Family Behavior Can Lead to Diabetes-Related Eating Disorders

In the article “Family Behavior Can Lead to Diabetes-Related Eating Disorders,” the author, Craig Idlebrook, summarizes an argument from pediatric diabetes dietitian Carmel Smart that parents may actually be harming their children who have Type 1 diabetes when they are actually trying to help them. Smart suggests that parents who enforce strict carbohydrate limitations on their diabetic children actually cause the children to develop poor eating habits that in turn impact the children’s daily lives.

Smart suggests that there are two ways that this situation can be improved upon: through changed physician behavior and changed parental behavior. Rather than having a general discussion about carbohydrates with the parents, the physicians should go into more detail about how different types of carbohydrates impact glucose management differently. Additionally, physicians should consider each child’s individual needs when helping to prescribe an appropriate food and medication regimen for the child. From the parental side, parents should make sure their children are on a regular schedule when it comes to eating full meals. Both the parents and the physicians should foster positive relationships and open lines of communication with each other and work together to come up with a good plan for managing the child’s glucose levels.

Key Points:

  • 1Many families of children with Type 1 diabetes are unsure of the types of restrictions they should make to their childrens’ diets, and often make limitations that impact them negatively.
  • 2Improperly restricting carbohydrates consumed by Type 1 children can lead to eating disorders and unsuitable glucose management.
  • 3Caregivers must work with the families of Type 1 children to develop organized, diabetes-friendly diets that ensure these children receive a fixed amount of carbohydrates and insulin.

One study of 700 children with Type 1 over a four-week period found that 40 percent of those children had unnecessary carbohydrates restrictions imposed on them by caregivers.

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