Preventing Type 2 Diabetes in Your Child
Within the United States, it is estimated that as many as 95% of the population has Type 2 Diabetes (this includes both diagnosed and undiagnosed cases). Although this is a startling statistic, I am even more concerned with the amount of children affected by this formerly “adult-onset disease.“ Detection of Type 2 Diabetes in children is difficult. And currently, according to Syracuse’s St. Joseph’s Cardiac Hospital, 215,000 children under the age of 20 are currently diagnosed with the disease, and this number continues to steadily grow at an exponential rate.
Unfortunately, my little cousin is now one of these 215,000 children. Since we found out about her diagnosis with Type 2 last November, my family has been working together to help get my cousin healthier, and to help prevent any other family members from developing this disease. With February being National Heart Month, and the fact that diabetes has a direct connection to heart disease, what better time than now to start working with your family to get active and healthy this 2013? Here are a few tips to get you started:
A Nutritious Diet
Getting kids to start eating healthier doesn’t have to be as bad as pulling teeth! It takes clear guidelines, creativity, persistence, and family involvement and commitment.
A yummy and healthy alternative to syrup-loaded waffles
Instead of popping a couple Eggos into the toaster and smothering them with your child’s favorite syrup, try making a smoothie for breakfast! Smoothies for breakfast offer a complete, balanced meal in minutes because they can combine dairy, and lots of fresh fruits and veggies that can be difficult to get kids to eat on their own!
Drink the right kind of liquids
Fruit juice consists of the sugar removed from the fruit minus the fiber needed to process it. It is not much better for your child than a can of cola. So, instead, make sure to serve 100% juice. Also, kids should drink from 5-8 glasses of water each day – if they don’t like pure water, cut up some lemons or cucumbers and add for extra flavor.
Healthy snacks are important, and let’s admit it, kids are always going to want to snack between meals. Instead of depriving kids of snacks, have smaller portion of regular meals, and have healthy snacks on hand to hold them over until meal times. Raw nuts and seeds, vegetables with hummus or guacamole and apple slices dipped in nut butter are excellent snacks for growing children without the added salt and sugar.
Cut processed foods.
Boxes and bags in the pantry are often indicators that the food is less than ideal for your child. Offer whole, unprocessed foods as much as possible. A general rule of thumb: if it can sit in your pantry for months without going bad, changes are it’s not that healthy!
As adults, it’s important to model good exercise habits. If your children never see you move anything but the remote, it is not likely that they themselves will be interested in exercise wither. Getting off the couch and moving will benefit you and your child!
Discourage sedentary activities.
Limit the times screens can be used in your home, and stick to it. If your children want something to do, make them find some kind of physical activity to replace the screen time.
Enjoy the outdoors.
Children need the Vitamin D they often lack in the colder seasons. Encourage them to bundle up and build a snowman, make snow angels or go sledding. They will get the benefits of fresh air, and won’t even realize they are “exercising” as they are running around in the snow!
Make it fun!
Children are made to play. Help them find the activities they love. If they enjoy biking, provide a good bicycle and help them find a place to ride. The same goes for roller blading, sports, hiking, etc.
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 been known to bust some serious moves on the dance floor. Check out Carolyn’s blog at http://fullonfit.blogspot.com/!