Get-togethers and family events: Are you and your partner a team?

Dr Gary
By Dr GaryCA Latest Reply 2014-08-03 21:31:08 -0500
Started 2014-07-27 12:46:21 -0500

Company parties, neighborhood get-togethers. family reunions, weddings, graduations…

Social events can be a challenge for all kinds of reasons. When you’re living with a chronic condition, they can be even more challenging. You may not feel up to participating fully. Friends or relatives are not always understanding in the comments they make. The physical environment may not be comfortable. The food may not be on your diet. You may feel pressured to stay longer than you want to.

So how do you take care of yourself at social gatherings and not feel like you are on your own? Well, as the saying goes: two heads are better than one.

These events can provide an opportunity for you and your partner to team up to make the day better for both of you. Have you thought of enlisting your partner’s help?

I recently posted an article on teaming with your partner at social events. Here is a link:

Does your diabetes have an effect on your social life? Have you and your partner figured out how to support each other? Any ideas to share? Need some help?

Social gatherings don’t have to be stressful. Instead they can be an opportunity to be a real team with your partner. After all, we’re all in this together!

60 replies

gvarner10 2014-08-03 07:17:25 -0500 Report

My husband & I are very supportive of each other. We were both diagnosed at the same time although he is pre-diabetic, I was full blown. When we go out to eat we either share a plate or bring 1/2 home for a meal the next day. My married daughter is now learning to cook healthier and when we are at her house for a meal she is very accommodating to our needs. She is over weight herself and with me & her dad now diabetic she knows she needs to lose weight and eat better now. My 11 year old grandson was with me a the grocery store last week and he wanted a box of cereal. He picked up a box (I knew was loaded with sugar) then stopped and looked at the sugar content without me saying anything and said WOW! this has a lot of sugar. I then pointed out the healthier options and he picked out plain cheerios. He has also said to me when my sugar is high " your liver must have dumped". It's wonderful knowing he is paying attention and cares when so many adults don't.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2014-08-03 21:31:08 -0500 Report

Hey gvarner,

Thanks so much for sharing what's been going on with you. Wow, you have a really supportive husband. And it sounds like you are supporting each other in the adventure of healthy eating. With your daughter and grandson on board, as well. Excellent!

You are certainly a role model for your family!


Just Joyce
Just Joyce 2014-07-31 20:59:24 -0500 Report

I am single and my friends are my partners. I am always at some kind of event most of my friends know each other and are friends so we always have fun together.

I have a cousin who has a LoveFest every year at his house. Friends, family and everyone is invited. The event includes live entertainment with local artist. I planned to go this year but wasn't feeling well this past weekend. I am gearing up for another cousins birthday party. I will be there having a blast.

When I meet someone he has to pass the social test. The minute he says he is a homebody, I leave him at his house. I have places to go and people to see. If you don't like to be around people or traveling, I am not the one for him.

My dad was a homebody. He rarely went to family gatherings.He did go out with friends and with my mother but he limited places he went. He didn't mind being at home when mom went to visit her sisters or aunt for a week. He also didn't mind her going to Hawaii with my sister.

I have a few cousins with husbands and wives who like being at home but the spouse never misses a family event. I think it is all in what the couple wants to do and is willing to make compromises on. Each person is different. I do know that since I have gotten older I am not the party animal I use to be. I don't do clubs and bars but I can be found doing a lot of other things.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2014-07-31 21:52:45 -0500 Report

Hey Joyce,

Sounds like you have found a good balance between laying low and taking care of yourself when you need to, and spending time out with people you enjoy. While some people need more socialization than others, I think we all need people in our lives. And that means getting out to spend time with people, or welcoming them into our homes. If you don't want to be isolated with someone who is a homebody, better to make that clear at the beginning and not further down the road when you are feeling claustrophobic.

As always, thanks for sharing your wisdom here.


Trudie Ann
Trudie Ann 2014-07-28 14:02:30 -0500 Report

My husband and I are both retired. He doesn't like big crowds. We live way across country from our children and grandchildren, and what siblings we have left. So we don't do parties etc. We do help out at functions at the Vol. Fire Dept. here. Most of the auxiliary are our age and have diabetes and other medical problems so everything works out great at lunches ect. We all watch out for one another.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2014-07-29 19:03:03 -0500 Report

Hello Trudie Ann,

Nice to see you again, my friend. Sounds like your social situations are pretty safe in terms of managing your diet. Safety in numbers!


