We all need to avoid toxic relationships. But I would argue that, more than most people, those of us who have diabetes need to avoid toxic relationships. These poisonous relationships can get you down, and diabetes and depression go hand in hand. When you are depressed, you are less likely to manage your diabetes as well as you would otherwise.
The worst type of toxic relationships for people with diabetes can be those that are closest to us because they can make such an impact on your daily health and mental well-being. The worst is when your partner doesn’t support the way you are managing your diabetes and actually discourages it.
I learned that lesson the hard way. Not only did one of my partners subtly mock my efforts to lose weight, but her example of not caring for her own health was a big factor that led me to gain almost 80 pounds in the 10 years we lived together. I left the relationship only after I also had been subjected to emotional abuse for more than a year.
You don’t need to have experiences like this.
The focus of most, if not all, the studies of mindful eating and drinking has been weight loss rather than diabetes. But losing weight is very important for almost everyone with type 2 diabetes because it makes managing the disease easier.
Eating and drinking mindfully are perhaps the most important keys to managing diabetes. When we are mindful of what we put in our mouths, we can satisfy our hunger and thirst better than when our minds are preoccupied with something that happened in the past or that we imagine might happen in the future.
The best tool
In my experience, bringing our weight down to normal is the best tool we have to manage our diabetes. With every pound of weight we lose, it gets easier to keep our blood glucose at the level where it doesn’t inevitably lead to the complications of diabetes.
My basic practice of mindful eating is to put down the fork or spoon that I use to eat my meal. I don’t pick it up again until I finish what I was eating. When we slow down and savor each bite, we don’t need to eat so much because the food has so much more taste to us.
I feel even the best websites are not perfect at providing everything everybody needs. Having access to websites like HealthCentral.com and Mendosa.com might be the best way to find information and get the latest news on managing diabetes and pre-diabetes, but websites still can’t offer the peer support we get when we are in face-to-face contact with members of our communities.
But people everywhere are becoming more separated from their cultural roots. Because community and culture go together, most people are more separated from their community than ever.
Once you have diabetes or pre-diabetes, your priorities need to change to a focus on your health, leading you to become even more isolated from your culture and your community. While the internet can keep you up-to-date on diabetes management, the growing focus on connecting with others through computers and smartphones makes finding community even more difficult.
You might try to convince your husband into doing what you think would help if you think that he should take better care of his diabetes. This convincing can quickly turn into what your husband might perceive as “nagging.”
Nagging might get him to shape up. But it’s likely that he will resent your interference and the quality of your marriage will suffer.
The “most surprising finding” of a study published in mid-2016 was that an increasingly rocky marriage can improve your man’s diabetes management, according to a Michigan State University press release.
Are you unhappy with the way your doctor deals with you? Maybe your doctor doesn’t listen to you or support your low-carb diet. Perhaps you’re tired of being scolded for noncompliance. Or maybe you just don’t like him or her.
You have a choice. When you realize that the relationship that you and your doctor have isn’t working, you have a decision to make.
Should I fire my doctor?
If you want to fire your doctor, you have two choices, and both of them work. You can tell him or her why you are dispensing with his or her services. Or if you tend to avoid confrontation, like I usually do, you can just find another doctor and walk away.
But I hope you won’t have to fire yours. Sharing your concerns about people’s behavior can help if they listen to you. Then, your words can encourage him or her to change.
“Some physicians are open to feedback and can change,” William Polonsky, Ph.D., told me when I met with him. Dr. Polonsky is the president of the Behavioral Diabetes Institute in San Diego and an associate clinical professor of psychology at the University of California, San Diego. “Give them a chance,” he suggests.
Vanity isn’t what draws me to look at photos of myself. The one that I look at the most shows me at my worst. I show it here only to encourage you to share your memento.
This unflattering photo shows how I looked in 2004 when I was at a dinner party of the local group of American Mensa, of which I was a member. But this shot shows that I certainly wasn’t smart. Our most important activity was eating, and I did more than my share.