About the Author:
Guest blogger Timika Chambers is a Holistic Health Coach, Certified Diabetes Educator, and has over 18 years of experience in the nursing profession. She has served in community and hospital settings, as well as academia. Timika helps her clients design a lifestyle that is full of energy and focus, by helping them to achieve balance in critical areas of their lives. She offers one-on-one counseling, group coaching, and presentations and training on diabetes management to lay persons and healthcare professionals. She is currently completing online healthy living programs to help others around the globe to focus on health management instead of disease management. Visit her website, Facebook, Twitter, or Podcast to learn more.
Obesity and obesity-related conditions continue to threaten the health of families. It is one of the risk factors for pre/diabetes and is a growing issue among adults — and children. No surprise as children often mimic the behaviors of those they admire. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 5 children and adolescents are obese. Childhood and adolescent obesity tripled from 1971-2011 and is projected to affect millions of children by 2050.1 Alongside obesity, by 2050, the number of people with diabetes is projected to triple.2
Many of our clients have children and grandchildren or play a significant role in a child’s life. But they often shelter them from their diagnosis and do not want to “bother” them with it. This may leave the person with diabetes feeling alone in dealing with their health, or more negative feelings over lack of control that can lead to a fatalistic view of their health. Sheltering family members and loved ones can only continue the cycle of blame, guilt, and unhealthy lifestyle behaviors. However, proper education, resources and support can break the cycle of unhealthy behaviors.
As educators, we can help our clients look at the brighter side of their diagnosis and empower them to change the trajectory of their lives and generations to come through their influence. What they teach and model for children can be one of the best ways to learn the information themselves. Here are six ways people with diabetes can engage the children in their lives with health:
- Bring them to appointments
The exposure will increase their understanding of diabetes and how positive health behaviors are essential to controlling diabetes.
- Speak to them about their health
We can give our clients appropriate resources and tools to the increase their own knowledge.
- Plan and prepare meals with them
Home cooking allows the adult to transfer knowledge in a creative and fun way. Suggest they pick one day a week to prepare a meal together.
- Discuss why positive lifestyle changes are important to the family
The more a client understands the why behind a behavior, the more likely they will see the benefit. Our clients can set a particular day and time to discuss the “health of the family.”
- Discuss the consequences of not adopting positive health behaviors
Sometimes clients need to hear themselves speak about the consequences.
- Plan consistent exercise dates with family members
Our clients can start with one day a week of simple exercise routines. For those with young children, schedule a playtime activity that involves lots of movement.
Encourage your clients to break the cycle of childhood obesity by starting early. AADE has published a new resources page to help diabetes educators assist people who have diabetes and are overweight or obese. Check them out at diabeteseducator.org/obesity.
Let me know how your clients respond to the tips in the comments below!
- Centers for Disease Control (2018). Childhood Obesity Facts. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/healthyschools/obesity/facts.htm
- Centers for Disease Control (2010). Number of Americans with Diabetes Projected to Double or Triple by 2050. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/media/pressrel/2010/r101022.html