If a doctor has told you that your child has prediabetes, it’s normal to feel stress or be worried. You might even blame yourself – but you shouldn’t. Getting this news is an early warning sign that your child needs your support in making changes to avoid developing type 2 diabetes. You may find it helpful to know that a diagnosis of prediabetes doesn’t mean your child will automatically develop type 2 diabetes. There is a lot that you and your child can do.
The most important things you can do is to model good habits yourself along with encouraging your child and your whole family to be active and eat well.
Be a Good Example for Healthy Eating and Activity
- Eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day
- Limit portion sizes in meals and snacks
- Serve desserts such as cookies and ice cream 1 or 2 times a week as a special treat
- Turn the TV and other electronic devices off during meals and focus on enjoying eating and talking with family members
- Make physical activity part of your family’s daily routine: walk or ride bikes together, play catch, walk instead of driving when you can, or take the family dog for a jog
- Try to limit screen time to 2 hours a day
Nutrition: Reinforcing Healthy Habits
Encourage your kids to eat healthier by serving meals that follow the Choose My Plate guidelines, which start with making half of your meal vegetables and fruit. By helping your children make good food choices and providing healthy snacks, you are teaching them to adopt healthy eating habits for life and reducing their chances of developing type 2 diabetes.
Talk with your children about how they think they can eat healthier. Make a list of meals together that everyone may enjoy. Here are types of foods to include:
- High-fiber foods such as whole grain breads and cereals, brown rice, lentils, beans, fruits, and vegetables
- Lean meat, chicken without the skin, fish, and nonfat or low-fat milk, yogurt, and cheese (foods low in saturated and trans fats)
- Baked, broiled, or grilled foods (no fried food!)
- Vegetables and salads with 2 tablespoons or less of a low-fat dressing per serving
- Water as a main drink (cut way back on sugary drinks such as soda, sport drinks, and fruit juice)
- Healthy snacks such as whole or cut-up fruit and raw vegetables with hummus or yogurt dip
Amping Up Daily Physical Activity: Aim for One Hour
Getting 1 hour of daily physical activity can reduce the chance of developing type 2 diabetes, and it has many other health benefits, too. The activity can be split up into three 20 minute blocks. If your child is not used to being active, start with a few minutes a day and add on.
Find activities that your children like so that physical activity does not seem like a chore. Consider signing up for a sports team or weekly class to make exercise a regular part of life and a social outlet. If your child is not enthusiastic about sports, encourage other activities, such as playing tag, jumping rope, and dancing. Plan family celebrations that involve being active, such as going to a park to play soccer, Frisbee, hiking, or volleyball.
Can Diabetes be Prevented?, Kids Health
How to Help Your Children Stay Healthy: Tips to Lower Their Chances of Getting Type 2 Diabetes, National Diabetes Education Program
Let’s Move: http://www.letsmove.gov/
Overview of Diabetes in Children and Adolescents, National Diabetes Education Program
Preventing Type 2 Diabetes in Children, American Diabetes Association
Preventing Type 2 Diabetes in Children, Joslin Diabetes Center
Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes – 2015, American Diabetes Association:
Talking to Your Child About Diabetes: Kid’s Health: Nemours:
Type 2 Diabetes in Children, Mayo Clinic