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Diabetes Management for Teens with Lifestyle Modification.

Diabetes Management for Teens with Lifestyle Modification.

Having diabetes as a teen can be challenging. But we see young clients with diabetes in our clinic all the time. Most often, obesity and bad lifestyle is a leading factor. In some cases, Diabetes can be triggered by an auto- immune condition also like in the case of type 1 diabetes. 

However, regardless of the type of diabetes you have, you can still make sustainable and easy lifestyle and nutritional changes to take charge of your health.

Stay with me as I disclose the secrets of diabetes management from a young age. 

Introduction: You Got This!

Type 1 Diabetes is increasingly associated with teens and kids, with an average age of diagnosis of 13 years. The incidence of type 2 diabetes is also increasing among the younger age groups. 

Both have different etiologies and pathogenesis, but they can be managed with lifestyle medicine.

Here is more details on the mechanism behind Diabetes. I highly insist you read these articles for clarity in thought process:

Type 2 has strong associations with:

  • Obesity,
  • Inflammation,
  • Lifestyle patterns, and,
  • Nutritional Habits.

Here, the body develops insulin resistance (inability to use insulin), and chronic inflammation speeds up the complications. 

On the other hand, type 1 has a genetic predisposition in which the pancreatic cells are destroyed and become unable to secrete sufficient insulin. This type of diabetes is also known as the 'insulin-dependent' type because the patient has to take exogenous insulin.

That is the factual basis of the two types of diabetes. Both lead to high blood sugar levels, which can be managed very effectively with lifestyle modifications. 

The diagnosis of diabetes does not have to define you or stop you living your teenhood. A few principle points and nutritional choices are enough to help you get ahead of your health goals. 

diabetes teen

However, I can never put enough emphasis on taking charge of your health from an early age. I do not want to overshadow the fact that chronic high blood sugar levels can lead to complications. Kidney damage, neuropathy, damage to the retina, high cholesterol levels, and increased risk of heart disease are some of them. 

Lifestyle Medicine: Your Superpower, Not a Punishment.

Lifestyle medicine is your strongest armor against both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. It might give the impression of an unpalatable diet that snatches away all the good-tasting options. But that is not true. Let's change your perspective.


Healthy lifestyle habits are built overtime and often influenced by your family members. For instance, my parents were never into exercise or sports. Thus, my sibling and I grew up not inclined towards fitness. I did not enter a gym till I was 18 years of age. 

However, home- cooked meals were a big part of our family culture. My mom would cook fancy delicacies at home on demand and we seldom ate out. Thus, when it comes to food still, I prefer home cooked meals to store- bought hyper- palatable snacks. 

Inculcating fitness to be a part of my lifestyle was hard for me and still requires discipline. But avoiding hyper- palatable foods is rather easy for me. 

Family lifestyle patterns really determine kids lifestyle patterns. So if you are a parent reading this, think of ways you can change your lifestyle habits. The teen's most often will follow the same

While working with clients, I demand for the parents to participate in the consultation calls to help set right expectations. It is often easier to work with teen's but can be tricky working with adults ;)

What are the benefits of changing your lifestyle you ask?

  • Almost no hospital visits. 
  • A healthy-looking body. 
  • Normal range blood sugar levels.
  • Considerably reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases.
  • More energy throughout the day.
  • Well-managed blood pressure
  • Reduced risk of diseases of the eyes and nerves.

If you are a parent reading up for your child, bring up a healthy lifestyle commitment for the whole family. A clean, healthy routine should be the way of living for all the members of your family. 

If you are a teen planning to take your health into your control by improving your eating and sleep habits, take your whole family in on the plan. You should lead a healthier, more fulfilling life together. This will make you commit and stick to it more effectively without feeling like you are on a restrictive diet plan.

I have discussed the essential lifestyle changes you want to start making in the video above. Now it is all about building new habits.

What Should You Eat?

The most effective diet for Diabetes Management/ Reversal is a Whole- Food Plant- Based diet.

Here is one of our client talking about her experience on managing type 1 Diabetes:

A plant-based diet is a powerhouse of essential nutrients. Not only that, as long as you are eating a low fat diet, you do not need to worry about calorie or carb counting. Whole- foods are dense in volume but low in calories. Thus, helping you stay fuller without piling on extra body weight. 

