As a parent of a child with type 1 diabetes, you place so much focus on your child's health that it's all too easy to overlook your own. It can feel like there just aren't enough hours in the day! Before you know it, your weight can begin to creep up, as can your stress level -- which ultimately spells bad news. Luckily, there are small changes you can make in your daily routine that will make a big difference in your overall well-being. Here, four easy tweaks you can make for a healthier you:
Avert Your Eyes
Studies show that the more TV you watch, the more likely you are to be overweight. "Anything that distracts us from monitoring how much we're eating is bad," says Brian Wansink, Ph.D., of Cornell University. "We mindlessly eat while we mindlessly watch TV." In his research, he's discovered that people typically don't stop eating when they're full -- instead they'll eat until the show they're watching ends. "We found that people who watched TV for an hour ate 28 percent more than if they watched for a half hour," he says. So what can you do, short of throwing your flat-screen out the window (which would seriously infringe on your Modern Family addiction)? Arrange furniture so that it's not centered around the television, for starters. Or put a basket of workout gear (like weights and jump ropes) in the family room so you can exercise while watching your favorite shows or bust a move during commercials.
Life can get stressful -- especially when you have a child with a chronic illness. The American Diabetes Association recommends the following breathing exercise that you can do anywhere, anytime, to tame tension: Take in a deep breath. Then push out as much air as you can. Breathe in and out again, this time relaxing your muscles on purpose while breathing out. Keep breathing and relaxing for 5 to 20 minutes at a time. Do the breathing exercises at least once a day.
Simply Avoid Sitting
Mayo Clinic researchers found that obese people sit for about 2.5 hours longer per day than lean people and hold on to 350 extra calories for the same daily food intake. How to combat this? Be active for at least thirty minutes a day. But this doesn't mean you have to join a pricey gym. Just try to fit in movement wherever you can. Pace while you talk on the phone. Give the playroom an extra cleaning. Put your laptop on a shelf and stand while you do your social networking. Or get the kids involved: Play with them on the playground or initiate a family hike or bike ride.
Swap Your Flower Centerpiece for Fruit
People eat about twice as much chocolate if it's in a candy dish on their desk than if the dish was six feet across the room, according to Wansink's research. Similarly, leaving food on your coffee table within reach can make you very likely to eat more. Make this work for you by placing a bowl of fruit on your coffee table. That way, you may eat twice as much nutrition-packed produce as you normally would.
By taking proper care of yourself, you can help ensure that you're around for a good, long time to take care of your child and your family. Make your own health a priority, starting today!
Disclaimer: The experiences and suggestions recounted in these articles are not intended as medical advice, and they are not necessarily the "typical" experiences of families with a child who has type 1 diabetes. These situations are unique to the families depicted. Families should check with their healthcare professionals regarding the treatment of type 1 diabetes and the frequency of blood glucose monitoring.
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