Type 2 diabetes, rare in children only 30 years ago, is now, unfortunately, commonplace.
This is due to our lifestyles of convenience, where we have fast food on every corner, don’t have to walk far and playing games outdoors has shifted to indoor games on tablets or phones. Unhealthy food and sedentary lifestyles lead to problems with
weight gain. And, although many parents are aware that excessive weight gain, obesity and sedentary lifestyles are to blame, for type 2 diabetes, it can be difficult to figure out what to do to about it.
As the weather is warming up, it is a good time to take time, to work together on a plan for a healthier upcoming year, that everyone family member can buy into. See if you can try some of the tips below to improve your family’s healthstyle!
- The Schedule. Establish schedules for meals, snacks, exercise time and sleep. Inadequate sleep contributes to higher than normal blood sugars. Check out the Children’s Sleep Sheet at sleepforkids.org to see how much sleep your children need.
- Wondering what a balanced meal looks like? Go to myplate.gov for ideas on increasing fruits & veggies, for the family meal plan. Schedule at least one meatless meal per week.
- Make time for a weekly family meal planning meeting and include the kids in shopping and preparing meals and snacks, as well.
- Enjoy a meal together at least once a day. TVs, tablets or phones are not to be invited!
- Limit junk food and sugary drinks to occasional treats. The best thing is to have healthy snacks available like a fruit bowl on the counter, unsalted nuts and air popped popcorn in the pantry and keep the candy, cookies and salty snacks out of the house altogether.
- Drink plenty of water and rather than buying plastic bottles, buy a Brita or PUR pitcher, filters, and stainless steel water bottles. This is a $ saver, too!
- Another treat– fast food restaurants. Instead of depending on them, plan ahead for busy day meals. Use the crock pot or pull something out of the freezer that you prepared ahead of time. Rather than drive through the fast food place, call ahead and get grocery store pick up service.
- Instead of rewarding with food, allow your child to choose a game or movie for the family to enjoy, or give let them invite friends for a sleep over.
- Keep Screen Time (TV, computers, tablets and phones) to 2 hours a day.
- Assign active chores like raking the yard, vacuuming and sweeping.
- Play family games outdoors and in bad weather, have family dance parties.
- Invite friends and neighbors to walk, bike or play outdoor games.
- Join a gym together
- Laugh a lot together because there is research showing a relationship between negative moods in children and higher blood sugar.
In the beginning, some of these healthy lifestyle practices can seem to be a lot of work, but after a few weeks, they will become habits. Healthy family habits will lessen the risk of your children developing type 2 diabetes and will make for some happy memories in the future!