10 tips for caring for a child with diabetes (explained by a pediatrician)
When a child has diabetes, it can be difficult to deal with the situation, since, because it is necessary to adapt the diet and routine, the child often feels frustrated and may present behavioral changes such as wanting to be more isolated, having moments aggression, losing interest in leisure activities or wanting to hide the disease.
This condition can generate stress for many parents and children, so in addition to changes in diet, there are other precautions that should be taken to the child with diabetes. These care can help improve quality of life and reduce the impacts of illness on the child and include:
1. Always eat at the same time
Children with diabetes should eat at the same time and preferably have 6 meals a day such as breakfast, morning snack, lunch, afternoon snack, dinner and small snack before bed. It is ideal that the child does not go more than 3 hours without eating, as this helps to create a daily routine and facilitates the programming of insulin applications.
2. Offer an adapted diet
To assist in adapting the diet of children with diabetes, it is important to follow up with a nutritionist, so that a food plan will be created in which the foods that can be ingested and those that should be avoided will be written. Ideally, high-sugar foods, breads and pastas should be avoided and replaced with low-glycemic options such as oatmeal, milk, and whole grain pasta. See which foods have a low glycemic index.
3. Do not offer sugar
Diabetic children have a deficiency in the production of insulin, which is the hormone responsible for reducing blood glucose levels and therefore, when eating foods rich in sugar, they have symptoms of very high glucose, such as drowsiness, very thirst and increased pressure. Thus, upon receiving the diagnosis of diabetes, it is necessary for the child’s family not to offer foods rich in sugar, carbohydrates and to make food based on other products with the lowest possible sugar content.
4. Avoid having sweets at home
It should be avoided as much as possible to have sweets such as cakes, cookies, chocolates or other goodies at home, so that the child does not feel like eating. There are already some foods that can replace these sweets, with sweetener in the composition and that can be ingested by diabetics. In addition, it is important that parents do not eat these foods either, as the child observes that the routine has changed for all family members.
5. Bring sugar-free candy to parties
So that the child with diabetes does not feel left out at birthday parties, you can offer homemade sweets that are not high in sugar, such as diet gelatin, cinnamon popcorn or diet cookies.
6. Encourage physical exercise
The practice of physical exercises helps to control blood glucose levels and should be a complement to treatment for diabetes in children, so parents should encourage these activities. It is important to maintain an exercise routine that generates well-being in the child and that is appropriate for their age, which can be football, dancing or swimming, for example.
7. Be patient and affectionate
Daily stings to administer insulin or do blood glucose tests can be very painful for the child and, therefore, it is very important that the person who is going to give the sting is patient, has affection and explains what he is going to do. By doing this, the child feels valued, important and collaborates better at times when blood glucose tests or insulin administration must be carried out.
8. Let the child participate in the treatment
Letting the child participate in your treatment, for example letting them choose their finger for the prick or holding the insulin pen, can make the process less painful and more interesting. You can also let the child see the pen and pretend to apply it to a doll, telling him that many other children can also have diabetes.
9. Inform the school
Informing the school about the child’s health situation is a fundamental and very important step in the case of children who have to undergo specific food and treatments outside the home. Thus, parents should advise the school to avoid sweets and to educate the whole class in this regard.
10. Do not treat differently
The child with diabetes should not be treated differently, because despite constant care, this child must be free to play and have fun, so that they will not feel pressured or guilty. It is important to know that with the follow-up of a doctor, the diabetic child can have a normal life.
These tips should be adapted to the child’s age and, as the child grows, parents should teach them about the disease, explaining what it is, why it happens and how it can be treated.
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