Toddler Dinners: Diabetes 101 for Healthy Kids

Welcome back to Toddler Dinners! This week is brought to you by a reader who asked if she could guest post about a big issue: Type 2 diabetes. Something we used to not worry about at this age but sadly it is now. Americans feed their kids so.much.junk. I know we are all in a rush but it isn’t that hard to teach healthy eating and exercise young. A little effort now can help set them up for a better future. So welcome, Carolyn to the Toddler Dinners stage!

Diabetes prevention is a major issue in America. Last month, American Diabetes Month really activated a lot of people’s minds towards this cause. I personally had never paid much attention to diabetes until one of my little cousins was diagnosed with it not too long ago – what a wake up call that was! According to studies from St. Joseph’s Hospital Cardiac Center, one in three kids are now overweight or obese, and since obesity and lack of physical activity are the two leading factors in Type II Diabetes, I started to pay a lot more attention to the lifestyle of myself and all of my other young cousins. When I began looking for advice on how to change her habits, some of the information really helped me figure out what I myself was doing wrong and allowed me to form better habits for all of us.

Eating Better
For one, my cousin wasn’t eating a lot of nutritional food. She loves macaroni and cheese, and who can blame her? However, it was because of Mac-n-cheese, and lots of other unhealthy foods, that were part of the reason that she recently was diagnosed with Type II Diabetes. One thing that we had to stop doing right away was allowing trips to fast food places. These places sell food high in sugar and fat. We also had to start reading labels on everything, including things that contained starch vegetables and lots of salt. Mostly, we looked for items that contained a lot of carbohydrates, sugar and glucose. These were all bad things for maintaining blood sugar levels. In addition, meals were spread into smaller proportions throughout the day.

Some of the right changes that we’ve made include:

  • Non-starchy vegetables like broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, green beans and mushrooms
  • Complex carbohydrates like healthy fruits and starch vegetables (in moderation)
  • Fiber, like beans, legumes, peas, lentils whole wheat bread and wheat bran
  • Lean meat like baked chicken, fish, turkey and sirloin
  • Some good fats like almonds, pecans, walnuts and peanuts

Some of the bad things we have moved away from:

  • Saturated fats like beef, sausage and bacon
  • Trans fats like sugary snacks, baked pastries, stuff with shortening and lots of butter
  • Sodium rich foods (less than 2,000 mg of sodium per day)
  • Fast food of all kinds

Some of the these things were easy to cut out while other stuff was more of a challenge. For instance, mashed potatoes are now cauliflower faux mashed potatoes, but sometimes, a small portion of homemade macaroni and cheese made with healthier ingredients is okay.

Time to Get Outside
Kids need to play. For those who are inside all day, it can become a sedimentary lifestyle. Going for walks, playing kick ball, swinging and catching Frisbees with the family dog may work for some, but for others, it’s time to get more creative. These are some ideas for exercise that can be either indoor or outdoor.

Yoga
This is a great way for kids to learn about their bodies and build muscle, while also being a low impact exercise. It’s even funnier to make it about animal poses. For instance, Warrior 3 pose kind of looks like a flamingo and the tree pose is well–a tree pose. Challenge kids to do some yoga poses with you and also to make up some of your own animals.

Dance, Dance, Dance!

Dance fitness has become a legend in the gym world, so why not do it at home? Zumba is one of the ultimate ways to get kids into music and being silly with a high energy dance routine that will let them shake, rattle and roll. Set to hip hop, pop and Latin music, Zumba routines are fun for adults and for kids! My cousins love when we do dance-offs together in the living room!

Competitive Fun

Kids like to be competitive. So engage kids in soccer or kick ball, challenge them to Wii fitness games or look for dance party games. While kids don’t have to go outside for some of these activities, make it a point to get them active each and every day.


Carolyn is a 20-something year old with a passion for life, fitness and overall well-being. She is an avid cycler, golfer and has known to bust some serious moves on the dance floor. Check out Carolyn’s blog
at http://fullonfit.blogspot.com/

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