Could this be a sign of diabetes - or WHAT?

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Weary for Hope, Dec 5, 2011.

  1. Our son has huge rage issues, defiance, and some other weird stuff, but this summer he did something we had never seen before. We were on a trip and went to get dinner at Denny's. I believe it may have been kind of late (can't remember) The service was pretty bad and they didn't bring any food to us for a VERY long time. Suddenly, our son became extremely agitated - like freaking out - - - as if he didn't get food IMMEDIATELY, he would die. Now my son can be a drama queen (or should I say king?) and so though I'm sure some of his extreme behaviour is due to a medical problem, he is extremely manipulative. Sometimes, he will go into seizure type things (that he can snap out of quickly) - and he usually FREAKS out when he doesn't get something he REALLY wants. So it can be confusing if he is trying to manipulate or what. (by the way, since we met him - he refuses to take no for an answer - - - he will beg and plead and tantrum, thinking that will change our minds (which it doesn't).

    Anyway - he has done this a few other times since. When he gets the food finally after being very hungry - he gobbles it up like a person who hasn't seen food in weeks - just stuffs it in his mouth very dramatically and sloppily, as if trying to prove a point to us. We are upset about his eating habits. He is terrible at eating breakfast and is a sugar addict. I always find candy wrappers hidden in his room (he's not supposed to have food dyes or high fructose corn syrup). He was having a good period for a while, but after getting his hands on all that Halloween candy, his behaviour become horrific again. He is not overweight at all, on the contrary, he has an athletic build.

    His food freak out happened again tonight. (I explain more of what happened tonight in another post) And this time, he was looking for sugar. He calmed down after getting something sweet to eat. After he went to bed, I was looked up diabetes symptoms - I haven't noticed excessive thirst or urination (though yes, come to think of it, sometimes he complains about being very thirsty).

    I need to make an apt for him and he is due for a physical.

    Anyone experience anything like this? Also, he was munching on a piece of metal earlier - (isn't trying to eat a non food object called pica?) We have been told by the school that sometimes he will pick up a food item (like candy) off the floor and eat it.

    What the world is going on?
  2. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Two key triggers for sugar cravings are... low blood sugar, and stress. Both at the same time = exponentially worse.

    You don't have to be diabetic to have blood sugar problems.
    But... blood sugar swings CAN bring on all sorts of behavior problems.

    So... you have to plan ahead.
    (I know - its a total PITB. But if it works... it isn't THAT much effort!)
    Other than when sleeping, he should never go longer than 4 hours without eating a healthy, balanced snack... ideally, more like 3.
    That includes having a bed-time snack... this one should be small, but balanced... a half-glass or glass of milk is a good one, for example. Not heavy to digest, fast to consume, protein+carbs+fat (do NOT use skim milk...).
    Other snacks... need protein+carbs+fat, and carbs should be as complex as possible (i.e. NOT sugar! you want fiber and food value). A home-made muffin (store-bought are too high in sugar) with peanut butter or cheese, for example or a mini pepperoni stick and a small whole-wheat roll. Still hungry? add veggies. Still hungry after that? add fruit.

    PLAN your sugar hand-outs. Yes, he needs to have them, too - but controlled. Not arbitrary - planned. He needs to know when to expect them. And then... avoid the totally-junk sugar. Use stuff that at least hasn't got the dyes etc... A small strip of quality chocolate could be part of the after-school snack, for example. A few tic-tacs tossed in with an at-school snack. And yes, school needs to support him getting a snack before recess. Yes, before. So his blood sugar is high enough to handle the activity of recess. That might be slightly less balanced... maybe a granola bar, say - something really fast to munch.

    You have to NOT let him get hungry.

    And yes, he'll probably eat you out of house and home for a bit here (maybe 5 years?? - off and on). So, plan ahead with stuff that costs less but he'll still eat... and allow him more of that. For example - my kids love cooked cereal. We have it every morning. When they are going through a growth spurt, they tell me they aren't getting enough at breakfast... and then I bump up how much cereal they get. We don't change how much bread... partly because jam goes with bread, that the whole sugar content goes up too fast. We always have add an egg to their breakfast... but if they are really growing fast, they can have two eggs on a day that is going to be high-output for calories. Eggs are cheap - cheese is expensive.
  3. Thank you so much for your thoughtful reply. He refuses to eat most of what I make him/give him - has developed some very bad habits. I can't force him to eat stuff, but I'll work on being more prepared and having healthy snacks around. Somehow he gets his hands on candy /sugar (from where I don't know) and he hides it. When I picked him up today I had a vanilla yogurt and granola snack I had just bought for him, but after a couple bites, he said he didn't like it (he always says that). He used to like eggs, but doesn't anymore. He has been getting extra treats at the school meal plan (and they said they can't control that). when I bring him a lunch, he refuses to eat it. He's a tough one. I'll try harder thought.
  4. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Yes, you do have to figure out their tastes. My kids (both of them!) absolutely hate flavored yogurt, for example... and vanilla is about "the worst" in their opinion... they would much rather have PLAIN. (no problem... healthier and cheaper? I'll buy into that)

