By: Michelle Swader, Dietitian
We are seeing type 2 diabetes appear at an earlier age than in previous generations. In the past, the disease was most typically diagnosed in people over 40, but it is now being found in children and teens. Why is this happening? Many things influence a disease such as diabetes, but achieving and maintaining a healthy weight can help to prevent it. Fortunately, there are things you can do to help your child stay at a healthy weight and prevent the onset of diabetes at a young age.
Healthy Diet: This is not a temporary fad diet, but a way of eating for life. A healthy diet is crucial for all children to grow and learn their best. The good news is that a healthy diet is right for everyone in your family, so you can all follow the same diet to stay healthy and strong.
A healthy diet should be made of mostly:
• Lean meats
• Low-fat dairy products (like milk and cheese)
• 100% whole grains (like breads, cereals, crackers, rice, popcorn)
Snacks vs. Treats: Approach daily “snacks” like small meals. They should still have a balance of a few of the items above, just in smaller portions. Snacks should be 100 calories for young children and up to 300 calories for active teenagers. “Treats” are more like desserts, and should be rare during the week, or for special occasions. This will keep the “junk food,” containing processed foods, added sugars, and empty calories to a minimum, while making sure the foods you and your family eat every day are full of good nutrition like protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals. Here are some healthy ideas to help you plan for the next snack-time:
• Homemade trail mix: 1/4 cup each: whole-grain cereal, raisins or any dried fruit, and your choice of nuts, such as almonds, walnuts or sunflower seeds
• Low-fat cottage cheese, yogurt or frozen yogurt topped with fresh fruit
• Eight ounces of low-fat plain or chocolate milk and whole wheat pretzels
• Whole-grain crackers, string cheese, and fruit
• Raw vegetables with low-fat ranch dressing, and a hard-boiled egg
• Instant oatmeal made with low-fat milk in the microwave. Top with cinnamon or cocoa powder and top with berries
• English muffin or whole-wheat pretzels with peanut butter, almond butter, or sunflower seed butter
• Bowl of whole-grain cereal and low-fat milk
• Small container of low-fat Greek yogurt
• Mini bagel spread with low-fat cream cheese and jam, with low-fat milk
• Hummus and whole wheat pita chips
• Slice of pizza
• Low-fat microwave (or homemade) popcorn tossed with Parmesan cheese
• Hard-boiled egg and whole-grain roll
Look for part two of preventing type 2 diabetes in children later this week.