Working with a 16 year old who hates to measure food amounts.

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ctaylor Posted: Thu, Apr 1 2010 4:49 PM

Hi everyone,

I am clinical social worker, and father of a 5 yo w/ diabetes, who is working with a 16 yo girl.  She struggles w/ issues such as regular testing and really being on top of her diabetes.  Recently, we discussed how she hates to measure food so simply "eyeballs" it most of the time.  She recognizes this results in inaccurate info but is struggling to accept the need to measure.  One thought for our next session is to do a pro/con exercise that I learned at a workshop.  Other suggestions?  Thanks. 

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I am sorry it has taken me so long to reply to your posting.  It is very normal for a 16 yr old with diabetes to struggle with staying on top of diabetes tasks.  That is why I think it is so important for parents to help teens with diabetes tasks.  Could her parents or a parent help with her blood sugar testing or carbohydrate counting?  I also wonder where she gets her diabetes care?  Could she meet with a counselor that works with her diabetes health care team in addition to working with you?  Good luck!

-Debbie Butler, LICSW, CDE

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Posts 48

I also wanted to let you know that I spoke to a nutritionist about your question.  She had some similar thoughts as well.  She suggested that the parents could do the carbohydrate counting for the teen when they are home together and then maybe they could also discuss some of the typical meals that the teen eats when she is away from home and they could figure out the carbohydrates for those typical meals together.  Finally it would also be a good idea for the teen and her parents to meet with a nutritionist that is knowledgeable about diabetes.


-Debbie Butler, LICSW, CDE

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Meadow replied on Tue, Apr 20 2010 6:53 PM


Buckle up, you are in for the ride of your life as your child grows from 5 to something-teen!  My advice is that the teenager you are helping may actually know a little more than you think about portion sizes and carb counts. 

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You might look into a workbook called Help With The Hard Stuff.  It was recently released and helps teens with compliance issues.  there are some great reviews on amazon and I think you will find this book resourceful.

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Posts 2

I feed my teenager, (boy 17)  piles of meat and vegtables.   (no starches,  no sugars in any marinade)

A whole plate is 10-20 carbs, maximum.  -   

We have a simple rule.     Big Pile Veggies,  15,   Small Pile - Assume None.  Even with 15,   the insulin pump covering is minimal.

When he is on his own.   The only carbs he would eat is a burger bun.  That is almost always the same 25g. 

He has learned to KISS,  Keep is simple and he will feel better and counting is trivial.

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Debbie replied on Tue, Aug 28 2012 2:56 PM

It sounds like you and your son have a plan that works for both of you. I spoke to one of our nutritionists and she does not disagree with eating large amounts of vegetables at meals, but she said that a healthy diet can include some whole grain carbohydrates, low fat milk and fresh fruit. It is important to keep in mind that large portions of protein will add a lot of saturated fat and calories and is not heart healthy.

Also as I wrote earlier, we also think it is important to continue to help teens living with diabetes with diabetes management tasks which include carbohydrate counting, healthy meal planning, and how to cover food when eating out.  These are all great issues to discuss with your child's diabetes health care team.  Good luck!

 -Debbie Butler, MSW, CDE


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