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Teens and Diabetes

Living with a health problem makes life a little different for teens, particularly teens who have diabetes. It is important for teens to understand the importance of managing this disease, as uncontrolled diabetes increases the risk for several serious medical conditions, such as:

  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Kidney disease
  • Stroke

One of the most important ways to manage diabetes is to follow a special diet. This article contains tips for following a diabetes diet and getting support from family members and friends.

Diabetes Management

Insulin is a hormone that helps the body use glucose as a source of energy. People who do not make any insulin have type 1 diabetes, which is known as juvenile diabetes. People who do not make enough insulin have type 2 diabetes. The American Diabetes Association says 215,000 people under the age of 20 have diabetes. Following a healthy diet is an important part of managing both types of diabetes.

Controlling carbohydrate intake is one of the most important aspects of following a diabetes diet. Some carbohydrates cause the amount of glucose in the blood to increase rapidly. Rapid spikes in blood sugar increase the risk for complications, making it very important to be careful of the foods you eat.

Foods to Limit

Having diabetes makes it necessary to avoid foods and beverages that contain a lot of sugar. Soda and juices with added sugar are just two of the beverages diabetics should avoid. Water, diet soda, and unsweetened ice tea are good alternatives to these drinks. This strict diet also makes it necessary to limit the consumption of cholesterol, saturated fats and sodium. You may have to limit the amount of meat, baked goods, eggs and snack foods you eat each day.

Healthful Foods

It is important to ask a doctor or dietitian for advice about creating a diabetes diet. Everyone is a little different, so there is no specific diet that will work for everyone. Your doctor may recommend eating foods that contain complex carbohydrates and starches. Fruits, whole grains, vegetables and legumes are good choices. Foods that contain fiber are also an important part of a diabetic diet. An article in Diabetes Care supports the importance of consuming fiber when you have diabetes. The article outlined the results of a study led by researchers from the Institute of Food Sciences and Technology of Consiglio Nationale delle Ricerche. One group followed a low-fiber diet and the other group followed a high-fiber diet. After 24 weeks, the study showed that people on the high-fiber diet had lower daily blood glucose levels and fewer episodes of low blood sugar.

Maintaining Good Health

Maintaining good health is important for diabetics. Staying healthy will help your body fight off infections. Having a strong body can also help you if you develop high blood pressure or other diabetes complications.

Building a Support Network

Even if you follow a diet and take your medication as directed, it is still important to build a support network. Having supportive friends or family members can help you manage your diabetes properly. It is especially helpful to have the support of your family members when it comes to managing this condition. Your family members can help you by buying foods that are low in sugar, reducing the temptation to eat snacks that can make your blood sugar levels worse.

Telling your friends about diabetes is also important. Many teens do not understand the risks involved with this disease (http://www.teenzeen.org/teen-diseases-and-conditions.html), so you should explain the importance of following a special diet. Once your friends understand why you have to follow a diabetes diet, it is possible that they will help you by avoiding soda and unhealthy snacks while you are spending time together.

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