By Stephanie Simons,
Lindo’s Pharmacy in Devonshire
As we head into November, with Halloween candy still littering our homes, our thoughts begin to drift towards the holiday season. However, November is also Diabetes Awareness Month and includes Universal Children’s Day, on November 20. As such, I thought this would be a good time for us to discuss diabetes in children.
Diabetes is a very serious problem in Bermuda, particularly among young people. The island has a diabetes rate of 14 per cent – nearly double global average – and spends more on healthcare per person than any other country in the region, with much of this going towards treating complications of diabetes. Type 2 Diabetes is particularly prevalent, and this form of diabetes is largely avoidable, with proper lifestyle and nutrition.
Taking control of your diet is a fundamental part of managing your health. Children who have diabetes do not need to be on strict diets but do need to pay close attention to what they eat and when. This will enable them – and you – to monitor their sugar levels and it is best to start this self-awareness early on.
Children have different diet requirements to adults, regardless of whether or not they have diabetes, and require plenty of fuel to keep them going throughout the day. While snacks for adults are often discouraged, they can allow children to restore their energy, self-manage their blood glucose levels and keep them going until their next meal. When providing snacks, it is best to include a variety of food groups, such as bread, dairy, fruit and vegetables.
When packing school lunches, it is important to ensure that your children are getting enough fresh fruit and vegetables, protein and wholegrain fibres. These will help your child sustain themselves while making sure they are getting the vital nutrients to keep them healthy. The Bermuda Diabetes Association has a helpful guide to packing lunchboxes for diabetic children here.
As mentioned earlier, many of us still have Halloween candy in our homes. For children, or even the young-at-heart, this can be a trying time, but there are ways in which we can reduce temptation. The easiest way to do this is to ensure that an abundance of candy isn’t kept in the home. It is much easier to avoid reaching for unhealthy snacks if they’re not within reach at all. Excess candy could be donated to a local care home or taken to church for refreshments. Children can even be incentivised in this by being offered an alternate gift in exchange for the sweets. This is not to say that you cannot have any treats at all: in fact, small candies can be used as a source of sugar for diabetics in case of lows.
The diabetes epidemic in Bermuda is an issue of great importance to Lindo’s and we are proud that our annual Lindo’s to Lindo’s event this year raised $25,860 for the Bermuda Diabetes Association. Lindo’s stores stock a number of healthy and sugar-free foods which are diabetes friendly and delicious. Our pharmacies supply blood glucose metres, testing strips and other testing supplies as well as glucose tablets – which can be used when blood sugars drop too low. If you have any questions about diabetes, please ask a pharmacist.
To find out more useful information about diabetes, the treatment and the prevention of it, please visit the Bermuda Diabetes Association website: http://www.diabetes.bm.
Stephanie Simons is the head pharmacist at Lindo’s Pharmacy in Devonshire. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy at Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and has been practicing for over 20 years. She is a registered pharmacist with the Bermuda Pharmacy Council and is a member of the Bermuda Pharmaceutical Association.