My son is going to eat corn dogs and nachos. I am so proud.
Benny's in first grade and he's been asking to buy lunch at school since day one last year. Since he has type 1 diabetes, that's a bit of a challenge. We base the amount of insulin he gets on the number of carbs he eats – and you've got to count each and every one.
We pack lunch every day and include a list of the carbs in each item. A staff member has to eyeball what's left from Benny's lunch and make sure he gets the right amount of insulin. We have a very supportive school staff and so far, this system has worked beautifully.
However, buying lunch is very popular at our school and our 5th grade daughter buys at least 3 days a week. Of course Benny wants in. This week, we're making it happen. I met with all of our school helpers and here's the plan:
- I will print the school menu with all the carb counts the night before. This is a pretty cool feature they've had a for a few years now (it also includes allergens).
- Benny and I will decide what he wants to eat and circle those items
- I'll provide a list of "backup items." (in case they run out of the strawberry-applesauce he wants and he has to eat grapes or carrots).
- His class assistant will walk him through the line to see what goes on his tray – and she'll check in with him after lunch to see what's left over (just like she does now). If she's not available, one of the cafeteria workers has volunteered to help us out.
- Just like now, the assistant will do the math and Benny will use his pump to give himself the insulin.
We did a test run yesterday and found that roughly a quarter of items on the food line aren't on the carb menu. I'm going to make a list and provide those numbers. I also found out that fruit servings are always 4 ounces (helpful) and that most of the desserts are only about 15 carbs (not too bad). Our school district has done away with fried foods and provides lots of whole grains, fruits and vegetables.
Of course, Benny is only excited about eating what I think are the worst foods on the menu, corn dogs and nachos. I can't pretend we eat perfectly healthy at home all the time, but these are never served in my house, which is probably why he wants them! However, I'm willing to trade off some high-fat high-carb lunches – and probably some higher afternoon bgs -for a pretty important step toward independence.
Eventually, he'll have to make his own food choices, count his own carbs, do the math and give his own insulin unsupervised. I don't think first grade is too early to start working on that. I am extremely lucky to have such a great team helping me with Benny – I know many parents of children with diabetes who aren't as confident about the care at school.
Right now, Benny will only buy lunch once or twice a week. Hopefully it'll go well and if not, we'll make any changes needed. So here we go – another diabetes milestone. You'll forgive me if I don't celebrate by digging in!