Diabetes is one of the more troubling chronic illnesses people face these days. While it is something you can live a normal life with, even a single forgotten medication or small lapse in judgement can lead to a hospital visit, or sometimes even worse. Millions of Americans deal with this disease, but the scariest trend is the massive spike in diabetes seen in children over the last decade. Most people think of diabetes as a product of aging and poor lifestyle choices that come together to impact an individual over the age of forty. But the Center of Disease Control has been tracking an increase in both Type I and Type II diabetes in children. Part of the issue is genetic, and occurs when the body’s cells don’t properly manage blood sugar levels. But much of the recent spike is due to lifestyle choices, and as parents it is up to us to control things. Here are a few ways you can lower your child’s risk for diabetes.
First of all, you’ve got to address proper nutrition. The snack food industry spends billions of dollars each year to get our kids excited about the latest processed, sugary food. Those things are addictive, and you’ve got to minimize them in your child’s life, no matter the kicking and screaming you face. A good rule of thumb is to make sweets the treat rather than the norm, and focus on a balanced diet every single day. Hunt around online for some menu suggestions, but if you basically center your child’s diet on fruits and vegetables and lower the amount of salty or sweet snacks they take in, you’ll be on the right path.
One of the major precursors to diabetes is obesity. It puts you at a much higher risk, and childhood obesity is swiftly becoming an epidemic. Part of the issue is excess calories, so following that balanced diet plan will help you lower your child’s health risks all around. But you’ve got to incorporate physical activity as well. Come up with a regimen for your child, but don’t make it seem like work. Encourage them to take part in extracurricular sports and to play outside with friends after school. You may have to limit their television, computer and video game time, but the battles will always be worth it. If you’ve got a real video game fan on your hands try purchasing some of those exercise games and make sure they split their time each day accordingly. The goal is for your child to be physically active for at least one hour each day, but obviously the more the better. And lead by example. It never hurts to target those couple extra pounds you might be carrying around, and you’ll be supporting your child to make better choices.
Finally, make sure you are aware of the traditional symptoms of diabetes. This is important at all times, but especially so if there is a history of diabetes in your family. Some of what you should look out for in your child is numbness or tingling in their skin, or if they are thirsty all the time no matter how much they drink water. Wetting the bed may come along with this, which could be a sign of diabetes if they’ve already been potty trained for quite some time. Also keep an eye out for abnormal irritability or weight loss. If you see any of these signs and are concerned, make an appointment with your pediatrician. He may suggest you buy a diabetic glucose meter to monitor a borderline case. But hopefully he will be able to put your mind at ease, especially if you follow the above suggestions.