Kids & Diabetes
Once known as an adults-only disease, type 2 diabetes is now becoming an issue for teens and even younger children. Keep them diabetes-free by making your healthy habits a family affair:
Take family time on a field trip:
If your family night is usually spent in front of the TV with a pizza and a few bowls of chips, consider switching it up a few times a month and getting out of the house. Go for a walk in the park, check out a museum, play touch football or go ice-skating. You’ll be getting fit while making memories.
“Hire” some line cooks:
Learning to cook healthier meals is more fun when you have some helping hands. Appoint your kids apprentice chefs and show them how to make vinaigrette for the salad or mix up the vegetables in your tasty homemade salsa.
Put the squeeze on juice:
When reaching for a bottle of juice in the grocery store, make sure it’s no-sugar-added 100 percent juice. And, just like sugary sodas, limit the amount of juice your kids get. Anything over eight ounces adds calories and sugar kids don’t need.
It’s rare to learn you’re at risk for developing a chronic disease and see it as an opportunity, but if you’ve been diagnosed with pre-diabetes that’s exactly what you’ve been given. Ramadevi Davarapalli, MD, Internal Medicine Physician on staff at Adventist Bolingbrook Hospital recommends getting screened during your annual physical starting at age 30. “People may feel fatigued, have more headaches than usual and just feel out of it, but they may not always associate those symptoms with pre-diabetes, so screenings are important,” says Dr. Davarapalli.
If your blood sugar levels are elevated but not high enough to meet the type 2 diabetes threshold, you likely have pre-diabetes. You also have a choice to make: continue on the same path or take control of your health and stop type 2 diabetes from developing.
Big changes start small
Putting the brakes on type 2 diabetes is all about lifestyle changes. “At the pre-diabetes stage, medication isn’t an option,” Dr. Davarapalli explains. “Treatment is about getting active and eating better.”
If that seems too difficult, keep in mind that you don’t need to change everything at once. Incorporating small changes helps you get used to your new routine:
Eat breakfast: Don’t just skip out the door with a cup of coffee. “Have a slice of whole grain toast topped with a little bit of peanut butter and a cup of yogurt. The protein and good carbohydrates will keep you full and focused,” Dr. Davarapalli suggests.
Have a snack: Dr. Davarapalli recommends eating smaller portions and supplementing your main meals with healthy snacks in between. “Keep your energy up and the hunger pangs away with some unsalted nuts, fruit, baby carrots and hummus, Greek yogurt or mozzarella string cheese,” she suggests. Smart snacking helps you avoid the highs and lows you get from sugary treats.
Walk it off: “If you get a 30 minute lunch, eat for 20 and walk for 10. It gets your circulation moving and starts metabolizing the food,” says Dr. Davarapalli. Enlist a co-worker to take a walk with you or wear a pedometer to keep track of your steps (aim for 10,000 steps a day).
Make exercise a chore: Do you need to carry laundry baskets up from the basement? How about dusting, washing windows or mopping the floor? “We don’t think of our chores as exercise, but these things are physical activities. They all count,” says Dr. Davarapalli.
Think positive: Being told you need to lose 20 or more pounds to prevent developing type 2 diabetes can feel overwhelming. Thinking about it as losing one pound per week is much easier to understand and accomplish. “When you start making small changes, you will see results add up,” Dr. Davarapalli explains. “Don’t set a lofty goal that intimidates you from the start.”
Get help staying on track
Following through on making lifestyle changes is entirely within your hands, but that doesn’t mean you’re alone. The Creation Health Center for Chronic Disease Management at Adventist Bolingbrook Hospital has a team of health care professionals available to help you make and reach your goals.
“The team approach helps patients learn how to take control of their health,” says Dr. Davarapalli. Nurses show you how to monitor blood sugar, dietitians help create an eating plan you can follow and physical therapists show you how to stretch properly and make the most of your exercise time.
“We try to involve the whole family, especially if the patient isn’t the primary cook in the house,” Dr. Davarapalli says. “Everybody can benefit from learning to make healthier choices.”
Learn where you stand. Get your FREE diabetes screening this November when you're one of the first 100 people to call 866-533-7968.