Sally926 2014-07-28 13:19:20 -0500 Report

I'm with nzingha, I'm single, rarely ever with anyone else that is diabetic. I also drive a truck & eating on the road except for salads is almost impossible. No one serves veggies anymore except potatoes & corn, just what I need! Lately it's more of today was good or hope I get my act together tomorrow.

Kats49 2014-07-31 19:27:09 -0500 Report

A friend of mine who is a trucker grows microgreens in his rig. You might want to check them out.
They also have their own protein…

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2014-07-29 19:02:03 -0500 Report

Hey Sally, I really appreciate your honesty. It's not easy being on your own, especially when you have limited healthy food choices. I hope you find some ways to manage your diet on the road. A challenge! One day at a time! Gary

jayabee52 2014-07-28 03:59:05 -0500 Report

Currently I am single but when my lady love moves here to be with me in approx 1 yr, we both have spoken about how we will be handling food and we really agree since she is Type 2 as well. She is low carbbing it as she is losing weight on the Atkins program.

I look forward to her moving here and starting to be a team together. She is from DC.

RebDee 2014-07-27 22:40:42 -0500 Report

Since my husband/partner died 4 1/2 years ago, my friends have become my partners especially when we go out to eat. We always share a meal. It is better for both of us as far as calories and it is only half the price due to the sharing.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2014-07-29 18:59:40 -0500 Report

Hey RebDee, what a great idea for you and your friends to support each other in this way. You're right, save the calories, save the cost, and have fun!

ReaderReader12 2014-07-27 22:33:45 -0500 Report

My partner and I are totally on the same page. She is eating whatever I cook and it is all low-carb. Today I went to a birthday party for a grandson at a Malley's Chocolate store. I took a little lunch box where I could put some ice packs and i took some of my sugar free fudge with me. I ordered just a spoon and when all the ice cream came I ate my fudge and visited and laughed just like everyone else. I didn't feel left out one little bit.

When we go to family functions during the summer there is a family member who is eating low-carb as well in fact she is the one who turned me onto the fudge so I know I don't have to worry I eat what she is having and skip the cheesy potatoes, the pasta salads there are sitting there.

It is very nice to have someone in my corner here at home that is so easy to cook for and so supportive of the changes I am making in my life. I am very thankful for sure.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2014-07-29 18:58:32 -0500 Report

Hey ReaderReader,

Good to see you again!

Wow, you have some really great support. And having your own treat along with you, so that you can participate in the fun and still take care of yourself, is a really great thing. That is taking good care of yourself.

And I agree, support is power.


Maintanenceman1 2014-07-27 20:24:51 -0500 Report

if I'm tried I'm not for plYing games with a group. alot of times I pig out on the food. I'm trying lose about 40 lbs. my a1c from Jan. was 6.2 & my doctor uses 6.8 as T2

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2014-07-29 18:56:33 -0500 Report

Good point, Maintenaceman. Eating can be a way of dealing with anxiety or discomfort. Food keeps us busy and it can be comforting. But you're right, there is a downside. Thanks for sharing this.

GabbyPA 2014-07-27 19:49:02 -0500 Report

I am the social butterfly of the team, and my hubby doesn't really like gatherings because mostly of his hearing. It's hard to have a good time when you cannot understand most of what is said by others. So while I would stay for much longer, he reigns me in sometimes and we leave when he's ready.

He has far more restrictions that I do when it comes to socializing. Just imagine showing up to someones house and not even being able to get in the front door or worse, not able to get into a bathroom. So my choices are miniscule compared to what his needs are. When I think of it that way, it leaves me little room for self pity because someone didn't think of what I need.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2014-07-29 18:55:21 -0500 Report

HI Gabby,

Thanks for this. It is a whole different perspective on managing your health at a social gathering. I really appreciate this. There is always another way to look at things. And challenges are relative.