    Leave sweet-but-healthy stuff lying around where he can "snitch" it. Like some GORP (good old raisins and peanuts), or even just some dried fruit (apple slices, dates, apricots, etc.) Sure its high-calorie... but is also high food value and high fiber... definitely a better choice.

    Know where you want to end up... but be prepared to take the long way around. K2 will eat any squash going... except spaghetti squash. K1 will NOT eat squash at all... except for spaghetti squash! But both will eat squash, which is health, and husband doesn't care what kind it is. So, one night, its K2's kind, and leftovers get frozen in small containers. Next week, its K1's kind, and K2 gets a reheat of the one she likes. Even pumpkin pie is better than, say, pecan pie... at least you're still getting that beta-carotine!

    Also, get creative... if he doesn't like veggies, will he eat them still frozen? say, some frozen corn or peas or carrots, as a snack? (because they don't have much taste that way...)
  5. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    The test for diabetes is relatively simple. If pediatrician doctor will go for it, I'd do it to put your mind at rest. I'm all for ruling out the physical first.

    Chewing on metal? Possible mineral deficiency. Might want to have that checked as well. Just a blood test.

    I don't know the background on your son. So I'm assuming that since you said "since you met him" that he is adopted? If so, could there have been periods of time before he came to you that he went long periods without adequate food? This could both cause the drama king reaction when hungry as well as the eating like there is no tomorrow when he finally gets it.......could also explain the sneaking sweets and picking it up off the floor.

    Now I will say when my son was younger.........he had a thing for food. He snuck it (some of the most unusual things too), especially sweets, he hid it in his room, even at age 2 he could eat 2 full plates of adult size portions of food. He was not fat in the least either. And it drove me crazy.

    To the point where I asked his doctor about it. Well now in infancy Travis did "starve". He had failure to thrive due to having an under developed sphincter muscle at the top of his stomach and dropped below his birth weight at 6 months before we finally got the darn docs attention. His doctor told us that sometimes when a person has at a very young age been "starved" or food deprived it tends to trigger what they believe to be an old survival instinct in humans. And they will do anything to get food even if not hungry. It's like the switch doesn't turn off.

    Fortunately Travis eventually outgrew it.

    Just a suggestion. Some kids just obsess over food too for whatever reason.
  6. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    I wouldn't worry. Not all boys go through this, but a lot of boys of my acquaintance have done this. It's a male puberty thing, they are growing so fast that they desperately crave food NOW (usually carbs when the cravings hit) and are extremely irritable and unreasonable until they eat. And they eat like they're starving - which, from their point of view, they feel they are.

    My best friend's son was a shocker for this - he would arrive home from school (train then boat, then walk) and head for the fridge. If anyone was in between him and the fridge he would get aggressive with them. His mother learned to have a plate of food at the ready, but even then it was still unpleasant until he ate. Or on the weekend sometimes he would head back into the house perhaps after working in the garden, suddenly ravenous and desperate for food.

    I saw the same thing with difficult child 1. Less so with difficult child 3 although he forgets to eat, then gets ravenous. We've also had various BFs of my girls living with us at times and their politeness and reticence was at war with their desperation for food. easy child 2/difficult child 2's exBF is a big guy, nearly 7 feet tall. And he was in our lives when he was 17, 18 and 19. Still growing. His need for food was immense but he would send easy child 2/difficult child 2 foraging for him, rather than ask me directly.

    If you are concerned about diabetes, the most important identifier is thirst. If you want to exclude the possibility, a test at the doctor's will check it fairly quickly. Sugar in the urine should not be there and is generally the result of glucose (simple sugar) in the bloodstream not able to be used by the body due to lack of insulin (which opens the doors into the cells for the glucose). When the blood sugar levels get high enough, the kidneys can't reclaim it all and then you get the spillover into the urine. The other thing that happens - if the concentration of sugar gets too high in the bloodstream, osmosis becomes a problem and your body retains water. You also get really thirsty as your body tries to dilute the sugar to a low enough level. The fluid goes through you, you drink lots and you pee lots.

