Managing Juvenile Diabetes

While still challenging, children diagnosed with diabetes have an advantage over those who develop the disease later in life. Diabetes requires a change in lifestyle, which can be hard for older people who are set in their ways. Your child has a chance to develop healthy habits and a better diet in their formative years, which makes it easier to manage the disease as an adult.

Below we go over some of the basics of managing juvenile diabetes. If you have no experience dealing with the disease, these tips should serve as a handy reference guide to help you keep track of all the things you need to do. Remember to always consult with your child’s doctor for directions specific to their condition.

Insulin Options

Administering insulin is necessary for both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. It is often the most difficult adjustment your child has to make after being diagnosed, but with practice and good technique you can make it easier for them.

Here are a few ways you can administer insulin to a child:

  • Syringes
  • Pens
  • Pumps
  • Jet Injectors

Creating a Healthy, Fun Diet for Kids

If your child is a picky eater, having them eat the proper foods might be harder than insulin injections. The good news is, diabetes patients do not have to eat different foods than anyone else in your family. In fact, the recommended diet for people diagnosed with diabetes is the same as the recommended diet for people without the disease—the patients just have more pressure to stick to it.

Contrary to popular belief, your child will not have to completely give up sugar or snacks—they can still have birthday cake and enjoy an occasional treat. The difference is that now you will have to pay close attention to their blood glucose level and make sure that they are never sneaking sugary or salty foods. You can check blood glucose with a take-home testing kit. It is important to check levels before meals and two hours after eating.

Take this time to learn what kind of things your child likes to eat. Find out which healthy foods they are particularly fond of and start presenting them as special snacks. Your child will not have to maintain this lifestyle alone. There are no special “diabetes foods.” Everyone in your family can still eat the same meals. By following your child’s recommended diet you should notice an improvement in your own health too.

Maintaining an Active Lifestyle

In many ways, children with diabetes end up living healthier lifestyles than individuals without the disease. The consequences of foregoing exercise and not eating right are harder on them, but they enjoy the same benefits everyone else does by sticking to them.

Maintain frequent contact with your child’s physician after having them join a sports team or starting a new exercise routine. Building an active lifestyle is important for them, but starting off too strong can end up doing more harm than good. If you have a child with Type 1 diabetes, you will have to keep track of ketone levels and help your child figure out how much is too much when it comes to physical activity. If the child is involved in a sport, tell the coach about their condition and have them keep an eye out for warning signs that child is pushing themselves too hard, such as excessive thirst or frequent use of the bathroom.

Not every child is going to be into sports, and that’s okay. If going to soccer practice is always a fight, it is less likely that your child will carry on with the exercise once they grow up. Work with them to find some physical activity that appeals to them, like swimming or hiking. 30 minutes of physical activity a day is a good goal to shoot for.

Building Blocks for the Future

Remember to keep a positive attitude. Managing a child’s diabetes can be tough on parents, but by staying on top of it and keeping an upbeat tone, the child will pick up on your positive attitude. The more you “normalize” a diabetes lifestyle in their early years, the easier it will be for them to carry on in adulthood.

This article contains general information about medical conditions and treatments. The information is not advice and should not be treated as such. The information is not intended to replace the advice or diagnosis of a physician. If you have any specific questions about any medical matter you should consult your doctor or other professional healthcare provider.