Helping teens manage Type 2 diabetes

November 25, 2015 Providence Health Team

The teenage years can be a hectic, difficult time, so imagine adding Type 2 diabetes to the mix. This is happening more and more, as the number of young people with Type 2 diabetes rises.

Type 2 diabetes occurs when the pancreas doesn’t make enough of the hormone insulin, or the insulin that it does produce can’t effectively move sugar into the body’s cells to produce energy.

Why diabetes management is important

If your body can’t use sugar, also called glucose, it builds up in the blood. This can make you feel sick, tired and sleepy.

Over time, high blood glucose levels also can damage your eyes, kidneys and heart. Helping teenagers learn to keep their blood glucose at a healthy level could mean fewer health problems as an adult.

To help the body use glucose better, teens with diabetes will need to exercise regularly, eat healthy foods and maintain a healthy weight.

The American Diabetes Association says STAR can help. Before a teen makes a decision that could affect blood glucose levels, encourage him or her to take these steps:

  • Stop. Consider these questions: If you are hungry, what’s the best snack – cookies or fruit? Should you watch TV or get out and talk a walk?
  • Think. Will your choice help you maintain healthy blood glucose levels?
  • Act. Choose the best option for your health. You might not make the right choice every time – no one is perfect. But keep at it and change will come over time.
  • Reflect. Give yourself credit when you do make the healthy choice. And if you ate the cookies, think about what would help you make a different choice next time.

Plan with STAR

As you can see, managing Type 2 diabetes is all about choices. This is difficult for all of us, but it can be even harder for teens grappling with new responsibilities, fluctuating hormones and mood swings.

Slow things down with STAR. Encourage teens to think about their choices if faced with these situations:

  • How do I choose sugar-free drinks when everyone else is drinking soda?
  • How do I say no to extra snacks or unhealthy food when my friends are eating chips and candy?
  • How do I get my friends to walk places instead of catching a ride or taking the bus?

Good habits pay off

Being a teen with diabetes isn’t easy, but the right choices now will help teens develop good habits and enter adulthood healthy. If your teen needs help with diet, exercise or weight loss, your Providence provider can help

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