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Education on Diabetes, Fitness

Body Image and Type 1 Diabetes

Recent studies are showing that people living with type 1 diabetes are more likely to have body image problems (Click here to read the study if you are interested!).

This post will briefly explain why this might be the case, and how to help yourself feel more body confident!

Factors implicating body image

Insulin injections can cause weight gain, especially when people are first diagnosed. This largely depends on the type of insulin, how much is injected and individuality. It may not cause weight gain for some people, but others may really struggle with this.

calorie counting - body image

Weight can fluctuate very quickly when blood glucose is not controlled. Having to count carbohydrates and calories can contribute towards obsession and restriction. It can cause people living with diabetes to ‘care’ more about the way they look, rather than diabetes management.

Wearing diabetes technology can also draw unwanted attention to the body, all of these factors together can cause some body image problems.

How to feel more body confident

1. Go back to basics – rather than overcomplicating health and cutting things out, focus on eating a balanced diet, staying hydrated and sleeping enough. Focus on one point at a time, for example ‘this week I will start eating 6 portions of fruit and veg everyday’. Slowly making changes makes it more likely you’ll stick to them!

2. Get movement in – Movement is vital for all aspects of health and gives us a sense of accomplishment. Make time to move your body, in whatever way you like!

3. Start a journal – Reflection is a very useful tool. Write down how you feel everyday and think about why you are feeling negatively about your body. Once you find why, you can make changes to support yourself.

4. Watch what you follow on social media – Social media can have such a big impact on mental health. It is vital that you only follow accounts that bring you positivity. Unfollow accounts that make you feel negative about the way you look. – This applies IRL too!

social media - body image

5. Speak to someone you trust – Someone else’s perspective will likely make you feel better and more confident. Problems seem a lot more manageable once we say them out loud!

6. Do more of what makes you feel good – Make time to get your hair cut, go to your favourite coffee shop, whatever it is that instantly makes you feel good. When we put time aside for ourselves we gain a more positive outlook on life.

self care - body image

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If you liked this post, be sure to check out Diabulimia 101! and Lumpy skin from insulin injections? Here’s what you need to know!

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Tips on teaching children to inject

Learning to inject as a child can be a pressured and stressful experience. Therefore it is vital to give every child living with diabetes the correct support to build confidence.

Firstly, we must recognise individuality and understand that each child will require different support. Some children will take a lot longer to feel confident enough to inject, keep reading for all my tips on how to overcome this!

Recognising when your child is ready

nerves - teaching children to inject

This depends on a range of factors, such as how old the child was at diagnosis, their confidence on diabetes control and their personality.

Some children will learn to inject immediately after diagnosis, and other children could have parents or carers injecting them until they are ready to inject themselves.

If your child has an overwhelming sense of anxiety at the thought of injecting, they are not ready. Making a child feel forced will make this a traumatic experience when it really doesn’t have to be!

Try to encourage your child to complete preparation activities (listed below), remove any sense of urgency and be as patient as you can be.

Preparation activities

oranges to inject

Preparation activities can be completed in the weeks and months leading up to the child injecting themselves.

This allows children to get used to the correct technique, build confidence and experience.

For younger children, JDRF have an injection teddy (called Rufus!) with patches over injection sites. This can be fantastic to ‘normalise’ the concept of injecting, and the teddy can make children feel like they have a buddy, preventing feelings of isolation. Having toys can also take some pressure off, and can be made into a game of taking turns. Click here to get your Rufus now!

Another useful tip I have is to use an orange or lemon to practice injecting into. These fruits have generally the same thickness of skin, and mimics the sensation of injecting a needle into yourself.

Finally, try and get the child to hold your hand while you are injecting them. You are still doing all of the work, it is just easing the child in slowly.

What to look out for when your child starts injecting

When your child is ready to inject, I recommend swapping over, having the child hold the pen and do most of the work, with your hand over the top for comfort. Again, this is slowly progressing from the last step and adding another building block to their confidence.

Another tip is to take it in turns to do injections, if your child has more anxiety in the mornings, it might be best for you to do the morning injection, and for them to do the lunch or dinner injection. Eventually the worry and anxiety will diminish as new routines establish.

Encouragement is vital at this stage, don’t continue to inject your child if they want to try to do their injections on their own!

Watch their technique as they start to take control, some children can forget to rotate injection sites, so gentle reminders will help to prevent injection site soreness and lumps.

Eventually your child will inject all on their own, which will be an incredibly rewarding and proud moment that must be celebrated!

Further support for children and parents

support - teaching children to inject

Your nurse and consultant team should absolutely be providing support, tips and information on making this transition.

If your child is really struggling, contact the team, or your GP for further guidance and anxiety management.

If you are struggling as a parent, my best advice is to find other parents going through the same situation. Have a look for Facebook support groups, or get into contact with your diabetic team and they can give you some contacts.

Thank you for reading Tips on teaching children to inject! I hope you found this useful and I hope this is a smooth transition for you. Be sure to subscribe for more content and follow me on Instagram!

If you liked this post, be sure to check out Supporting a child transitioning into secondary school while living with diabetes and Diabetes technology 101!