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This is the third - and final - installment of our three-part series "Handing Down the Genes." Part III: "Nutrition and Exercise Tips"
Tips provided by Nancy Heinrich, founder of Growing Healthy Kids; Gabriella Grinstein, pediatric endocrinologist; and Susan Dopart, registered dietitian and exercise physiologist. For more snack and meal ideas, see Dopart's blog at http://www.susandopart.com/blog.
Get kids involved
Enlisting kids in an effort to improve your family's eating habits can be helpful to you and fun and educational for them.
Susan Dopart, registered dietitian and nutrition consultant in Santa Monica, California, says that she encourages parents to take children to the grocery store and teach them to read labels. "Kids are more savvy than most people think," Dopart says. "They're curious and interested. They'll say things like, ‘Mom, do you know how many carbohydrates are in this?'"
When teaching label reading, tell kids to look at ingredient lists. Foods with six or fewer ingredients and the word "whole" in the first listing are ideal, Dopart says. Have them look for names of sugar - glucose, sucrose, and maltose, for instance. Foods that contain a lot of them probably have a high sugar content. Then evaluate the nutrition label for the amount of carbohydrates, protein, trans fats, and sodium, paying attention to the serving size and the percent daily values.
"Tell kids what to look for, then send them off on an expedition," says Nancy Heinrich, an epidemiologist specializing in diabetes and the founder of the Vero Beach, Florida-based Growing Healthy Kids. Evaluate the foods you normally buy, she says, then mount a rescue mission based on healthier criteria. For instance, when she was teaching her son about trans fats, she asked him to find a chip that didn't have the term "partially hydrogenated" in its ingredients.
"Make a game out of it," Heinrich advises. "You have to make it fun to learn."
You also can find nutrition-related games and activities for kids ages six to 11 at http://www.mypyramid.gov/kids.
Grandparents as health educators
Having a grandparent with type 2 diabetes also increases a child's risk of becoming insulin resistant. As a grandparent with the disease, you can utilize the special bond you have with your grandchildren to perform a new role within your family - that of health educator or champion - says Nancy Heinrich, an epidemiologist specializing in diabetes and the founder of Growing Healthy Kids.
Grandparents are influential figures in kids' lives, and many would rather spend time with their grandchildren than their children, says Heinrich, who travels the country presenting seminars to parents and grandparents with type 2 diabetes. "I tell them, ‘It is incumbent upon you to know as much as you can about controlling your diabetes so that you can become the teacher your family needs,'" she says. "That's going to be the key to breaking the cycle of diabetes."
She advises using some of the time you spend with your grandchildren to educate them about healthy eating and exercise. One way to do that is through scheduling regular family dinners and having children help shop for and prepare food.
"Kids aren't going to get a diabetes-prevention lesson at school or from their pediatrician," Heinrich says. "Grandparents' lives can become that lesson."
Feb 4, 2010
Feb 13, 2010
Categories: Adolescent Boys, Adolescent Girls, Blood Sugar, Community, Diabetes, Diabetes, Exercise, Fitness, Food, Insulin, Kids & Teens, Losing weight, Nutrition Advice, Pre-Diabetes, Teenagers, Type 1 Issues, Type 2 Issues
Diabetes Health is the essential resource for people living with diabetes- both newly diagnosed and experienced as well as the professionals who care for them. We provide balanced expert news and information on living healthfully with diabetes. Each issue includes cutting-edge editorial coverage of new products, research, treatment options, and meaningful lifestyle issues.