Dealing with Type 2 diabetes can be difficult at any age, but it can be especially troubling for teenagers, who must also deal with the pressures of youth including self-image and self-worth. As a parent, you can do simple things to make managing this disease easier for your teen and your entire family.
Obesity is one of the leading causes of Type 2 diabetes. Helping overweight teenagers with diabetes reach and maintain a healthy weight may help them feel physically and mentally better and may improve their glucose, or blood sugar, levels.
While the secret to weight loss is to eat healthier food choices in the correct portion sizes and increase physical activity, this can be easier said than done. Getting your whole family involved in healthy eating and exercise may make reaching and maintaining a healthy weight more enjoyable and easier for all family members.
It’s important for everyone to know that individuals with diabetes do not need special foods, just healthy ones. Eating healthy is a good idea whether you’re diabetic or not. Healthy food choices include fruits and vegetables, whole grain breads, low-fat meats, milk and cheese. Limiting the availability of high sugar, high-fat foods in your home can help everyone make healthier choices.
If you and your family have not been active before, it’s important to consult a doctor before beginning any exercise regimen. You may need to start slowly and gradually build up to 60 minutes per day. While playing sports are a good way to get physical activity, it’s not the only way. Going for a walk, dancing and jumping rope are all forms of physical activity.
Additionally, you should make sure your teen is taking medicine as prescribed by their doctor and monitoring their blood glucose levels. When the school year starts, you and your teen should make sure their school nurse and teachers are aware of your child’s diabetes care plan to ensure they’re eating their meals, eating healthy foods, getting physical activity and taking their medicine during the school day.
Being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes is a life-changing event and can be difficult for anyone to deal with, regardless of age. If you notice behavior changes in your teen, it’s important to talk with them about it and let them know they’re not alone. You can help your child connect with other teens with diabetes through diabetes support groups or summer camps.
Here they may make friendships and support each other. If you feel your teen needs to speak to a professional, it’s important that you help them connect with a health care worker, social worker, certified diabetes educator or psychologist. We also offer a diabetes education series “Taking Control of Your Diabetes” to help you become more knowledgeable on the importance of managing the condition.
For more information on dealing with diabetes, contact your Franklin County Cooperative Extension Service at 695-9035.
Source: Ingrid Adams, UK assistant extension professor for nutrition and weight management.