Type1Lou 2014-07-28 10:07:49 -0500 Report

Gabby, my husband likes to say he has "low social need". He is content to stay at home but is quite gracious when I can get him to gatherings…which is not very often. He is who he is and I love him!

GabbyPA 2014-07-29 16:13:54 -0500 Report

I have to be honest, there are times when I can use him to get out of a gathering I am not so comfortable in. He's a trooper and in quiet settings he does much better because he can be a part of the conversation.

theladyiscrazy 2014-07-27 19:31:21 -0500 Report

It is funny this was posted as a topic as our family had a "reunion" over the weekend and I did not attend. Part of what influenced my decision not to attend, stemmed from food. My Mother attended diabetes class with her sister, and since they termed "carbs" as just grains, she fully believes that I shouldn't be concerned about anything other than that. It always causes a discussion. Also, I was just recently dx with an allergy to wheat (my esophagus swells when I eat it - contact type allergy not celiac), so I now have to be gluten free. As I have only been gluten free for three weeks and the menu had several items I could not eat or would have to be concerned about the ingredients utilized, it was far easier to just not attend (event was 4 hours away).

As far as my husband, he tries to be supportive. We have dealt with life threatening food allergies for my youngest and myself, so he was already aware of negative ways food can affect the body. However, he does struggle with what all constitutes carbs and how different carbs affect me. So, he tries but often just leaves things for me.

We do have an upcoming trip to MI (his family). Plus side, they have dealt with diabetes so understand more. Downside is the gluten allergy will make things more interesting AND it is a 14 - 16 hour trip. So, lots of planning for food along the way. Once there, I can go shopping and get a few things.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2014-07-29 18:48:37 -0500 Report

HI theladyiscrazy,

Great post. And as I always say, you are certainly not crazy.

I can understand why you might want to lay low since you are adjusting to a new diet. I hope you are getting results and feeling better. At least you know what you need to do to feel better.

It seems that husbands often look to their wives to help them manage their diets. I know this can be a big job.

Best wishes for your trip. Maybe you can carry some food items with you so that you can have what you need available. It does seem that I am seeing more and more gluten free options in restaurants.


theladyiscrazy 2014-07-30 16:50:22 -0500 Report

LOL. My name is Susan. I need to start signing my posts.

I am going to pack some items I can eat to take with me for the trip. I will also go shopping once I get there for things for the week. I do have a plan.

Yes, more restaurants have "gluten free" options. What you have to be careful of though, is whether or not the can guarantee it. Some have food choices that are naturally gluten free (steak for instance) but they cook it on the same stove top/pan as gluten containing foods. So cross contamination can happen. Some restaurants are just set up better than others.


rolly123 2014-07-27 18:33:37 -0500 Report

I have problem going gathering or family event!! I only have one brother and I sister I'm with my sister for vacation ! I mentioned went to gathering ate badly I have no will power at all but did lose weight! My friend who is my second mom isn't happy with me she thought I would do good with my sister !!she knows have problem with out my comfort zone! I'm going dinner with friend last time got only week left here then home!! I don't have partner help me! Any help with gathering suggest is needed

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2014-07-29 18:44:40 -0500 Report

HI rolly. You might want to consider some of the ideas other members have shared, like eating healthy before you go out, or taking food along that you can eat. Asking for support from the people you are with might also help. Let them know ahead of time that you will be ordering healthy items from the menu and ask for support in staying on your diet. Take care of yourself! Gary

crazeknot 2014-07-27 18:20:27 -0500 Report

Every year in the summer there's a family reunion & my son-in-law is a diabetic. So my daughter & me the night before take a planned menu for this event. It's not only 4 my son-in-law, anyone can have a bit 2 eat !!!

Doorhandle 2014-07-27 18:11:28 -0500 Report

I have been a diabetic going on about thirty-five years or so, I have been by myself for most of those years. I am also in dialysis for the last 2 years. I find it hard sometimes to control what I eat when a lot of family and friends eat alot. I had gotten my diabetic diet down, and now deal with a renal diet and fluid restriction. To keep control I stick to my plan when I see how much my family and friends eat and at what times, I try not to be rude when they push food and liquid on me. If only they knew how dialysis feels on the body. With me sticking to my plan I feel almost at 90% of what I use to feel. As long as I feel like this I have a really great time around them.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2014-07-29 18:42:12 -0500 Report

Hey Doorhandle,

Thanks for sharing this. You are an inspiration! A great example of putting your own health and wellness first, and keeping your eyes on the prize when those temptations come your way and standing firm.