    So if you're worried about the possibility of diabetes, first step is to give him plenty of water to drink and cut out sugary drinks. A day should be enough, although kids really should not be drinking more than one or two sugary drinks a day (that includes juice). Water or unsweetened fluids are preferable.

    Next step - see if you can get some test strips from the pharmacy, or if you're worried see if the local doctor will do a fasting urine and blood test for sugars. Then again - if the blood and urine are tested non-fasting and still measure normal, then you can forget about diabetes.

    But the behaviour you describe - adolescent male. Sorry. You're in for another 5-10 years of this. But it will ease off to only hit hard during growth spurts.

    I used to cook lots of beef sausages and keep them in the fridge. Or cold cooked chicken. It's easy to roast a second chook (chicken) at the same time as the first. Roast dinners are easy to prepare and will keep the wolf under control. Keep the leftover food (mostly protein) in the fridge and keep an eye on the supply. Be prepared for your food budget to double.

  7. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    If this were my child, I would do two things. First, I'd set up a complete medical evaluation. Secondly, I would take him to a neuropsychologist. And I'd do it as soon as possible to try to figure him out before he hits his teen years. Is he adopted? I'm a little confused at "since we met him." Did he have a rough infancy and early childhood? Any birthmother drug/alcohol issues? How old was he when you got him? Also, is he on any medication? medications an starve you...I know this first hand. Some medications make you unable to think about anything but food...this happened to me on many antidepressants.

    Keep us posted and good luck :)
  8. exhausted

    exhausted Active Member

    My husband is diabetic (type 2) and son was prediabetic (diagnosed with metabolic disorder). Neither one was thirsty beyond normal. My son even tested normal using my husbands blood sugar monitor. It wasn't until we saw an endocrinologist and did a fasting then-nonfasting blood work-up that we caught the fact he was headed into diabetes.(This is complicated to explain how they look at many things to make the diagnosis.) We also did an initial A1C. He does those several times a year still. He actually took metformin for awhile but now controls it with diet. Both my guys are large humans-tall, big shoulders and a bit pudgy which is a type 2 thing usually. I don't know about type 1 except I have taught many kids who have had it. When they were low in blood sugar they were all pretty green and sick looking. I know rage and anger can be part of it, I never saw it. You have to rule out everything-it wouldn't hurt to see someone about this. By the way my son would stuff his face-eat fast too. Nothing I did seemed to help that until he hit his teens and it just wasn't cool.
  9. Methuselah

    Methuselah New Member

    My difficult child 1 has diabetes. If your son had diabetes and it was untreated, he would have too much sugar not too little.

    You son may have hypoglycemia (chronic low blood sugar), which can cause rages. Since his brain is also missing the sugar it needs, you wont be able to talk sense to him. He won't understand. Talk to your family doctor. Until then, ALWAYS carry pure sugar with you--juice boxes, glucose tablets, Smarties. If the sugar has fat and protein with it, it will slow down how fast it will get in his system. This is an easy, non harmful fix until you talk to your doctor. You can also get a glucometer from a pharmacy to check, but you'll have to prick his finger. I would just give him a juice box and see if he feels better in 15 minutes.

    Chewing on metal and other non food items is called pica. It is a symptom of iron deficiency/anemia. My Slugger has this. He craved flour and baking chocolate. (Yuck). The pediatrician can run lab work. Don't give him iron unless the doctor tells you, as you can poison him of he gets too much.

    Hope this helps!
  10. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Methuselah, the reason I was suggesting protein is because yes, it does slow down a little getting into your bloodstream, but it sustains the levels. Sugar is a quick fix (necessary for those on insulin who may need to compensate for a sudden drop in blood sugar due to imbalance between medications and blood sugar) but in the long term for someone who is hypoglycaemic without early pre-diabetes, fast carbs/sugar are not good. It tricks the pancreas into thinking that's how it has to be.

    If bloods are going to be done, fasting glucose plus fasting insulin is a good one to start with. If diabetes is suspected based on those results, a glucose tolerance test will be ordered. But there's no need if those initial tests are normal.

    For the symptoms to be this severe due to diabetes, there would be some quickly obvious tests results and, I am sure, there would be thirst. And as you said, Methuselah, this sounds like low blood sugar, not high. You can get a reaction to frequent sugar hits with a sudden drop - my father had this, so did a co-worker. It was a more classic hypoglycaemic reaction and in both cases, would follow from a sugar hit. My co-worker could not have pure sugar without having a hypo about half an hour later. I remember one day he ate an orange, and that was enough to have him on the floor half an hour later. Ditto after a carton of flavoured milk. His doctor said that his pancreas was responding to a surge in sugar, with a massive outpouring of insulin which gobbled up all that sugar and everything else besides, leaving him too low to remain conscious. Over time and avoiding pure carbs, he improved.

