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Dealing With Diabetes In Kids

If you're a parent of a child with diabetes, no doubt you were feeling a bit heartbroken when you found out that your child was suffering.

Learning that you have diabetes is a hard pill to swallow for anyone, young or old, but when young kids are affected who have their entire life ahead of them and now have to deal with the condition, it seems especially sad.

The good news is that with more and more information being made available about diabetes and more advancements coming out in terms of medications and other self-management practices, it's becoming easier to live a healthy and wonderful life even if you do suffer from diabetes.

This said, there are certain things that you will want to remember when it's a child suffering. Children do have some special needs above and beyond that of adults, so addressing those needs in the context of a diabetes situation will be critical.

Here are some things to consider.

Thing 1:
Children Have High Energy Needs

The first thing to keep in mind is the fact that children do have higher energy needs than adults typically do. Meaning, you can't really put a kid on a low-carb diet and expect them to feel good. Kids need carbs to feel energized and keep up with all their day-to-day activities.

Obviously, the more active the child is, the higher carb their diet will need to be.

To accommodate this, it will be vital that you learn how to properly balance their carbohydrate intake with proteins and fats. It can be challenging to get kids to eat their protein, but finding ways to sneak it into their day is a must. This will help keep their blood sugar levels more stable while still providing the energy they need.

Kids do only need around 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight as adults do, so daily this doesn't amount to much but if every one of their meals contains 10 grams of protein and snacks contain around 5, this will go a long way towards stabilizing blood glucose levels.

Thing 2:
Be Careful With Artificial Sweeteners

One thing that some parents find themselves doing is turning to artificial sweeteners in an effort to help their kids reduce their intake of processed sugars. While in theory, this should work since you can substitute sugar-free foods (but instead, those containing artificial sweeteners) for high sugar ones, the problem here is that these foods are often not much better.

Kids should refrain from having artificial sweeteners as well and often, even though there isn't any actual sugar in the food, it's still not what one would consider 'nutrient-dense'. So for this reason, pass on these as well.

This means not opting for diet soda instead of regular. A better choice is water.

Method 3:
Recognizing The Importance Of Healthy Fats

While carbohydrates will be your child's primary form of energy and there's no disputing that, you should also realize that fats can be used as a fuel source as well. Kids are busy little humans but they aren't always doing intense activity that requires a carbohydrate source. If they're just sitting there playing with toys, there's a very good chance their body can utilize fats as fuel.

By adding more fats to their diet and keeping carbohydrates more moderated, you can get them using this fat as energy more often.

A child for instance who consumes 200 grams of carbs per day, 20 grams of fat and 40 grams of protein will have a harder time regulating their blood glucose level compared to a child who consumes 150 grams of carbs, 42 grams of fat and 40 grams of protein even though the total energy intake of the two diets are relatively similar.

Just be sure that you are encouraging a selection of healthy fat choices such as avocado, olive oil, nuts and nut butter.

Method 4:
Don't Be Too Restrictive

Finally, as much as you may want to just shield your child from all forms of sugar and command them to only eat healthy, know that kids are kids. Do this and it will likely backfire on you. It's still important they are allowed to enjoy foods they want as long as it's in moderation.

So if they have a friend's birthday party coming up, don't tell them they can't eat cake. It's fine if they eat the cake. It's how much of it they eat and the rest of the food they eat during the day that matters.

Let them enjoy their food or one day they will grow up and start eating a much higher amount of unhealthy choices because they've been restricted for so long. I hope this gives you some perspective on how to deal with kids and diabetes.

Daily Affirmation: When I feel overwhelmed, I will stop, take a deep breath, and remind myself that I am in control over my thoughts and actions.

*This is not a substitute for advice from your physician or other healthcare professional. You should always consult with a healthcare professional before making any significant adjustment to a dietary, exercise, or supplementation program, before taking any medication, or if you have or suspect you might have a health concern.