What can I do when my child has diabetes?

When your child has diabetes, it means that the glucose (sugar) levels in their blood are too high. They might not produce enough insulin or their bodies might not use the insulin appropriately. They can feel tired and struggle to concentrate in class. If left uncontrolled, they will also get damage to their organs such as the kidneys, eyes, heart, nerves and major arteries. 

Ideal blood glucose levels range from 4-6 mmol/L. Diabetes is diagnosed when a person's glucose level is above 7 mmol/L. Diabetes is caused by a combination of factors including poor diet, certain medications or post trauma, being overweight (especially in the abdominal area), inactivity and/or a genetic component.

What is most worrisome is the amount of people who, without them knowing it, suffer from a condition called syndrome X or pre-diabetes. That is why it’s advisable to take your child for a glucose tolerance test if you suspect any abnormality.

What can I do when my child is diagnosed with type 1 or type 2 diabetes? 

  1. Find a doctor that understands nutritional therapy and specialises in children. This should be done in collaboration with an endocrinologist. 
  2. Join the Diabetes Association in South Africa to get the information you need and to get support from other parents going through the same thing with their kids.  
  3. See a dietician that will help you with a low GI/low GL appropriate diet for your child. Read more about nutrition and diabetes here.
  4. Read about healthy sandwiches here.

Tip: It might help your child a lot if you make it a lifestyle change so that the entire family followed the same diet.

Did you know?
Lifestyle interventions focusing on diet and exercise are often more effective than drugs in preventing and managing diabetes and are also much more cost effective. In fact, having someone with diabetes in the family can often lead to a healthy way of eating for the whole family and people with syndrome X can reverse the disease process completely!

Disclaimer: The information contained in this document is not intended to replace the attention or advice of a physician or other health care professional. Anyone who wishes to embark on any dietary, drug, exercise, or other lifestyle change that is intended to prevent or treat a specific disease should first consult a qualified health care professional.