Posted by Claudia Grazioso on February 24, 2012
As a devout dessert-ee, I have to say I did take notice when Paula Deen, who inspired me to try more fancy cake recipes than I ever had before, announced she had diabetes. I don’t think I had even thought about that disease for years since we had pretty much already established healthy-eating rules in our house: no junk cereals, no sodas, soft drinks or sugared juices, no fast food (well, on rare occasion), no snacks with high fructose corn syrup or trans fats and dessert only after healthy food has been consumed at the dinner table. But when my kids were babies, I did a lot of reading about establishing good eating habits precisely because diabetes has become so common among young people. If you are just starting down that road with your kids, here’s a brief primer on diabetes.
There are two types of diabetes. Type 1 is not preventable. It’s one of those medical mysteries that just seem to happen to some people though it is possible that it might be genetic. In Type 1 diabetes, the pancreas simply cannot produce insulin. Type 2 diabetes is more in the news these days, and it’s the one that seems to be becoming more and more common among children in the United States. In Type 2 diabetes, your pancreas can make insulin, but your body can’t use it effectively, and so blood sugar levels rise sometimes to dangerous levels. The good news is there are some preventative measures that you can take to protect your child from developing Type 2 diabetes. First, if your child is overweight, help them get to and then maintain a healthy weight. Limit the quick trips through the take out window at McDonald’s — and I mean really, really limit them. Think a few times a year. Instead, offer your child plenty of fresh veggies, some fruits, lean meats and whole grain snacks. Unplug your child from their iPod, unglue their eyes from the television or computer screen and get them outside and moving around. Even very moderate exercise like walking is better than being stationary.
If your child has already been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, follow pretty much the same guidelines. Your doctor might prescribe medication or even insulin shots. But know that some children manage their Type 2 diabetes so well through diet and exercise they don’t even need medication. Teach your child to check their blood sugar levels regularly, and work out a healthy meal system with your doctor or healthcare provider. In some cases, what they eat really can make a huge difference.