November is National American Diabetes Awareness Month. It is a topic that we hold dear to our hearts here at the Health Center. What is diabetes, you may ask? There are two types of diabetes: type 1 and type 2. Type 1 Diabetes is when the body can no longer make any insulin. Insulin is a hormone your body needs to use glucose. Glucose is a sugar your body uses to give you energy. This is why people with type 1 diabetes need to inject insulin every day in order to live. Type 1 diabetes cannot be prevented. Type 2 Diabetes is when the body can make insulin; however, it may not make enough, the insulin may not work well, or both. Type 2 diabetes may be prevented or delayed for many years.
Every year we see more and more of our students being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is caused by unhealthy diet and being overweight. It is a disease that is preventable with proper diet and exercise and we strive to make nutrition education a priority for the families at our schools. If you are part of the health clinic and are interested in receiving guidance and support, we are here for you to help with meal planning, counseling, and much more. Simply contact the treatment coordinator at your school’s health center.
You can find additional information and advice on the Diabetes Awareness website: www.diabetes.org. Here we have included some important information to review if you feel that you or a family member may be at risk.
Preventing Type 2 Diabetes in Children
Children and teens may be able to prevent diabetes or delay its onset for many years. Small changes can make a big difference. Even a small amount of weight loss can help prevent or delay diabetes.
Losing weight is hard, especially if you’re trying to do it by yourself. Get the whole family involved. After all, a healthy diet for preventing diabetes is a healthy diet for everyone.
Lose Weight By Eating Healthy
Here are some healthy eating tips the whole family can try.
Drink water — Limit sugar-sweetened drinks including, sodas, juices, sports drinks, and coffee drinks. These drinks add calories with little or no nutritional value.
Eat more fruits and vegetables — If fresh is not available, try frozen or canned fruits (in natural juice, not syrup) and vegetables. They’re more affordable, easy to cook and they don’t go bad!
Make healthy snack foods easy to find in the kitchen — Place grapes, carrots or plain popcorn on the counter.
Limit fast food — When you do choose fast food, make healthier choices:
- Choose salads with dressing on the side
- Choose foods that are grilled or broiled
- Choose diet sodas or low-fat milk to drink
- Hold the mayo
- Choose baked chips or apple slices instead of French fries.
- Order the kid-size meal
Learn how to Create Your Plate — Fill half your plate with non-starchy vegetables. For the remaining side, fill half with a lean protein, and the remaining quarter with carbs or starches, like brown rice or whole grain pasta.
Lose Weight By Getting Active
Limit sitting in front of a screen time to no more than 2 hours a day — This includes TV, computer, phone and video games.
Get moving — Children and teens should get 60 minutes a day of exercise most days of the week. Here are ways your family can be more physically active:
- Walk, bike, or scooter to school. Try a “walking school bus” or supervised bike rides.
- Turn up the music and dance
- Walk outside, in a mall, at a park, or in a museum
- Join your local YMCA
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator
- Get off the bus a stop early and walk
- Park at the far end of the lot
- Play interactive video games that get you up and moving
- Walk around while talking on the phone or watching TV
Set Goals — Challenge your child, and yourself by setting small goals. Reward your successes with non-food items. (Ex. Having a sleepover, renting a movie, going shopping)
Children and teens with type 2 diabetes often feel no symptoms at all. However, be aware of some common symptoms of type 2 diabetes.
Frequent or nighttime urination
If you notice any of these symptoms in your child, contact a healthcare provider.
To learn more, call us at 1-800-DIABETES (342-2383) or email AskADA@diabetes.org.