diabetes pediatric diet exercise

Type 1 diabetes is a chronic condition characterized by a deficiency of insulin. Insulin is a hormone we need to bring glucose from the bloodstream into the cells.

As we eat, our bodies break down glucose. However, those with type 1 diabetes (T1D) don’t have enough insulin to keep their blood sugar at a normal level.

Children with T1D need insulin to control this. A healthy meal plan and exercise are key components of this. Meal planning when you have diabetes doesn’t have to become a chore.

You just need to make smart choices. These can include eating balanced meals and healthy snacks. The more you know about the food you eat, the easier these choices are to make.

The American Diabetes Association (ADA) developed the Diabetes Plate Method. This method outlines diabetes-friendly meals.

Many people follow a more advanced form of meal planning called carbohydrate counting. This means you count the carbohydrate grams in a meal to figure out your correct dose of insulin.

Exercise is also an essential part of well-balanced diabetes control. Get moving!

Exercise helps your body use insulin better. It also strengthens your heart and bones, improves blood circulation, and lowers blood glucose and blood pressure. Improved cholesterol levels and stress relief are further benefits of this.

The ADA recommends 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity at least five days per week for a total of 150 minutes of exercise. Remember to avoid a sedentary lifestyle.

Make sure to get up and move after every 30 minutes of sitting. Strength training at least twice per week can also help.

Examples of both types of exercise include: walking, running, swimming, and dancing. They also include weight machines, resistance bands, and calisthenics (meaning you use your own body weight).

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Daily Tips for Managing Type 1 Diabetes

  • Avoid sugary beverages; stick to water. Only drink juice to treat hypoglycemia.
  • Eat a well-balanced meal with fruits and vegetables as well as plenty of protein.
  • Exercise builds stronger bones and muscles. It also helps you sleep well at night, decreases depression and anxiety, and improves blood sugar control.
  • Exercise can lower your blood glucose levels up to many hours after you exercise by making your body more sensitive to insulin. But certain anaerobic exercises like weightlifting may increase your blood sugar. Talk to your diabetes care team to learn more about the effects of exercise on your sugar readings.
  • Insulin doses may need adjusting with increased activity. Talk to your diabetes care team about this.
  • Type 1 diabetes should check their blood sugar before, during, and after any physical activity. Having a small snack available is also important.

Editor's Note: This article was originally published on , and was last reviewed on .

About Pediatrics

From nutrition to illnesses, from athletics to school, children will face many challenges growing up. Parents often will make important health care decisions for them. We hope to help guide both of you in that journey. UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh is a national leader in pediatric care, ranking consistently on U.S. News & World Report’s Best Children’s Hospitals Honor Roll. We provide expert treatment for pediatric diseases, along well-child visits, urgent care, and more. With locations across Pennsylvania, Maryland, and West Virginia, you can find world-class care close to home. We also work closely with UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital, a national leader in care for newborns and their mothers. Our goal is to provide the best care for your children, from birth to adulthood and beyond. Visit our website to find a doctor near you.