point out that controlling diabetes is really, really tough. Sometimes people with diabetes get high blood sugar levels no matter how hard they try to control them.
As a kid, you might have an especially hard time controlling your blood sugar because of natural changes taking place in your body.
"You have to realize that a blood sugar is just a number," says Mark Bissell, 25, of Keene, New Hampshire. "It's not an indication of whether you're a good or bad person."
And if you eat a little Valentine candy, Dr. Laffel and Dr. Anderson say, that's okay, too. You want to eat what other kids eat.
In the past, doctors said kids with diabetes couldn't eat any sugar. Now, many say it's okay to eat sweets sometimes—as long as you make other changes, like eating fewer carbohydrates at other meals.
Of course, it's always best to discuss your diet and Valentine's Day or any other sweet occasion with your doctor or diabetes educator first, so they can help you work it in.
You're Not Alone
"Diabetes is a family's job—not just a kid's job," Dr. Anderson stresses.
Even though you want your parents to be happy with you, be sure not to lie about what your blood sugar levels really are—even when they're very high or very low.
And be sure to let them know what you eat, even if you think you shouldn't be eating it. By letting Mom and Dad know what's really going on, you're helping them help you control your diabetes.
For Parents Only
Your kids want you to be happy with them. Try to remember that when deciding how hard to be on them for having high blood sugar or eating sweets. The experts say that by accepting these things and not being judgmental, you encourage your kids to be honest—and you make it easier for them to control their diabetes.
By Robert Dinsmoor
Published in Countdown For Kids Spring 1998
Posted February 2000