For children, vacation is synonymous with freedom, fun and food. They don’t want any interference from anyone during this time and parents indulge them too. But, as a parent, you know your child best and the care he/she needs even during holiday breaks.
A sad reality in India today is that more and more children are prone to diabetes due to various reasons. If your child is one among them, you need to be cautious of his/her day-to-day activities even during vacations.
In the absence of a daily school routine, there is a possibility that kids may fall into unhealthy habits such as watching TV too much, playing video games for long hours, spending too much time on the computer or getting addicted to other devices. All these sedentary activities can lead to unhealthy weight gain, which is a high-risk trigger for developing diabetes. Similarly, unhealthy eating habits, such as consumption of junk food and fast food, extra fat intake and not drinking enough water can increase the risk of diabetes.
Identifying children prone to Diabetes
Diabetes affects the way our body processes glucose to gain energy. It results in accumulation of sugar in the bloodstream which leads to serious health complications. Overweight children are at a higher risk of developing diabetes as their body’s cells become resistant to insulin — a hormone that regulates blood sugar levels. Lower levels of physical activity and poor dietary habits can only compound the risk factor. Family or genetic history is another trigger. If a close family member, such as a parent or sibling has diabetes, the child is more likely to have pre-diabetes or develop the condition later. A child born to a mother with gestational diabetes, a condition in which blood sugar levels spiral during pregnancy, may develop diabetes. Also, babies born prematurely are considered at high risk of diabetes.
However, there are several ways to prevent the onset of the condition in your children. Encourage your child to take part in physical activities, adopt healthy eating habits and watch his weight. I suggest an easy vacation regime that can be followed.
Set an outdoor routine
Create a varied activity routine for each day of the week so that your child doesn’t feel bored. A defined outdoor activity each day is something that children can look forward to. This will be an incentive and help them keep to the disciplined behaviour of waking up at a fixed time, having meals on time and following playtime schedules. To improve your child’s physical performance, you can sign him/her up for day camp, swimming sessions, dance classes, creative workshops, adventure activities, nature walks and so on. Fill up the day with enough physical diversions so that you can limit the child’s screen time, which is extremely important for overall fitness. Acknowledge and encourage his/her real-time creative pursuits so that he/she can stay motivated. Ask him/her to document his/her experiences in a scrap book. In fact, a vacation is a good time to break any unhealthy habits that your child may have acquired.
Develop healthy snacking habits
Scheduled meal times during school days help balance a child’s weight. But during vacations, children don’t follow any meal schedule and their intermittent snacking results in extra calorie intake. Extra outdoor activity means kids will feel hungry. You need to prevent that by including nutritious food items in the meal schedule. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains and other nutrient-rich food items should be on your list. Keep these items handy and there are enough recipes to give them a tangy twist the way they like it. You should also teach your child about healthy eating habits and the necessity of taking a balanced diet by encouraging them to assist you while you prepare them.
Monitor water intake
To keep your child hydrated and active throughout the day, you need to ensure that he/she is drinking plenty of water. It helps in regulating body temperature and normalising blood pressure levels. Also, water boosts the digestive power of the body and prevents constipation. Proper intake of water will improve your child’s health and physical performance.
Make fitness a family affair
There is no better time than a vacation to show your child that you care. Each child looks up to his/her parent as a role model. So participate in their lives by doing something new. If your family members attend yoga classes or engage in some other activities with friends, you can easily send your child there if you are not free. Aerobics classes, swimming lessons and playing football or baseball are some activities that will enhance your child’s physical fitness. And most parents engage in one or the other of these hobby pursuits anyway.
Be serious about bedtime
Children who sleep less feel less energetic. Proper sleep is also important for a healthy mind. You should prepare a routine with designated sleeping hours. Whatever the enthusiasm through the day, keep to a fixed dinner time and turn off screens at least an hour before bedtime. A sleep routine is extremely important to keep your child involved in physical activities which are vital to preventing diabetes.