Whether you're turning five or 50, birthdays are a time to celebrate. This is especially true for children, as birthday parties often become some of their favorite memories. For children with diabetes, though, participating in these festivities poses certain risks, with the customary array of carb-heavy treats and, of course, the birthday cake itself. If you have a child with diabetes, you've likely taught him or her that they can enjoy all kinds of activities if they take the proper precautions, and birthday celebrations should be no exception. Here is how you can throw a diabetic-friendly birthday party for your little one.
Limit carbs during the day
People with diabetes can still have a certain amount of carbohydrates—in fact, the body needs carbohydrates to function. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) suggests that when someone with diabetes does reach for carbs, he or she should have smaller portions of foods that are rich in nutrients.
Provide kids with veggies and hummus dip as party snacks.
Keep this in mind when providing party guests with meals and snacks. Serving healthy low-carb foods and diabetic-friendly recipes will not only allow your child to better manage his or her glucose levels, but it also leaves room in their diet to enjoy a little cake later. Here are a few healthy options to include on your snack table:
• Fruit skewers
• "Ants on a log"—celery sticks smeared with peanut butter and topped with raisins
• Turkey slices on crackers (choose crackers carefully; look for whole grains and fewer carbs)
• Vegetable trays
Cut the cake yourself
A birthday party just isn't complete without a cake. How else will the birthday boy or girl make his or her wish? Consider making a homemade cake so you have more control over what ingredients are used. The ADA suggests substituting a half or quarter cup of regular white flour with whole-wheat flour. You also may benefit from replacing some of the sugar with an artificial sweetener such as Splenda. But replacing all the sugar might affect the cake’s consistency. Go easy on the frosting, and top the cake with toys like plastic rings or action figures rather than candy sprinkles, to avoid adding extra sugar.
Cake is still a high-carb sweet. As such, portion control plays a key role in helping your little one manage his or her glucose levels. Cut the cake yourself so you can control the size of the pieces. Here is a bonus tip: Use smaller dessert plates when serving. The portions won't look as small when they fill up most of the plate!
Replace sugary drinks with diabetic-friendly options
Fruit punch and sugary soda may be popular party options, but they can be a poor choice for those with diabetes. That's because all that sugar may cause a spike in blood sugar, and add excess calories that may contribute to obesity. Reader's Digest recommends that those with diabetes drink more water, unsweetened tea, or milk. For your party, water and tea may be your best bet. Tea provides a tastier alternative, and water bottles are easy to store in a cooler for partygoers to grab whenever they like. Artificially sweetened drinks are another option.
As much as possible, keep the party guests focused on games and fun activities rather than food. With a few simple modifications like these, you can still throw your child with diabetes a birthday party to remember. If you're still concerned about your child's carbohydrate and sugar intake, speak with his or her physician, who can offer more insight.