Cooking with your children is a great way to help them learn about food and where it comes from, while equipping them with a range of skills – from counting out ingredients to clearing up afterwards...
When your child has diabetes, getting them involved in cooking meals is the perfect opportunity to teach them about how different foods can affect their blood sugar levels, as well as introduce them to carb counting. Plus, it’s a really fun way to spend an afternoon with your little one.
Blogger Helen Wills and her daughter, Maddie, 11, who has Type 1 diabetes, love cooking together. When Maddie was first diagnosed with diabetes, Helen says she was worried it would stop her from enjoying the food they used to bake together, but she quickly learned it was ok for Maddie to have occasional treats as long as she dosed for them with insulin.
Maddie uses the Omnipod pump, which mum Helen says has allowed her to “bolus a bit more precisely for different foods, once we've figured out the effect they have on her blood sugar”. She adds that the pump also means Maddie can cope better with unexpected periods of growth, or illness that requires a change in her insulin.
Together, they picked out some recipes from Enjoy Food to try at home. Here, she tells us how they got on…
“We were delighted, with Easter coming up, to discover Diabetes UK's Easter biscuits, which Maddie loved making. They were so simple and quick to make that we started when she got home from school, and they were ready to eat with tea.
“I love the fact that they use Stevia in place of some of the sugar, keeping the carbs to a minimum without sacrificing flavour. And using wholemeal flour is better for our bodies than the white, refined variety, and actually it really added to the taste. At 9g carbohydrate per biscuit, they're a great option for a small snack that won't spike too much. She did need to bolus for three though – they were too delicious to stop at just one!”
“Macaroni cheese is such a favourite with kids, and it always was with mine.
"After Maddie's diagnosis with Type 1 diabetes, I started to see people saying that pasta was a problem for their kids, causing lows, followed by delayed blood sugar spikes.
"It's always a good thing to sneak more veg into a child's meal... we'll certainly be having this one again"
“We love macaroni cheese, but it can definitely be tricky to bolus for – all that cheese mixed with the high carb pasta...
"This version helps with that by replacing some of the pasta volume with vegetables (always a good thing to sneak more veg into a child's meal), taking out the butter in the sauce, and using low fat cheese for flavour.
“Reducing the fat makes it heart healthy, and using wholemeal flour in the sauce is a no-brainer really – much healthier than white, and you'd never notice once it's cooked. We'll certainly be having this one again.”
Top reasons why it’s good to cook with your children
It teaches them new skills – from counting out ingredients, reading kitchen scales, estimating how much something weighs, to developing hand-eye coordination skills from peeling, chopping, stirring and serving food.
If you’ve got fussy eaters, it’s the perfect opportunity to introduce them to new ingredients and encourage them to be more adventurous with their food.
It’s a chance to educate them about healthy food and why it’s important to have a healthy, balanced diet, while enjoying the occasional treat along the way.
It’s a good opportunity to get your child involved in carb counting and teach them about portion sizes.
It’s a fun way to spend quality time together.
Recipes for you to try:
Read more on Helen's blog at www.actuallymummy.co.uk.