A plant-based diet offers all essential nutrients, vitamins, carbohydrates, fats, and proteins in perfect ratios.

Research indicates that individuals following plant-based eating patterns tend to have:

  • lower body mass indexes (BMIs), and,
  • reduced risks of obesity-related diseases such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular issues.

This is particularly easy to follow for teen's who have a larger appetite and can eat to their heart's content without feeling guilty or worsening their symptoms. None of my clients count their calories or need to track their macros. They just eat yummy whole- foods.

diet for diabetes kids

The lower calorie density of many plant-based foods, which allows for satisfying meals while promoting weight loss. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes are typically lower in calories compared to processed and animal-derived foods (meat/ eggs/ dairy), making them effective choices for diabetes management.

Take dairy, for example. More than 60% of the fatty acids in cow's milk and, consequently, in dairy products are saturated. This leads to more insulin resistance and worsening of HbA1C levels. 

  • Soluble fiber, on the other hand, found in oats, pulses, and apples, can help lower cholesterol levels and improve blood sugar control, giving you long-term control over heart health and diabetes management.
  • Insoluble fiber, commonly found in whole grains, vegetables, and nuts, adds bulk to stool, promotes regular bowel movements, prevents constipation, and supports digestive health. Fiber acts as a prebiotic, nourishing beneficial gut bacteria and contributing to a balanced gut microbiome.

You will feel more energy throughout the day without worrying about blood sugar. Once you give up dairy, refined sugars, and animal-derived foods, you body starts healing. 

If you understand hindi, watch this to better understand diabetes:

Food & Fun: Creating an Exciting Meal Plan

 As a parent, I strongly recommend bringing in fun to your weekly menu. Teen's are exploring their taste buds and enjoy different textures, colors and flavors.  

Involve your kids and family members in meal planning. Try to make their plate more colorful and creative. 

teen diabetes diet


While a diabetes specific meal plan must be personalized only by a nutritionist, the below options can give you some inspiration. Please exert caution though as diabetes management is tricky and one must only work under the guidance of an expert.

My team and I can further help you curate a meal plan that is right for you. Click here to know more.

Here are some recipes that my clients frequently eat.  


  • Brown Rice Pongal: A South Indian delicacy with a perfect balance of proteins/ carbs and essential fats from nuts. I insist my clients pair this with a bowl of fruits for extra nutrients.
  • Green smoothie: Blend spinach, kale, frozen berries, almond milk, and a tablespoon of ground flaxseeds. Breakfast on the go for busy teens. 
  • Hummus and Microgreens Sandwich: Another favorite of mine that can be prepared in advance for a quick put- together breakfast. 

Mid-Morning Snack:

  • Cut Fruits: Stick to low- GI fruits if you have Type- 1 Diabetes. But EAT your fruit. Fruits are not only ok, but essential for diabetes management. 

    Read more here: 

    Fruits- How much should you have per day?

  • Air- Fried Sweet Potato: Worried about carbs for diabetes? Read this.


  • Quinoa salad with mixed vegetables (like bell peppers, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, and carrots), chickpeas, and a lemon-tahini dressing.
  • Rajma/ Chawal Buddha Bowl: Fill half your bowl with vegetables (raw or sauteed with only soy sauce, no oil). Rest is divided with Rajma and Chawal.
  • Vegetable Khichdi: Use the same ratio with 50% of the portion filled with vegetables, rest is 25% rice and 25% lentils. 


  • Baked tofu or tempeh served with roasted sweet potatoes and steamed broccoli.
  • Misestrone Soup: Use lentil based pasta to add to your soup, making it extra rich in Proteins. 

Here are some more dinner ideas:

    Important Tips:

    1. Encourage plenty of water throughout the day.
    2. Aim for whole, minimally processed plant foods.
    3. Monitor blood sugar levels regularly, especially when making changes to the diet.
    4. Regular physical activity is also important for managing diabetes.
    5. Avoid sugary drinks and snacks, and opt for whole fruits instead of fruit juices.
    6. Experiment with different herbs and spices to add flavor to meals without adding extra salt or sugar.

    Beyond the Plate: Your Daily Dose of Movement.

    Pick any physical activity that you enjoy. It could be playing a sport or working on your dance movies. Calisthenics, parkour and yoga are some of my other favorite activities. 

