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A Diabetes diagnosis can be scary.. but with a good support network you can not only survive but thrive with diabetes

One of the main focuses of diabetes management is food.  Too often, people see diabetes as a barrier to enjoying eating. Many assume that a healthy diet is boring and tasteless.  Actually, when you get right down to it, diabetes can help your whole family stay healthy by adopting healthy lifestyle choices. 

I know this because it happened to my family.  My oldest son was diagnosed with diabetes at just 17 months old.  Of course, I had a lot to learn about insulin injections and glucose monitoring, but the scariest part for me at the time was what could my son eat and how would that affect our family.  

When I really dug in and realized that a so called “diabetic diet” was nothing more than healthy eating, I had to smile.  You see heart disease and high cholesterol ran in my family, so adopting a healthy lifestyle was helping all of us stay healthy.  Fueling our bodies with the right foods was helping all of us lose weight, gain energy and just keeping us healthier.  Best of all, we were doing it together.  My second son was diagnosed with diabetes at age 9, and thankfully he was enjoying eating a healthy well-balanced diet.  We focused on lean protein, complex carbohydrates, and of course, lots of fresh produce.  There was no need to separate the diet plan for my sons and my husband and myself.  Suddenly, our eating habits were woven into a lifestyle commitment.

Did that mean we could never have a treat?  Absolutely not!! An occasional cookie or frozen yogurt was never off the table. All things in moderation.  We are all heathier because we started adopting a healthy lifestyle.  Make it a family affair this holiday aeason.by focusing on living well with diabetes. 

Managing Diabetes; blood sugar testing 

“He can manage his own diabetes; you don’t need to get involved.”  How many times have you heard these words from well-meaning friends and family?   No matter the age of a child or any person with diabetes, support not only matters but is critical to ensure the health and safety of the patient.

Even if a child can do his or her own blood sugar testing, the interpretation for the results is a complex decision, even for adults to make.  It is therefore, of paramount importance to talk things out so that everyone understands management of high and low blood sugars and how to address them.

You may not be aware of this, but the average person with diabetes must make over 300 decisions concerning their diabetes daily.  These decisions are often unconscious decisions-most people are unaware they are making them; they are so automatic.  Something as simple as: should I (or my child) attend gym class because their blood sugars are running especially erratic on a given day.  Caregiver support, whether it be from a school nurse, teacher, or family member is so important to help ease the burden of these countless decisions.  It is not a matter of enabling, it’s a matter of taking some of the workload away from a patient so that they can get back to their daily life with a sense of normalcy. 

Diabetes or any chronic disease should be woven into the fabric of daily living and not become the main life focus. 

How do we achieve this balance in our family?

1. Education 

This is of paramount importance.  Everyone needs to understand diabetes management, and what the goals of treatment are so that when you see a blood sugar on a meter, you understand the meaning of that number and how to address it.  Parents, siblings, and any caregivers should attend education sessions with a patient so that they can ask questions and understand treatment goal.

2. Enjoy healthy meals together 

Plan your meals with the whole family, let everyone be involved in cooking and shopping.  Read nutrition labels-even making a game out of it to see who can choose the healthiest most flavorful foods in the store. 

Allow an occasional treat; treats are a part of a healthy relationship with food and are often part of family celebrations.  Learn how to incorporate these into your meal planning-maybe even planning on sweets with a healthy twist. 

Try a baked apple with cinnamon and nut butter; sprinkle in some dark chocolate chips if you like. Use yogurt and pumpkin in cooking and baking for a healthy option to add nutrients and

Fiber. Try almonds and berries over a small scoop of vanilla ice cream to ramp up the nutrient value and add some healthy fats. On Halloween, allow your child to “cash in” on the candy by buying extra privileges such as computer time, game time, etc. 

3. Exercise

Exercise comes in many forms and is not only practiced in the gym.  Family hikes, bike riding, swimming, horseback riding and snow showing are just some activities that can be done as a family.

4. Talk about it 

Never be afraid to bring up an issue with your family.  Diabetes affects the whole family and talking about your feelings is an important part of staying healthy. 

5. Involve your friends 

Very often friends will not initially understand what diabetes is-and how they can help.  Low blood sugars can come on quickly, so a knowledgeable friend can help you find glucose or snacks when you need them or know when to call for assistance.  Always let those around you know signs of low blood sugar so you have that added layer of support.   

Don’t forget that at TempraMed we are here to protect you and your insulin from damaging temperatures and to keep you safe. 

 

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