Is the activity planned or unplanned?
Planned – the insulin dose could be reduced, and longer-acting carbohydrate, such as pasta, baked beans, porridge, milk, yogurt or fruit, could be included in the meal eaten before activity.
Unplanned – a carbohydrate-containing snack will usually be necessary to help avoid a hypo. Carrying hypo treatments like glucose tablets and a cereal bar is important in case your child does an activity that isn’t planned.
How soon after a meal will they be active?
Within one hour after a meal – more carbohydrate could be included at the meal. If they’re too full, they should have a carbohydrate-containing snack before exercising.
Activity some time after a meal – an extra snack, eg a banana, cereal- or cake-bar, will usually be needed about an hour before starting the activity. The amount will depend on the length of time your child will be active.
How demanding will the activity be?
Strenuous (eg a football match) – blood glucose levels may fall during activity, so your child should have some fast-acting carbohydrate, eg a non-diet soft drink or glucose tablets, available throughout the activity.
Long (eg a long bike ride) – your child will need a mixture of fast-acting and longer-acting carbohydrate, such as fruit juice, sandwiches, fruit bars, crisps and biscuits. These could be carried in a small rucksack, along with something to treat a hypo, eg glucose tablets.
Remember that everybody is different – what might work for one child with diabetes might not work for another. Balancing food intake, insulin requirements and physical activity levels isn’t always easy. At first, it will be a matter of trial and error. Have the confidence to experiment, and check your child’s blood glucose levels to see how you’re getting on. Your child’s paediatric diabetes team is also there to help you.
... and finally
Active parents are more likely to have active children: remember, they will follow the example you set.