    Any type of movement helps. Just as long as you are doing it consistently. Here is how your daily dose of movement can play a role in diabetes management. 

    Blood Sugar Regulation: 

    During exercise, your muscles use glucose for energy, reducing blood sugar levels. This effect can last for hours after the activity, helping you maintain stable blood sugar levels throughout the day.

    Improved Insulin Sensitivity: 

    Regular physical activity increases your insulin sensitivity, meaning the body requires less insulin to transport glucose into cells. 

    Weight Management: 

    Excess weight is a risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes and can aggravate insulin resistance. Regular physical activity can help you manage weight by burning calories and increasing metabolism.

    Stress Reduction: 

    Managing stress is important for teens with diabetes, as stress hormones can raise blood sugar levels. Engaging in sports and physical activities can provide an outlet for stress relief and promote overall mental health.

    Bone Health: 

    Weight-bearing exercises such as running, jumping, and resistance training help build and maintain bone density. 

    Social Interaction: 

    Participating in sports provides opportunities for social interaction and teamwork. These are important for overall emotional health and well-being.

    Sleep Matters: Catching Zzz's for Better Health

    Thanks to our hyper- connected social media world, we are sleeping lesser and lesser.

    teens with diabetes sleep

    Sleep controls the release of your growth hormones, sex hormones and even hunger and satiety hormones. Lack of adequate sleep can further make you insulin resistant and make diabetes management worse. 

    Here are a few ways how sleep can make diabetes symptoms worse. 

    Sleep and Blood Sugar Regulation:

    Our bodies naturally experience a rise in blood sugar levels throughout the night, regardless of sleep.

    Bad sleep/ circadian habits can make it harder for the body to predict these rise and fall's in your blood sugar level. This can further exaggerate episodes of hypo and hyperglycemia. 

    Lack of Sleep and Increased Blood Sugar Risk:

    Studies have shown a strong link between insufficient sleep and an increased risk of developing insulin resistance. You can find experimental evidence that if you put healthy individuals and prevent them from getting adequate, consistent sleep throughout the night, they will display increased insulin resistance and deranged blood sugar levels. 

    So, it's important that you wrap your parties up early and go to bed right on time. Modifying food choices alone won't be as effective as coupling it with a healthy sleep schedule. 

    Here is what you are going to do:

    • Aim for 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night.
    • Establish a regular sleep schedule, including bedtime and wake-up times, and adhere to it as closely as possible.
    • Ensure your bedroom is conducive to sleep. Make sure it's dark, quiet, and cool.
    • Develop a calming pre-sleep routine that signals your body it's time to wind down.

    When working with clients, my team helps parents set up a proper sleep routine that the whole family can follow in supporting the teens. 

    Taming the Teenage Stress Monster

    Juggling school work, social life, and managing your health can be stressful. Stress can lead to releasing hormones like cortisol, which can increase blood sugar levels. This can set in a vicious cycle of events that can become difficult for a teen to manage.

    But don't worry; you can learn to manage stress and navigate those tough moments. 

    Follow these steps. 

    Identify Your Stressors: 

    The first step is to figure out what triggers your stress. Is it managing blood sugar levels before exams? Dealing with social pressures?

    Once you identify your stressors, you can develop strategies to cope with them effectively.

    Healthy Habits for the Win: 

    Prioritizing healthy habits like a balanced diet, regular exercise, and sufficient sleep forms the foundation for managing stress. 

    Physical activity is a great stress reliever, while a healthy diet provides your body with the energy it needs to handle challenges. 

    Relaxation Techniques are Your Allies: 

    Techniques like deep breathing, meditation, and yoga can be powerful tools for managing stress in the moment. 

    Learning relaxation techniques allows you to calm your mind and body during stressful situations. 

    Plan and Organize: 

    Feeling overwhelmed often stems from a lack of control. Develop a daily or weekly routine that incorporates diabetes management tasks, schoolwork, and activities you enjoy. 

    Planning ahead and staying organized can help you feel more prepared and in control, reducing stress levels.

    Talk it Out: 

    Don't bottle up your feelings! Talking to a trusted friend, family member, therapist, or your healthcare team can be incredibly helpful. Sharing your worries and concerns allows them to offer support and guidance. 

    Chronic stress can contribute to insulin resistance, making it harder for your body to utilize insulin effectively and regulate blood sugar levels.