Rose67 2014-07-27 17:57:48 -0500 Report

I usually eat a bite before events. It keeps food temptation at bay. I bring something I can eat, with plenty so share. When asked or prompted to eat a food that I can't have I just tell them I am a diabetic, and then I start educating them about diabetes and what food does. Sometimes I meet another diabetic and we start a conversation. My husband eats veggies and fruits along with foods I can not have, it does not bother me. He usually leaves when prompted to. I let him have his space to visit longer as long as I have a place where I can sit down. I have the most problem in a grocery store where he sees a friend and starts talking and talking. Then I have to get persistent about leaving.
I also relay heavily on The Lord JESUS. He has helped me to say no, and have taken a lot of temptation away. I cannot do any of this myself, again with God all things are possible.

Thank you Gary, for posting

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2014-07-29 18:40:06 -0500 Report

HI rose,

Nice to hear from you. Good idea to have a backup plan when you go to events to guarantee that there is at least something on the table that you can eat. Who knows, you might even be providing some valuable education along the way. Chances are, there is another diabetic in the crowd or at least somebody who needs to be taking better care of themselves and watching what they eat. We can all benefit from a diabetic diet

Sounds like you and your husband have a system in place. (With some prompting from you.)

Glad you have some heavenly support, too!


robertoj 2014-07-27 16:09:36 -0500 Report

My wife is a great partner except that she is too protective. People say stupid things but it's almost always the same people and I've known them all my life. It's hard to take anything they say to heart. I almost always stay longer then I plan. I get energy from people. She tries to persuade me to leave but I seldom listen and pay the price for the next day or two. Food is no problem as others too have diabetes.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2014-07-29 18:36:00 -0500 Report

Hey Roberto,

Great to see you. It's good to have a supportive partner, though I understand that this supportiveness can sometimes cross over into protectiveness. Sounds like you are extrovert -- you energize by being around other people, as you said. At least you are eating healthy when you're out with other people. Gary

Grandmama16 2014-07-27 15:54:55 -0500 Report

When I read this I thought I was on my fibromyalgia site because that's exactly the situations I get in to. Being in social situations hurts. As for diabetes that just ads to it. I was at a fund raiser for Parkinson's and everything there to eat was not diabetic friendly. It's difficult. Last night there was a block party, arranged by others but in our yard which has shade. I was very sore too from giving the dog a bath…we're dogsitting our grand doggie. She's a Wheaton Terrier, doesn't shed, mid size and very friendly. We don't mind. Hubby takes her for walks and she sleeps with us.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2014-07-29 18:32:24 -0500 Report

Hey Grandmama, thanks for chiming in. Amazing how even health-related events often feature food that is not all that healthy. A shame. Dogs can help their masters stay healthy, especially when the demand those morning and evening walks. Gary

karen7t2 2014-07-27 15:18:57 -0500 Report

I find that I am never sure before the day as to how I will be feeling. I really dislike making plans that I, later, don't want to keep. I can become super tired at the drop of a hat and if I am already at something, and don't have my own transportation, I feel very antsy. As a rule, I bring my own car and any necessities with me.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2014-07-29 18:30:19 -0500 Report

Karen, that is a very good survival strategy. Being true to yourself and how you feel, having the necessities along with you, and having a way to exit if you feel like you need to. We have to honor our own needs. Thanks! Gary

Type1Lou 2014-07-27 14:21:27 -0500 Report

I'm leaving soon to spend 12 days with relatives who live 1000 miles away. My mother was the oldest girl in a family of 15 children and helped raise her brothers and sisters. The youngest of these, my Aunt Madeleine, is the only one remaining; she is 91. I'm very close to my aunt and my cousins and, as I get older, I realize what a wonderfully supportive and loving family I have in them all. My Mom and 2 of her sisters got married the same year and, when I was young, we would spend several weeks each summer visiting with them. Food is an important part of these gatherings but I have no problem picking and choosing what is healthy for me since there are always lots of fresh veggies and fruit. My Uncle Henry was a farmer and still has a wonderful vegetable garden. It's blueberry and raspberry season where they live. My cousins are aware of and appreciate my dietary limitations and do not push "bad" foods on me. My husband will not be coming with me to visit but has no problem with my going to visit them. Life is good!

