Holiday seasons and special gatherings can bring a change in weather, regular activities, everyday routines and the foods we eat. Candy and rich foods may be added to our diets, not just for adults, but also for kids. It’s important to take note of the impact this may have on your family’s health, especially if they have been diagnosed with diabetes.
So don’t let the holidays get the most of you and your diabetes this year. As with any other time of year, planning ahead is very important. The following can help you and your family enjoy holiday foods, family and other party gatherings while still maintaining good blood sugars:
· Remain on your normal eating schedule as much as possible. You cannot “save-up” carbohydrates from one meal and use them at another.
· Plan ahead. In most cases, the food is generally the same each year at family gatherings so learn the carbohydrate content of these foods today. This will help you decide which foods to eat and how to incorporate your favorite holiday foods into your meal plan.
· Have a “safe plate” among the many other appetizers and snacks that are set out for guests to graze on. Before the festivities begin, identify the “safe plates” (a tray with various free foods: Jell-O jigglers, meat roll ups, cheese cubes, vegetable trays) with your child.
· Serve meals buffet style. This may ease the temptation of eating large portions of stuffing, breads, and other carbohydrate-containing dishes during meals.
· Beware of ingredients that can make an otherwise low carbohydrate food become a high carbohydrate food. Extras such as cream soups, marshmallows, and whipped toppings may enhance taste and make foods more attractive but can quickly increase the carbohydrate content of an item.
· Plan your carbohydrate intake around meals and snacks. Desserts can be incorporated into your meal plan; consider having your dessert as an afternoon snack. This will allow you to enjoy a variety of foods and still have dessert.
· Be careful of holiday drinks. As with non-holiday times, sugar free beverages are always ideal for optimal glucose control.
· Be active. This will help keep your blood sugar levels in an acceptable range. Try doing 25 jumping jacks during commercial breaks, playing with the dog, playing catch with your family, or turning on the radio and dancing.
· Food does not need to be the focus of the holiday season. Be sure to enjoy time with family and friends. Also, take part in the many other holiday traditions and fun gatherings such as playing games, going to the movies, singing, or making and hanging decorations.
· Last but not least….do not become stressed because you were unable to maintain perfect glucose control during holiday celebrations. Make a note on your blood sugar log of holiday festivities and enjoy the family, friends, and traditions that surround you during this time of year.
DIABETES IN CHILDREN
Type 2 diabetes is a disease which has as its main symptom a high level of sugar (glucose) in the blood. It is the most common form of diabetes. It also is often called non-insulin-dependent diabetes, or adult-onset diabetes.
With type 2 diabetes, the fat, liver and muscle cells don’t work properly with insulin to use or to store the glucose that is in the diet. This is called “insulin resistance.
When the glucose can’t get into the cells, it remains in the blood and builds up until there is too much. This is called hyperglycemia.
It is not unusual for people with type 2 diabetes to have no symptoms early in life. It can be years before symptoms show up.
Your child’s doctor may suggest tests for diabetes for your child even if she doesn’t have symptoms. Screening is suggested starting at age 10 and then every two years after that, if a child is overweight and also has other risk factors. Other risk factors may include:
· Being physically inactive
· Having a parent, brother or sister with diabetes
· Having a family background that includes those of African American, Alaska Native, American Indian, Asian American, Hispanic/Latino or Pacific Islander descent
· Having a mother who was first diagnosed with diabetes during pregnancy (gestational diabetes)
· Being very small at birth
There are some basic symptoms that can possibly appear. Early indicators include:
· Infections, especially of the bladder, kidney and skin, that are frequent or heal slowly
· Extreme tiredness or fatigue
· Excessive thirst
· Frequent urination
· Blurred vision
· Pain or numbness of the hands or feet
TESTING & DIAGNOSIS
Your doctor will assess your child’s symptoms in making a diagnosis, but tests may be used to confirm the diagnosis. Among these are:
· Blood glucose tests (also called a blood sugar test) take a sample of blood to see how much glucose is present. The test can be done after your child has not eaten anything for at least 8 hours (fasting) or at any time of the day (random)
· Glucose tolerance tests mimic what happens in your child’s body after he eats. At the start, a baseline blood sample is taken. Your child will be given a drink containing a set amount of glucose (usually 75 grams). For the next three hours another blood sample will be taken every 30 to 60 minutes
· Hemoglobin A1c (Hgb A1c) tests give an indication of the average blood sugar over the past three months. This type of test may be used in the diagnosis of type 2 diabetes. More often, it is a way to track how well your child’s blood sugar has been controlled during treatment
· Urine glucose tests are done because a high level of sugar in your child’s blood may “spill over” into urine. This is known as glycosuria
There are two goals in treating type 2 diabetes. The first is to lower blood glucose to as close to normal as possible. The second is to prevent long-term problems.
You or your child will need to check the level of sugar in the blood at least once or twice a day. Using a special meter, a small drop of blood will be put on a test strip. After the strip is put in the meter, a reading will appear that says how much sugar is in the blood. Your child’s doctor will work with both of you to put together a plan for what should be done according to the test results.
Diet and weight control are important parts of treating type 2 diabetes. In some cases, loss of weight alone may mean that your child can stop taking medicines. However, this doesn’t mean that she is cured.
The foods your child eats also affect blood sugar levels. The treatment team will help with meal planning to balance the fat, protein and carbohydrates that your child eats. Meal plans will be adjusted to fit both your child’s lifestyle and tastes.
Regular exercise is even more important when your child has diabetes. It tends to:
· Lower blood sugar even without medication
· Burn extra calories and fat to help manage weight
· Improve blood pressure
· Increase energy
· Help handle stress
Talk to your child’s doctor before starting an exercise program. Children with type 2 diabetes usually have to take special steps before, during and after periods of activity.
If diet and exercise are not enough to keep your child’s blood sugar under control, the next step is usually medication. There are a number of different classes of medicines that can be used. Which one your child’s doctor chooses will depend on many factors. In some cases, more than one drug may be given.
If diet, exercise and these medications do not control your child’s blood sugar, the next step may be prescribing insulin. This helps replace the insulin that your child’s body is no longer producing. Because acid in the stomach destroys it, insulin must be given by injection. For great local resources, treatment options and more tips, please visit www.childrens.com and enter, diabetes type 2.