Thursday, April 24, 2014

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Counting carbs in school lunches

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Buffalo: Counting carbs in school lunches
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For Type 1 diabetics like Frankie Palladino and Justin Henson, every bite can be a challenge. They need to count their carbs and inject insulin accordingly.

"Some kids are every 10 carbs, you get one unit. Some kids are every 20 carbs, you get one unit," said Erica Henson.

But when you don't know the carb counts, estimating can lead to a rollercoaster of effects.

Henson said, "It actually very scary. He can go into a ketoacidosis, so what ketoacidosis is initially is turning your blood into acid and eating your organs. Or you can end up with the wrong carb count and end up with too much insulin and go into a diabetic coma."

School lunches have been a particular challenge for Type 1 diabetics. In an effort to make them healthier, the federal government has changed what schools are allowed to serve. So districts are in the process updating all their menus and lists of nutritional values.

"We don't know if they're using the new chicken nuggets or the old chicken nuggets. And the carb counts are different. The old ones are 24 and the new ones are eight. And for some kids, that could mean triple the amount of medication," Henson said.

"You're just buying a yogurt bar or a granola bar and those used to not be listed on the website. You'd either have to go into the school and read the label or call the food service manager," Patty Palladino said.

With the new food regulations, parents say schools are working diligently to update everything. They say in recent weeks, there have only been a couple instances where the carb count wasn't available. But for some parents, school lunches are a variable they choose to eliminate.

Palladino said, "My son gets a homemade lunch most of the time. And it's not because I don't trust them or the carbs are wrong, it's just I can tell you exactly what's in it when I make it."

All that being said, you're also on a roller coaster called Type 1 diabetes. Every variable in life makes a difference to your blood glucose level. Something Frankie and Justin have already had to learn at a young age.

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