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Thursday, February 14, 2013

Guest post: Diabetes Dietary Choices for Kids

Here's a lovely guest post from Carolyn Fallon of Full on Fit about Diabetes Choices for Kids. Carolyn is a 20-something year old with a passion for life, fitness and overall well-being. She is an avid cycler, golfer and has been known to bust some serious moves on the dance floor.
I never paid much attention to diabetes – that all changed when one of my younger cousins was recently diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes. Since that time, I have taken it upon myself to research the disease and figure out ways to work with all of my cousins to get them on track to healthier overall lifestyles.

What is Type 2 Diabetes?
Type 2 Diabetes is a chronic disease caused by very high levels of sugar in the blood; this sugar or glucose is normally removed by the body when levels are too high. But sometimes, our bodies are resistant to insulin -- a hormone that tells the body to remove glucose from the bloodstream and into tissues. What was once considered to be a disease only for adults has now become a disease for children – with children now being the fastest-growing population of Type 2 Diabetes diagnosis cases. According to St. Joseph’s Hospital Cardiac Center, if proper prevention is not followed, Type 2 Diabetes  can lead to further serious problems, such as eye problems and blindness, heart disease, stroke, and others.

One of the main risk factors for developing Type 2 Diabetes is being overweight or obese. In addition to physical exercise, diet plays a crucial role in preventing this form of diabetes. Parents/families play a key role in helping their children avoid this chronic disease.
Diabetes Prevention Diet
Since the main cause of Type 2 Diabetes is being overweight, a sensible diabetes diet should focus on encouraging a diet that promotes weight loss or maintaining a healthy weight. For most kids, this does not mean a radical change in eating habits. And it is okay to indulge
occasionally in snack foods. The main idea is to avoid making them a constant part of our kid's diets.
It’s important that kids get good carbohydrates – complex carbohydrates. Foods that are considered to be complex carbs are items such as whole grains, beans, nuts, and fruits. Foods that are rich in fiber are also important to eat – fiber can be found in:

- fresh fruits & veggies - cooked dried beans & peas
- whole grain breads, cereals, etc. - brown rice
- bran products - whole grain crackers

Kids do need some fat in their diet – it just depends on where the fat is coming from. Healthy choices include:

- lean meats: chicken, fish, lean red meat – baked is better than fried
- low-fat/non-fat dairy: low-fat cheese, skim milk, low-fat yogurt, buttermilk,
 non-fat frozen yogurt, and evaporate skim milk
- low-fat salad dressings, margarines, and gravies

Additional Tips
Although there are tons of recipes out there that can turn healthy foods into yummy meals for kids, I found a few other things also seemed to help when I was trying to get my cousins to eat healthier foods on a regular basis:

- having them help to develop/create that night’s/week’s meals allowed them
 to have some input into what they would be eating
- allowing them to help with making the meal (depending on task and age, of
 course) – this gave them some responsibility and sense of ownership, which
 made them more excited to eat what they had helped make
- lastly, letting the kids come up with ideas of their own for healthy meals –
 we could brainstorm together to create new meal ideas, or browse recipes
 online to get some great ideas!

If you're interested in doing a guest post on my blog, please contact me at shannon at workingmomgoesgreen dot com.

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