    So the management of a teen boy with raging when hungry - I would cut pure sugar intake as much as possible, instead boost complex carbs and protein. Jelly beans are for emergency use only and need to be used sparingly. He needs to find satisfaction in healthy food. A big part of the problem is empty tummy, not just low blood sugar.

  11. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    I have "borderline low blood sugar". I crave carbs and sugar like there's no tomorrow. I have to limit it, though!

    Some of my workarounds:

    Dry cereal. The best kinds are slightly-sweetened, though I adore Rice Chex. Oatmeal Raisin Crisp was great till they added the sugar - but Raisin Bran isnt bad!

    The school CAN limit the snacks. They just have to pay attention. If they have a meal account like mine does - we put 95% of the money into the plated meal account, and 5% into the general account. Jett gets snacks... But... If he runs out of general money before the end of the month... So sorry. (And 5% of $50, being $2.50, doesn't last long when snacks are $0.50 to $1.00.) And if it is a health issue, they HAVE TO.

    He doesn't like it? Too bad, that's what he gets. And you may have to move baking supplies into your closet or a locked cabinet. (When Mom & I went through Onyxx stuff brought back from the foster mom, I found an almost-full bag of POWDERED SUGAR. Ech.)
  12. shellyd67

    shellyd67 Active Member

    If you are unsure, it is always best to speak with his pediatrician and schedule a glucose test.

    I know that when my difficult child and my husband are hungry they are VERY NASTY !!! Once they are fed, they are fine ...

    Let us know how things go ...
  13. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I have hypoglycemia and I am a bear if I dont eat a protein based breakfast when I wake up. If I eat pure sugar or something like a donut or sugary cereal or even oatmeal I am toast. Pancakes do me in. I can have pancakes for dinner though. Thats why I love breakfast for dinner meals.

    If your son tends to tell you he doesnt like what you give him but you are trying for more of the healthy good snacks, they sell chocolate covered banana's in the freezer section...even dark chocolate which is better for you. I LOVE them. Keyana my 5 year old granddaughter likes them and thinks they are ice cream pops. They sell these 100% fruit slushie things in the fruit isle that you can put in the freezer and they look like those ice pops but are really pure fruit puree. No sugar.

    I also adore marshmallows and plain butter cookies. The butter cookies come in a pack that have 3 rows and they are very thin wafers. Dark chocolate is a special treat. I love it. Even more with raspberry in He may like peanut butter. If so, they sell a peanut butter and chocolate spread. Great on waffles or toast.
  14. Thank you for all your replied, everyone. You guys are the best. We just got a new Dr. for our son and he has a physical today. husband and I just made a list of all the things we want to talk about with her and believe me, it's a long list! Hopefully today a real beginning toward some healing and hope.
  15. buddy

    buddy New Member

    OMGosh... I love they have a separate account for off lunch items and the main lunch. Ours is all in one and so we either have to sign they can use it or not. I of course said not or in one day we would have a tray full of snacks and he would have no lunch. My niece fed her friends cookies every day. My sister lost almost a hundred dollars before she noticed. I send cash if he has earned a treat.
  16. No, ours is only 1 account and they said they can't do anything about it, but maybe we'll just make him bring in lunch and give him very limited $. I'm trying to provide more regular, healthy snacks. He saw a new Dr today and his urine test came out fine - phew! (now, just to figure out what's wrong with the brain!)
  17. skeeter

    skeeter New Member

    My dad and both grandmothers were diabetic (all type II, dad controlled his strictly with diet). I was gestational diabetic with both pregnancies, again, I controlled with diet. I still have issues with carbs. I absolutely MUST combine carbs with protein. I can't do sugary foods alone. If I'm getting into the low blood sugar area, I'll get really mad and weepy and such.
    I usually carry some type of nuts with me. I don't eat 3 meals, I eat often throughout the day - and it's good things. I don't do a lot of carbs, and they are always complex or whole grain. My normal breakfast is a piece of whole grain toast with pnb. I eat a lot of salads with proteins, or combine beans to get the correct amino acids.
  18. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Skeeter, that sounds a lot like my diet too, although I go easy on the nuts. Complex carbs, wholegrain. No simple carbs, no sugars. Thankfully I don't get hypoglycaemia problems, but I'm fighting off Type II diabetes.