Diabetes Prevention in Children (Guest Post)

Diabetes-awareness-month

Every year more than 13, 000 children are diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (diabetes mellitus, formerly known as juvenile diabetes) in the United States. Recently the growing number of children being diagnosed with type 2 (adult onset) diabetes has raised an even greater need for concern and awareness. I’d like to thank Carolyn for sharing and writing the following article on a very important topic. 

Knowledge is power. Prevention is key. 

Diabetes Prevention in Kids: Where to Begin

Last month, the American diabetes awareness campaigns hit close to home. Since one of my little cousins was just recently diagnosed with Type II Diabetes, it’s been a personal journey to help her and my other cousins all start practicing healthier habits. According to St. Joseph’s Hospital Cardiac Center, one in three kids are currently struggling with being overweight or obese. With obesity and bad eating habits being the two main factors of Type II Diabetes, it’s never been more real to me of how important these factors are, which is what has lead me to working with all of my cousins to create healthier lifestyles in all of them.

Diabetes Prevention 101

The basics may seem simple to people who don’t have weight issues that run in their families. For one, don’t eat bad food. Secondly, get outside. However, diabetes prevention is more than eating the right food. You have to monitor your blood sugar intake and energy output, which means that while you may think diabetes sufferers can’t eat sugar, they actually are supposed to have a healthy amount of sugar in addition to vitamins and protein. However, they have to pay more attention to the type of sugar and how much they intake every day.

myplate_white

Balanced Diets for Kids
The most important thing for preventing diabetes in children is a balanced plate. Macaroni and cheese may be my cousin’s favorite thing, and taking it away looks like a punishment, but if families bond together and eat the same foods on every plate, it’s just as fair and can even be a learning experience for everyone.

Plates should contain a large portion of non-starchy vegetables, which includes broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, spinach, mushrooms and cabbage. Smaller portions on the plate can include some starches like rice, pasta, whole grain bread and beans. The other small portion can contain sources of lean protein like sirloin, eggs, some types of cheese, chicken and turkey.

Things to Do and Avoid

Diabetes prevention comes down to reading labels. There are all types of food at the market with claims of being natural, organic, low in sugar and carbs, but reading the label proves otherwise. It is important to avoid refined sugars, high carbohydrates, ingredients with glucose and other high-in-sugar foods.  Perhaps even more important, is to stay away from preservatives, chemicals, dyes and genetically modified foods. There are several studies that link these all to not just diabetes, but cancer, autoimmune diseases and other life-threatening illnesses. More times than not, these bad ingredients are hidden in our foods. Snacks and foods specifically designed to appeal to children are the biggest offenders, so to understand the labels is key.

organic-food

Kids have to stay away from junk food, particularly in the beginning of learning these new habits. Any treat or sweet may seem like the diet isn’t serious, and we want kids to understand that it is a new direction, not a momentary pause before going back to McDonald’s on the way home.

Fast food and fried foods should also be off limits for a while in the beginning, though once healthy habits have been established small treats occasionally are allowed. The point is that you have to maintain a balance. If they eat a cookie after school, dinner has to be balanced and carbohydrate intake must be monitored.

The Other Half of the Equation
Eating right is only going to solve some of the problems. Kids also have to be outside and living an active existence. For some kids who are sedimentary, like video game lovers and television fanatics, you don’t have to change everything. These are some activities which can be done indoors or outside, and they aren’t that strenuous–meaning parents and other family members can join in too.

Yoga

Yoga for kids is really fun and you can challenge each other to do poses that resemble animals, trees and dancers. For example, Warrior 3 pose actually kind of looks like a flamingo, while the tree pose is fun and yet takes time to master. You just need a comfortable place to complete this low impact exercise, and enough space for all who want to participate. My cousins love to see their progression into harder poses now that we’ve been doing yoga for the past month!

Zumbatomic-web

Dance

Zumba is probably one of the greatest new exercise classes which combines high energy dance routines with pop, hip hop and Latin music. If your kid loves to dance, Zumba may be the fun activity that gets them moving and it burns a lot of calories. You can also incorporate the video games kids like to play by using games such as Just Dance!

Just Get Out and Play

Many of the games kids like to play already have lots of running in them – we like to organize big games of neighborhood kickball tag, capture-the-flag, Red Rover, hide-and-seek, soccer, etc. The kids think they are just going out to play, yet they are getting tons of great exercise by running around for hours without even realizing it!

~Carolyn is a 20-something year old with a passion for life, fitness and overall well-being. She is an avid cycler, golfer and has known to bust some serious moves on the dance floor. Check out Carolyn’s blog at http://fullonfit.blogspot.com/

American-Diabetes-Association

Other Sources: 

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2 responses to this post.

  1. Great Post!
    Carrie from Just Mildly Medicated

    Reply

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