A few years ago I went through a very stressful time with my then teenager concerning his health. I was told by his pediatrician that he was pre-diabetic. He gained more than twenty pounds in one summer. His blood test results came with higher than normal triglycerides, LDL levels, as well as blood sugar levels.
Up until that time I never thought my preteen would be at any risk of this dreadful disease. Maybe, I thought, when he is adult, but not as a child. That made me realize just how important it was to educate my child about the complications of becoming a diabetic and the importance of diet and exercise. I couldn't bear the thought of my child becoming a diabetic.
I joined him in martial arts classes, which he enjoyed. I started reading the labels on cereal boxes, breads, milk, hotdogs, frozen pizzas, waffles whenever I took him grocery shopping. We looked for foods with low saturated fats and no trans fats. We chose foods low in sugars and carbohydrates. All the while, I felt guilty I was depriving him of his normal way of living as a child; eating whatever he wanted with no restrictions. But he learned quick.
At times he was frustrated that he couldn't have what other children had, but I made sure he understand that eating right doesn't have to mean not eating what he wanted. "Just choose wisely," I said. That was a very hard period his young life, and mine too, but it was worth it.
Regular lab works have became a part of my son's life. There were times, again, when he went to college where he got used to fast food, especially pizzas, because he couldn't take time off between classes to eat right or exercise.
Luckily he wasn't diagnosed as a diabetic, but whenever he had bouts of eating discrepancies it showed as elevated cholesterol and triglycerides in his blood work. But because of the awareness instilled in him at a young age he knew what he needed to do to solve those issues.
He got right back into an exercise routine and started buying his own groceries to make his meals. It is not always possible to eat in the dorm rooms, but he maintains outside meals by choosing health food places on campus.
He carries small health food snacks to last through out the day. He checks his BMI regularly to maintain his body fat content. Even though I felt bad when I first started educating him as a young boy, I now feel happy that I did. Now I know he will take care of himself for life. That gives me immense satisfaction that I did my job right as a parent.
Diabetes is a pandemic that is spreading like a wild fire amongst young people worldwide. With the increasing availability of fast foods on every street corner, and more time spent in front of the televisions and video games, awareness about health issues is not as much as it should be.
A couple of years ago, diabetes was diagnosed, in people over forty, as 'Adult Onset Diabetes'. But, hospitals and doctors' clinics are seeing more and more young patients with complications of undiagnosed diabetes. Young females often fall prey for this disease with their sedentary lifestyles, obesity rates, and pregnancy rates.
For most people who have diabetes, it goes undetected until it's too late. For young people, health is something that sits on the back burner. Most young people do not think about health issues until something happens. Simple lifestyle changes like regular exercise, choices in foods on campuses and in school, and basic awareness about diabetes could save millions of young people from falling prey for this deadly disease.
Treatment plans are but one part of the whole prevention process when a young person is diagnosed with diabetes. Most young people diagnosed with this conditions live in denial for years. Now, diabetic awareness programs are conducted in most universities, high schools and junior highs, and there are scholarship programs given by different organizations to encourage young people to participate in diabetic education.
Maybe it is about time to include diabetes education as a mandatory course in schools and colleges like the way they used to have sex education. Nutrition is another important subject that could be beneficial to most young people, along with mandatory physical education courses all through school. If a children cannot learn the importance of these health issues as a young one, it will not only cost them their health, but the quality of their lives. To me, prevention is better than treatment any time because, OUR LIFE MATTERS.
Edited by Shannon Koehle
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