Surviving Christmas with the Diabetes Police

Originally posted on Diabetes Daily:

It’s beginning to look a lot like… CARBS! Yes, it’s that time of the year for over-indulging. All that delicious food, loaded with butter and sugar. So tasty… so comforting… so… STOP! At least that’s what we’re going to hear the most because we live with diabetes. Oh, yes, the Diabetes Police are out to get us. They “know” sugar is bad for us, and they want to keep us away from it. Don’t even look at that nice tray of cookies.

Annoying, right?

So, if this is that special time of the year to eat, drink and be merry, how are we supposed to enjoy the holidays with someone nagging us about what we should and shouldn’t eat? I’ve been there, with someone giving me the stink eye because I went for the sweets. It’s embarrassing, it’s infuriating—especially when you’re chastised in front of everybody—and I know it takes a lot of self-control sometimes not to snap. After all, we’re already living with a condition that limits some of the choices we make, and having someone reminding us of the fact isn’t much fun.

How do we handle it, then? Here are 5 tips:

  1. Education. I think dealing with the Diabetes Police is an opportunity to educate others about how we deal with diabetes and its many complexities. Tell them about how some of us use insulin to help our bodies process carbs; or explain how even people with diabetes can learn to be smart about food choices and exchanges without having to sacrifice  a good moment at the table. Most people just don’t know better.
  2. Planning ahead. We can be honest and upfront, and ask people not to single us out no matter how good their intentions are. Instead of getting reactive, we can be proactive. For example, is there a way to prepare certain foods you know would be healthier? Don’t be afraid to ask if it’s possible to accommodate it.
  3. Realistic behavior. We know how our bodies work, we know how those 90 grams of carbs will make us feel. So the best way to keep the Diabetes Police at bay is probably stay on track with our own management. We have the knowledge, we have the tools, it is our responsibility to take care of ourselves.
  4. Self-love. The most important thing is to keep in mind that we don’t have to be perfect, and we can’t let other people make us feel bad for not being perfect. Remember Eleanor Roosevelt’s famous quote, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” Accept the challenges, roll with the punches, correct whenever you have to, and move on. But most of all, demand respect from others.
  5. Appreciation. In the end, our family and friends think they’re helping us, supporting us, and doing what’s best for us. Understanding what good support looks like for people with diabetes isn’t easy, so we’ve gotta remember that they’re policing and they’re comments are usually coming from a place of love.

I hope you all have a blessed holiday season, happy numbers and lots of memories to cherish!

His Thoughts About Type 2

I asked my husband to write something about diabetes from his perspective. This is what he had to say about living with a person who has type 2 diabetes.

Diabetes sucks, no way around that fact. It is a disease that affects people in a big way no matter what type they have. The hardest thing for me to understand was that a metabolic disease affects a the person in a lot of levels. So my tale begins.

I still don’t understand as much about diabetes as I should, but I try to keep myself somewhat informed. The truth of diabetes is that while it affects all facets of your life when you have it, it is not the only culprit. Sure, sometimes a “low” can cause impatience, hunger, thirst, but the person can also be simply hungry, thirsty or in an impatient mood. Living with someone with diabetes makes you learn to keep track of that and also learn how to prevent it.

That is probably the most frustrating part of diabetes with your significant other. The problem is metabolism, but a lot of it comes from how your body reacts to nutrition, especially for people with type 2. It is not only about, “hey, don’t eat sugar.” You would think that the hardest part would be to tell someone, “hey, you should not eat that…” Actually the hard part is to get them to eat when they don’t want to.

A lot of people link obesity with diabetes, especially type 2. The reality is that the frustrating thing of the disease is that even when you do eat healthy, your body might not process the good food as well either. That and that it is all about constant good nutrition, not just good nutrition when the “bad” cop is around.

That is the part I hate about diabetes, being the “bad” cop. Having to tell your loved one that ice cream might not be the right thing to eat when you know they want to eat it. I am in an even worse situation because I don’t care for sugar at all. I can go months or years without ice cream, cookies or cakes. If your significant other is someone that loves those things, it feels horrible because they don’t tell you not to eat bacon even though you have a history of heart disease in your family. It is a constant struggle between being loving, understanding and also supportive.

Then again, I struggle with making sure that my wife eats properly when I am not around. She is not very good about snacking and ends up not eating anything all morning and being really low by lunch time. While the highs are sometimes considered the dangerous ones when dealing with diabetes, the lows also happen quite often.

Besides nutrition the other factor that diabetes affects is energy. You cannot process the fuel, so your energy level is probably lower as well right?

Even though I have been very sedentary for years working in the computer field, I do have energy to do stuff. It can get frustrating when that energy does not match your significant others energy. Everyone loves to talk about exercise, but how about when there is no energy to do that because your body is not processing things to give you that energy in an efficient and constant manner?

Enough about the lows though. Life with a diabetic is no different than life with anyone else. Everyone, as they get older, has aches and pains. Diabetics get to learn to deal with those and adjust a lot earlier in life. It is also awesome when you see that their careful care of their disease yields good A1C numbers… whatever A1C is 🙂

You can visit my hubby’s blog and read more of what he has to say about everything. I married a smart one!