Proper diet and lifestyle modifications are integral parts of treating and managing diabetes, and with children, it is often a caregiver that is fostering and administering these diabetes management techniques.
Therefore it is important for caregivers of pediatric diabetic patients to become educated about the disease and proper diet and lifestyle routines for those with type 1 or type 2 diabetes.
While it is encouraged for both type 1 and type 2 pediatric diabetic patients to maintain a well-balanced diet, which incorporates complex carbohydrates, such as whole grain bread or sweet potatoes, lean protein and plenty of fruits and vegetables throughout the day, there are several differences in their nutritional and lifestyle recommendations.
Children with type 1 diabetes should limit their consumption of concentrated sugars, such as sodas, sweet tea, candy and cake. However, to ensure proper growth and development, it is important for them to get an adequate amount of calories and balanced nutrition throughout the day.
Type 1 diabetics are also prone to low blood sugar levels, so it’s important for caregivers to keep juice, sodas or candy on hand to help regulate their blood sugar levels rapidly.
Obesity is more prevalent in type 2 pediatric diabetic patients, therefore diet and lifestyle modifications are not only focused on regulating blood sugar levels, but also focused on preventing weight gain, and in many cases, promoting weight loss. Caregivers of type 2 diabetics should limit their consumption of concentrated sugars, as well as high-fat foods, such as fried or fast food, while also monitoring meal portion sizes. Because type 2 diabetics tend to have higher blood sugar levels, maintaining a balanced diet should also be paired with at least an hour of exercise daily, which promotes lower blood sugar levels.
Consulting with a registered dietician and/or diabetes educator is recommended for diabetic patients and their caregivers to develop an individualized disease management plan. Our community is fortunate as Cone Health Nutrition and Diabetes Management Center has an exceptional team of registered dieticians and certified diabetes educators dedicated to educating diabetic patients and their families and caregivers about properly managing the disease.
Laura Reavis is a registered dietician specializing in pediatric nutrition at the Cone Health Nutrition and Diabetes Management Center. Reavis received a Bachelor of Science in public health from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2007 and earned a Master of Science in nutrition from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in 2009.