TOOLS for Parents


With our busy lifestyles it can be difficult to make changes. How do we pull our children away from the TV without starting a riot? How can we make more time to cook at home? How do we turn what we should do into what we can do?

The Tools

Use DIABETES FAMILIES TOOLS to customize your own plan so you can make a lifestyle change that becomes a “like-style”change, one that really fits your family’s needs.

 Use these TOOLS to build your family's road-map to health 



  • Understand Your Family’s Needs
  • Know the Early Warning Signs
  • No More Diets! 
  • The Role of Weight - What's Your BMI?
  • Portion Control


Early Warning Signs

Additional Information

Make sure you know these early warning signs and risk factors. Even your doctor or pediatrician can mistake some of the signs for the flu and send you home. That could land you in the emergency room! If you have a hunch it might be diabetes, please ask your doctor to check. A simple test will let you know right away if your blood sugar is high.

Early Warning Signs


•  Obese or overweight (present in 85% of new cases)

•  Dark velvety skin around neck or other body folds

•  Increased thirst, urination or hunger

•  Fatigue

•  Blurred vision

•  Sores that heal too slowly

•  High blood pressure due to obesity or family history

•  High cholesterol level

•  Irregular menstruation or polycystic ovaries in girls

Risk Factors

•  Elevated blood glucose level

•  Not very active physically

•  Close relative has Type 2 Diabetes

•  Mother had gestational diabetes when pregnant

•  Ethnic heritage is Hispanic, African American, or Native American

•  High blood pressure or high cholesterol levels  

Ask Your Doctor... test your child's blood sugar level if you notice any early warning signs or risk factors

 ...what lifestyle changes will make a difference?

 ...what resources and support are available to help you make needed changes?

 ...what medications, if any, are needed and how to administer them?

 ...what pre-appointment restrictions, such as fasting, are required before laboratory testing of blood sugars?

What is T2?

What is T2?

This new and needless epidemic of Type 2 Diabetes did not exist in children 20 years ago. More junk foods, computer & TV time, cuts in school gym programs all add up to an environment that brings on obesity.


Obesity is the main trigger for diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and even cancer. Once called Adult Onset Diabetes, they had to change the name to Type 2 when younger people and finally children started to get it.

Type 2 Diabetes is the most common form of diabetes. It is preventable in children. Type 2 Diabetes is a genetic condition and runs in families. About 80% of people with type 2 diabetes are overweight.

We all need insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas, to digest the carbohydrates in the food we eat. Type 2 diabetes occurs when the pancreas is overstressed by obesity or it has slowed down due to old age or disease. Then, the normal function changes. The pancreas does not produce enough insulin or the body does not absorb the insulin efficiently, which is called insulin resistance.

There are a growing number of children and adolescents, especially among African American, Mexican American, and Native America youth who are getting Type 2 diabetes because they are overweight or do not get enough physical activity.


  • Gestational Diabetes happens to some women during pregnancy. It is important for you to know about because women with gestational diabetes have a higher risk of passing type 2 diabetes on to their children. Although this form of diabetes usually disappears after the birth of the baby, women who have had gestational diabetes have a 40 to 60 percent chance of developing type 2 diabetes themselves within 5 to 10 years. Maintaining a reasonable body weight and being physically active may help prevent development of type 2 diabetes.
  • Type 1 Diabetes, formerly known as Juvenile Diabetes, and often confused with type 2 diabetes in children, accounts for 5% of all diabetes. Type 1 occurs when the pancreas stops producing insulin. It usually occurs before the age of 21 and people with type 1 must rely on insulin injections for the rest of their lives. Scientists do not fully understand what causes type 1 and we do not know how to prevent it at this time.
  • Other rare forms of diabetes can be caused by genetic disorders or disease.


Your Family's Needs

Your Family's Needs

How do we get started on improving our children's health? Understanding what your family needs   starts  by taking a look at what your family is doing right now. We don't always stop to think about our behavior and attitudes, but knowing what they are will let you know what you want to change.

Answer these important questions and you will start to see what your family's needs now.  

What is My Child Doing Now?


