Care for a Diabetic Child: The Importance of Diet and Exercise
Caring for a child who has been diagnosed with diabetes requires more than just being able to check blood sugar levels; it also involves managing his or her diet, exercise routine and lifestyle.
Diabetes will not sentence you or your child to a lifetime of boring, bland foods. Your child's diet should include plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains as well as foods low in fat and calories. It is recommended by many dietitians that children with diabetes, as well as the rest of the family, consume fewer animal products as well as sweets. One of your child's biggest concerns will probably be not being able to enjoy sweets, but sugary foods are okay – in moderation. Just be careful with sweets as they can cause your child's blood sugar level to spike. Creating a diet plan that the entire family will follow can be very helpful.
Understanding the types of foods, as well as the quantities to feed your child, may prove to be a challenge. For this process, you may want to seek extra help from a registered dietitian. A dietitian can help you create a meal plan that fits your child's health goals, food preferences and lifestyle. In some cases, there will be foods that you will have to be wary of, such as those with a high sugar, carbohydrate or fat content. Due to the fact that fat slows down digestion, eating food high in fat could cause a spike in blood sugar levels several hours after your child has eaten. Keep in mind that you will have to be choosy about what becomes part of your child's diet. There's no set formula to tell you how your child's body will process different foods, but over time you and your child will learn how certain foods affect his or her blood sugar, and then you can adjust accordingly.
Exercise is important for everyone, and your child should engage in play and sports like any other child. Try to encourage your child to get regular physical activity by signing up for a sports team or dance class. Alternatively, you can also exercise together. Try activities like playing catch in the backyard and walking or running through your neighborhood. There are other safe activities you can look into, such as indoor wall climbing or swimming. Don't be afraid to make physical activity part of your child's daily routine.
Remember that you must also be prepared for the way your child's body will respond to physical activity. Aerobic exercise usually lowers blood sugar, and it can affect blood sugar levels for up to 12 hours after exercise. When your child begins a new activity, remember to check his or her blood sugar more often than usual so you can learn how his or her body reacts to the activity. Carry snacks and plenty of water to help your child stay healthy and active. Lastly, keep in mind that you may need to adjust your child's meal plan, medication or insulin doses to compensate for the increased activity.
Source: Mayo Clinic