Eating and drinking
If you’re dealing with a stomach bug or the flu, eating is likely the farthest thing from your mind. Even if you have a cold you may not have as much of an appetite as normal. But your body still needs nourishment when you’re sick. If possible, eat 45–50 grams of carbohydrate (or 3 carbohydrate choices) every 3–4 hours. If your stomach can’t tolerate regular food, try to consume liquids or soft foods that contain carbohydrate such as regular soft drinks, juice, soups, and ice cream.
Some food portions that contain 15 grams of carbohydrate include the following:
• 1/2 cup regular ice cream
• 3-ounce frozen fruit juice bar
• 1/2 cup frozen yogurt
• 1/2 cup sherbet
• 1 slice of toast
• 1 cup of soup
• 6 saltine crackers
• 5 vanilla wafers
• 1/4 cup regular pudding
If you are losing fluids because of vomiting or diarrhea, try to drink plenty of water in addition to other fluids, if possible. A good rule of thumb is to drink 1 cup of fluid every hour. If your blood glucose is running high, drink sugar-free liquids such as water, tea, sugar-free ginger ale, or broth. Increased liquids will help to flush high blood glucose or ketones from your system. If you need to raise your blood glucose, try drinks with 10–15 grams of carbohydrate per serving, such as the following:
• 1/2 cup fruit juice
• 1/2 cup regular ginger ale or regular soda
• 1 cup milk
• 1 cup sports drink
When you’re starting to feel better following a bout with a stomach bug, ease back into your normal daily carbohydrate intake; base your food choices on what you feel your stomach can tolerate.
How to help your sick child
Keeping calm may be the best thing you can do for your child when he’s sick, and having a written sick-day plan can help you to stay calm. Talk to your child’s pediatrician, endocrinologist, and dietitian about formulating a personal sick-day plan and a sick-day tool kit — complete with some comfort items such as a comic book, coloring book, or even a get-well card — for your child with diabetes.
When you’re sick and pregnant
Recommendations for sick-day care during pregnancy are generally the same as those for people who are not pregnant. However, check with your obstetrician before taking any over-the-counter medicines, and increase your fluid intake to stay hydrated. Since tight blood glucose control is extremely important during pregnancy for the health of both mother and baby, check your blood glucose level and ketones at least every two hours.
Unless you live in a bubble, it’s natural that you will get sick once in a while. But you can keep yourself from getting sick more often than necessary.
Wash your hands frequently, especially after coming into contact with other sick people or objects that others have touched (such as shopping cart handles or escalator handrails). To remove as many germs as possible, use soap and warm water, and rub your hands together for at least 20 seconds (the time it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” twice). Use a clean paper towel to turn the handle on the faucet and to open the door of public restrooms. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth unless you’ve just washed your hands.
Getting a yearly flu shot is extremely important because having diabetes puts you at an increased risk for developing complications of the flu, such as pneumonia. Getting a flu shot is not a 100% guarantee against getting the flu, but it will make it more difficult for you to contract the illness for about six months. It may be wise for those you live with to also get a flu shot for your protection. If the people around you are healthy, it’s more likely that you’ll stay healthy, too.