How to Help Your Child Prevent Diabetes

If your family has a history of diabetes, you may be worried that your child will develop diabetes as well. While it's true that family history and genetics are very strong predictors of diabetes, they don't need to determine your child's fate. Diet and exercise have as much, if not more, influence on whether your child will develop the disease. Teaching your children to live healthy lifestyles will drastically reduce their chances of developing diabetes further down the road.

Here are a few tips on how you can help your children prevent type 2 diabetes.

  • -Eat dinner at home as a family. Home-cooked meals are typically more nutritious than meals eaten outside the home. If your evenings are busy and you don't have time to cook a healthy, balanced meal, try preparing meals on the weekends and storing them in the refrigerator until you're ready for them. Or make a crockpot meal: put your ingredients in the crockpot before you leave for work, and when you come home you'll have a home-cooked meal ready to go.
  • -At mealtimes, fill half your child's plate with different colored vegetables. This will insure not only that they don't eat too many carbohydrates at a meal, but also that they get sufficient amounts of each vitamin.
  • -Serve milk or water to drink at each meal. Eliminating fruit juices and sodas will drastically reduce the number of calories your child consumes each day.
  • -Instead of telling your child that she can't have dessert, offer several healthy desserts to choose from. For example, allow your child to select a bowl of grapes, an orange, or a few slices of watermelon for an after-dinner treat. That way she never feels as if she is being deprived of anything.
  • -Make oatmeal for breakfast instead of serving packaged breakfast cereals. If you have trouble getting your little one to eat oatmeal, try this trick: slicing a half a banana and few strawberries over the top of the cooked oatmeal.Then put it in your oven to broil for for 3-6 minutes. Scoop the oatmeal into a new bowl (so your child won't burn herself) and cover it in almond milk and cinnamon.
  • -Make a few simple substitutions in your diet like the ones suggested here to cut back on unnecessary calories and boost nutritional content. Simple things like swapping potatoes with sweet potatoes, white bread with wheat bread, and white rice with brown rice can make a big difference.
  • -Do physical activities as a family. If you get outside and get active as a family, it makes physical activity much more fun for your child. Try going for a family hike, playing frisbee, walking the dog, going for a swim, or playing games in the backyard. Ideally, kids should be active for at least an hour every day.
  • - Learn to read nutrition labels with your child. Teaching your child the importance of knowing what she puts in her body is one of the most important things you can teach her about food. Show her how to find out how big a serving is and how to see how much sugar is in each serving. This is one of the best ways to ensure that your child will be a mindfully healthy eater as she ages.

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