How to protect your child from diabetes

Diabetes is a condition where your body cannot use glucose effectively. Glucose comes from the food you eat and is used as a source of energy.

To use glucose, your body needs a hormone called insulin. Insulin is released into your body by a gland called the pancreas. If you have diabetes, your body either can’t make insulin or can’t use it properly.

There are two types of diabetes. Type 1 is where your immune system attacks your pancreas and destroys the cells that are used to make insulin. Type 2 is where your pancreas can make insulin, but your body can’t respond to it properly.

What’s the big deal?

Diabetes affects the body in many ways. It can cause tiredness, unexplained weight loss, thirst, increased hunger, blurred vision, stomach pain, vomiting, and a frequent need to use the toilet. Over time and if left untreated, diabetes can harm your eyesight, kidneys, heart health, digestion and increase the risk of stroke, too.

Diabetic little ones

Being overweight, inactive and having a family history of diabetes are some of the major reasons for developing diabetes. According to International Diabetes Federation statistics, over 400 million people have diabetes globally. What’s more is that in 2017, the statistics showed that about 500 000 diagnosed people are children with Type 1 diabetes.

Scary, right? Years ago, having diabetes was only common in adults, but with the rise of overweight kids, diabetes in children has increased.

Protect your child

Make diet and lifestyle changes to help prevent and manage diabetes in your child.

#1 Sidestep sugar

Swap sugary baked goods and white bread for wholegrains like popcorn, brown rice, wholewheat bread and oats.

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#2 Banish butter

Choose plants oils with good fats for cooking instead of butter, like canola oil, vegetable oil and olive oil.

#3 Check labels

Make a habit of checking labels to ensure there aren’t hidden ingredients like excess salt, sugar and bad fats like saturated ones which raises your cholesterol. Show your child how to check labels, too.

#4 Have healthy snacks

If your child wants a nibble, offer him fresh fruit and nuts, or finger foods like carrot sticks with a nut butter dip.

#5 Know when to stop

Serve your child smaller portions of food. They can rather ask for seconds. Teach them to eat until they’re full, and not until all the food is gone.

#6 Sip safely

Juice and iced tea may seem healthy but these drinks are often packed with sugar. Rather than juice, iced tea and soft drinks, make water a norm in your home. Serve water with meals and throughout the day when your kids are thirsty. Make juice a treat only and choose 100% fruit juices.

#7 Move more

Break the habit of binge-watching and surfing the Internet. Encourage your child to play outside, go for walks as a family, turn chores into a game and plan outings like hiking or bike-riding.

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