    Celebrate the Victories: 

    Managing diabetes takes dedication and hard work. Celebrate your successes, no matter how small. 

    Acknowledging your accomplishments can boost your confidence and motivation, making it easier to navigate challenges.

    Once again, having experts onboard to help you deal with these issues is essential. We have a psychologist on my team to help my clients with stress management

    Building Your Support System: You're Not Alone!

    Living with diabetes can sometimes feel isolating, but remember, you're not in this alone! Building a strong support system is crucial for managing your diabetes effectively and maintaining emotional well-being. 

    Here's how you can create a network of people who can provide encouragement, guidance, and understanding:

    Family and Friends: 

    Talk to your family and close friends about your diagnosis. Educate them about diabetes and how they can support you. 

    Whether it's helping you prepare healthy meals, joining you for exercise sessions, or simply offering a listening ear, their understanding and encouragement can make a significant difference.

    Diabetes Online Communities: 

    There's a wealth of online resources available for teens with diabetes. Consider joining online forums or social media groups specifically for young people with diabetes. 

    Remember! Diabetes and its diagnosis are not a stigma. There is nothing associated with diabetes that should stop you from doing or achieving anything in life. 

    You can build a healthy routine based on a plant-based diet and a clean schedule, and everything will work just fine. 

    Healthcare Team: 

    We have an integrated team with multiple experts to help clients with Diabetes Management. Our doctors work in sync with our wellness experts, nutrition and fitness coaches and even our mental health coaches. 

    This integrated approach makes it easy for clients to get the support they need all in one place.

    Working with Your Doctor: The Winning Team.

    Managing diabetes requires you to be well-informed on the matter. Only the professionals and experts can help you with that.

    Here's why each member plays a crucial role:

    Doctors and Diabetes Educators: 

    Your doctor is your captain, overseeing your overall health and diabetes management strategy. 

    Your diabetes educators will provide in-depth information and support, empowering you with the knowledge to manage your diabetes effectively.

    Mental Health Professionals: 

    A therapist can always help you deal with emotional challenges. Instead of doing it all by yourself, you should seek help from a professional. 

    Your mental health is as important as your physical health goals!

    Nutrition Experts: 

    Nothing can do the wonders for your diabetic health that a whole- foods, clean eating plan can. 

    A registered nutritionist can work with you to create a personalized meal plan that considers your preferences and helps you achieve optimal blood sugar control.

    Fitness Professionals: 

    Regular physical activity is essential for overall health and diabetes management. 

    A certified fitness trainer can design a safe and effective exercise program based on your fitness level and interests, helping you stay active and improve blood sugar control.

    Remember: Open and honest communication is the key. Don't hesitate to discuss any challenges you face with diabetes management, whether it's sticking to your nutrition plan, managing stress, or incorporating exercise into your routine. 

    Your team is here to listen, provide support, and work together to overcome any obstacles.

    We are the only program in the country that offers medical and psychological support, along with nutrition and fitness coaches, all under one roof. Together, we can help you reverse your diabetes.

    Conclusion: You Are in Control - A Bright Future with Whole- Foods.

    There can be no greater power against diabetes than consistent and healthy eating patterns and sticking to the circadian rhythm of your body. Especially as teens, once you stick to a certain lifestyle, the benefits multiply over time.

    I strongly recommend consulting your doctor before changing your nutritional patterns. The doctor will adjust the dosage of your diabetes medication as the nutrition coach can work with healing your body. 

    Let's Just Talk. No Obligations.

    I do free consultations every Tuesday's and Thursday's. Either way you will get some actionable tips to reach your fitness goals faster.

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    About Roshni Sanghvi

    Roshni Sanghvi is an Indian plant-based sports nutritionist and body transformation specialist. She is the first Indian to represent on a national bodybuilding stage being on a 100% plant-based diet. Roshni is a holistic nutritionist, graduated from the prestigious NutraPhoria college of nutrition in Canada.

    She is also an ACE-certified personal trainer, certified PlantFed gut coach, certified Bodyshred, and Animal flow instructor with a specialisation in disease reversal through food and lifestyle modification.

    Her approach is more focused on helping you in adopting a healthy lifestyle. With her result-oriented holistic methods, she has managed to transform and reverse lifestyle diseases such as PCOS, Thyroid, Diabetes etc for 12k+ clients worldwide.