My son is 15 and had type 1 diabetes. Currently we have been having problems his blood sugar levels (highs) and his diet. He's a typical teenager & loves junk food & diet sodas. He will not eat vegetables! Rarely I can get him to eat a salad however, it usually consists of lettuce & other veggies! Do you have any suggestions on how I can help to supplement his diet so he receives more nutrients? Thanks! --Frustrated Mom

Management of blood sugar levels in the setting of type I diabetes can be tricky. Unfortunately, helping a teenager eat helpfully can be a challenging task as well! First, I would make sure your son understands the basics of diabetes and nutrition. It is important that he know the dangers of consistent high (and low) blood sugar levels and their impact on the body and effect on his growth and development. Next, I would begin to look at his diet as a whole and assess areas in which he is making healthy food choices and then pin point specific areas that need improvement. Have discussion with him and praise him for specific healthy food choices. I would avoid pointing out all the things that he is taking in that are “bad” for him initially, as it will put him on the defense and he may close himself off to suggestions altogether. Follow this with 3 specific areas that may need help. If he consistently skips breakfast, make this an important area of focus. Offer suggestions for quick and easy (but healthy) options for him. Fruit smoothies have been very popular lately and can be made in a healthy manner using yogurt, protein powder, and fruit. You have mentioned that he does not like to eat his vegetables. It may be helpful to change the manner that vegetables are presented in your household. Instead of mashed sweet potatoes, cut them into strips and sprinkle with seasoning and olive oil and bake them into “fries”. Try topping steamed broccoli with a mixture of Parmesan and Romano cheese or add additional vegetables to your family’s favorite entrees (add mushrooms to spaghetti sauce and peppers/onions to chili). If your son chooses high fat/calorie snack foods, I suggest that you try to find healthier snack alternatives. Stock up on pita chips/hummus, veggie chips with low fat dip, homemade salsa paired with whole grain crackers or rice cakes. Finally, I would continue communication about healthy nutrition with your son. Challenge him to try new healthy foods that he is unfamiliar with (various vegetables, quinoa, couscous, Greek yogurt etc). He may just stumble upon a new healthy food that he likes and you will be able to build upon this and create an overall healthy meal plan for him.

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