When Your Child has Diabetes
According to the American Diabetes Association, about one in every 400 children and adolescents has diabetes. Although that seems like a small statistic, the number of childhood diabetes cases has alarmingly been on the rise in the past few years. Still, many parents and children feel as if they are alone when diabetes hits close to home.
When your child is diagnosed with diabetes, it changes your family’s whole lifestyle. Meals need to be planned differently. You need to think about exercising. You have someone’s meds and blood sugar levels to worry about. Trips to the doctor occur more frequently, and dealing with diabetes can be quite costly.
But most of all, you have to take care of child. One aspect of caring for a child with diabetes is ensuring they live a life that’s as normal as possible. It’s important they experience their childhood and adolescence in the same way their peers and classmates do.
Read these tips on keeping day-to-day life as normal as possible when your child has diabetes. Everyday activities are discussed with tips on how to keep these activities as normal as possible, while still being mindful of your child’s condition.
One important thing to remember is that your kid is still a kid. Teach them the importance of responsibility, but still be ready to let your child have fun. It is okay if they want to participate in sports. Physical activity is especially important for children with diabetes. As long as your child keeps an eye on his or her blood glucose levels, then he or she should be okay.
Their levels should be checked prior to physical activity, every half hour during, and after. Teach your child how to check his or her blood sugar levels and know the warning signs of low blood sugar and what to do when the levels get too low. Make sure coaches and teachers are aware that your child has diabetes — and make sure you are always prepared.
Be sure that your child carries glucose tablets and any type of fast-acting sugar (hard candy, soda, even sugar packets) at all times. Also, a bracelet that says diabetic (medical ID bracelet) is a great idea and can help ease your worries about your child. If anything were to happen, someone would see the emergency bracelet and know to get help.
Don’t let diabetes get in the way of family fun. You can still take vacations and enjoy your life. It is just important to be more cautious. Always pack double the diabetes supplies you think you might need and schedule a check-up before a trip. Have your doctor write insulin prescriptions before travelling anywhere just in case something were to happen to your supply. Also have them write a letter that explains your child’s condition and the medications they take. That way, if you run into troubles at security checkpoints, you have proof that the medications are needed. Reference TSA and the American Diabetes Association for more information on air travel and diabetes.
When flying or driving, be sure to pack snacks that travel easily. When flying, bring more than you think you’ll need as air travel oftentimes ends up being a hurry-up-and-wait situation. Jelly beans are recommended in case your child begins to feel low. Snacks like nuts, raisins, and beef jerky also travel well. If you happen to be on a flight that includes a meal, let the stewardess know in advance that you are traveling with a child who has diabetes. They should show you food options and let you choose the best for your child.
Parties and Going Out to Eat
When planning parties, try to focus on the events rather than the foods. Ice skating and then searching for the perfect Christmas tree can be a lot more fun than staying home and eating chocolate cake — and a lot healthier, too! If you do have family food traditions, then see about switching the recipe a little bit. Artificial sweetener can replace sugar, unsweetened applesauce can replace eggs, and you can substitute skim milk in place of whole. These small changes will benefit the health of everyone in your family.
When your child gets invited to parties, always check with the host about what kind of food is being prepared. You can let friends” parents know that your child has diabetes and maybe even offer to prepare a food dish.
Your family can still enjoy going out to eat. However, planning ahead of time can streamline the process. Most restaurant menus and nutrition information are located online, so check them out first so you know what the options are. Oftentimes, local mom and pop restaurants are more accommodating when it comes to substituting ingredients and foods for dietary restrictions.
Remember that when it comes to eating out, the portions sizes are usually way more than you need. Ordering from the child’s menu, sharing meals, and taking part of your child’s meal home are all ways to practice portion control when eating out.
Most of all, it is important to make sure your child is leading a normal life. Do not treat a child with diabetes as if he or she is fragile. Do allow them to have a good time. It is okay to worry, but if you teach your child responsibility and inform those around you about the diabetes, then it will be okay. Too much worrying can make your child feel like he or she is a burden, which is certainly not what you want to do. Attend regular check-ups with your doctor and allow your child to ask questions. Talk to your child about the importance of checking blood glucose levels, but most importantly be there to love them and be their support system.
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