 1. My family eats __# of meals together, at home, each week (Include breakfast lunch and dinner)

 2. My child eats __# cafeteria lunches at school or at a restaurant each week

 3. My child eats __# vegetables every day

 4. My child eats __# pieces of fruit every day

 5. My child gets __minutes of exercise every day

 6. My child’s favorite activity or hobby is __________and they spend __ # hours a week doing it

 7. My child spends __hours a day watching TV, playing video games or on the computer

 8. Right now I believe Type 2 Diabetes is; 

                 __No big Deal


                 __Scary and depressing

                 __Unavoidable since it runs in my family

                 __Controllable with good health habits

 9. Right now this is how my child feels;

                __They don’t believe they have or are at risk for Type 2 Diabetes

                __They are wondering what they can do to take control of their diabetes

                __They have already started to make some changes like 

 this: ____________________________________________________ 

                __They believe they have the power to take control of diabetes

 10. This is what bothers my child about being diagnosed with diabetes, or at risk for
                Type 2 Diabetes:______________________________________________

 11. This is the change I would like to see in my child’s attitude about their health: __

 12. If my child three wishes, this is what we would wish for:

1. _____________________________________________

2. _____________________________________________

 3. _____________________________________________

 13. If I had three wishes, this is what I would wish for:
                 1. _____________________________________________

                 2. _____________________________________________

                 3. _____________________________________________

Look over your answers and see what you would like to change. Could you eat more dinners together? Can you become more active instead of just watching TV? Think about one small thing you want to do differently and can do in a better way.

No More Diets!


Decide. Which food or exercise change is right for your child and family? Choose something easy! Your most important goal right 

now is to succeed. See our Suggested List of Habits for some ideas to get you started.

2.    Plan. In order to turn any new change into a new habit, think it through carefully and develop a detailed plan. The more details the better! Fill in the Healthy Habit Plan form to make sure you haven’t forgotten anything. 

3.    Review weekly. How things are going over time? Usually, something unexpected will happen or an obstacle will appear. At that point that too many people just give up. But don’t forget, you can usually find a solution when you try.

4.    Adjust. Do some problem solving to find solutions to obstacles. This will keep you on track!  

5.    The 6 week rule. It takes about 6 weeks to establish a new habit. Here's where you can use willpower to stick with it!

6.    Repeat. Once you’ve succeeded, pick your next new habit. Just repeat all these steps down the road to good health.


 Diets doesn't work because they rely on your willpower, which can never last for long. Parents know that HABITS are more reliable for the long run.  When it comes to teaching kids important behavior, like looking both ways before they cross the street, or brushing their teeth, we make sure it becomes a habit.
Habits are things we do almost without thinking and they can last a lifetime.

Develop three new health habits and you are on your way to much better health!

The Diabetes Families program, diaBeaters, will guide you start better health habits for your whole family. 

Habits I have


One good health habit most of us have is brushing our teeth. See which habits you already have and which ones you need to add. Fill in this list and then be sure to add some of your own.


Habit                                                       Have It                Want it                      Need to get rid of it!

Brushing my teeth

Flossing my teeth

Going to bed on time

Drinking 8 glasses of water

Finishing my homework

Making time for hobbies

Taking my medications

Eating to stay healthy


Making my bed

Doing my chores

Biting my nails

Other habits I have:

Know Your BMI

Know Your BMI

 Doctors have a special way of figuring out your best weight for staying healthy. It's called BMI, Body Mass Index. This is a comparison of your height and your weight.
Parents are familiar with this from the pediatrician's office, where they see their child's growth chart. We know our children are growing well, at an average and healthy rate, when they are in the green zone of the chart. It's fine if they are taller or shorter than other kids their age, but it is not healthy if they are heavier than average.

You can check if your child is at a healthy weight by calculating their BMI yourself. Just click here. 

Portion Control

Portion Control

One way to eat healthier is to control your portions. Your body gets something it needs from every food group. Observe how much you are eating now, and then slowly try to whittle down to the recommended portions. This way your body will get all the nutrition it needs as it gets used to reasonable portions.

Use Your Hand to Measure

It’s easy to estimate how much you are eating simply by using your hands.

Your palm = 3 oz = one portion of meat, chicken or fish

Your fist = 1 cup = one portion of rice, pasta, or cereal

Your thumb = 1 tablespoon = one portion of salad dressing

The tip of you thumb = 1 teaspoon = one portion of butter, margarine or mayonnaise

Use Your Plate

Over the years, restaurant portions have grown larger, “super sizing” is in, and we got used to eating more. Here’s how you can use your plate to measure your food. Be sure to use a standard 9 inch plate, so your eye isn’t tricked into taking a portion that is too large.