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2014-07-29 18:28:41 -0500 Report

HI Type1Lou!

Sounds like you have a great family. What excellent memories you have. And a history of healthy eating! You're lucky!

So often sharing food is all about eating fun but not so healthy food, making getting an excuse for cakes and pies. But there's another way to enjoy food together.


camerashy 2014-07-27 14:14:11 -0500 Report

Taking care of Mom, I never get to go anywhere, so I don't have to worry about it.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2014-07-29 18:17:12 -0500 Report

Hi camerashy, I remember that you are taking care of mom right now I am sure you are blessing to your mom. But I hope you are getting some time to yourself. Care for the caregiver, too.

camerashy 2014-07-29 22:28:19 -0500 Report

Mom keeps falling, and yesterday my sister and I couldn't get her up, and the EMTs who came were the CUTEST young men! I loved sitting on the bathroom floor holding Mom, but was sort of relieved when they picked her up off of me. A pointer about being vigilant with your medication - that happened because she hadn't been taking hers, and didn't tell me. If she had, I would have made sure she took it.

funnygirl98 2014-07-27 14:10:24 -0500 Report

I liked the article but do u have any suggestions for single ppl like parents that raise thier kids on their own? I personally feel out of place in social situations… feel like a third wheel sort of speak. I have other chronic conditions that doesn't help me much in these conditions Dr.Gary. Any suggesrions from ppl would be very helpful;-)

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2014-07-29 18:15:56 -0500 Report

Hi funnygirl,

That is a really good question. When you are going to these events as a solo act, that can present a whole new set of challenges.

For one, whenever you can bring a friend along, that can help guarantee that you have a support. Or, when you get there, try to connect with people you already know, or with someone who also seems to be on their own. Maybe another single parent, and you help each other watch over the kids.

Lots of people feel shy in social situations. You are in good company on that one.


karen7t2 2014-07-27 15:26:31 -0500 Report

I understand the third wheel thing. My husband and daughter do not usually want to attend the same things I do so I tend to feel alone and I am not good to open a conversation. If I go, I try my best to find a niche and if it doesn't work out I always have my own car so I often leave early.
Not much help, I know, but I just wanted you to know that you are not alone. You never know when you'll meet someone at an event that you can really connect to, so don't miss out on too many :)

Katiespace 2014-07-27 13:54:09 -0500 Report

I am very lucky I have a husband that is very understanding. My children also are understanding,one of my son in-laws Mother has Diabets so that helps. We are not night owls so we always leave early. If we don't feel comfortable we just don't go. But we seem to do fine when we do:)K

Kats49 2014-07-27 13:41:38 -0500 Report

I have always felt that I DON"T want to remembered by my health issues. So I am proactive. Even When my hubby was alive we both were proactive. Neither of us ate foods that weren't good for us. If we went to a picnic, we always brought a dish that we could eat but enough to share with others. I still do that today. I do not eat a variety of foods that others still eat. If it's going to be a BBQ. I bring a black bean burger patty. I use portion control on the others foods that are vegan friendly. When Owen was live if he felt tired, he would give me a look and I would tell the hostess or family that it was time for us to go. Gave hugs and left.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2014-07-29 16:58:26 -0500 Report

Hi Kats,

Thanks for the great idea. If you bring you own food, then you are guaranteed having something available that you can eat Great idea. And portion control! Wow, you are on the case, here! That's great.

Sounds like your husband is with you in spirit as you honor the agreement you made to support each other.


tabby9146 2014-07-27 13:38:05 -0500 Report

Thanks for the article. my husband does not support me at all, only for a bit in the beginning, and then when it seemed like I was going to be fine, he just stopped that hurt for a while, but i realized I have to be my own supporter and I am fine with that, only my mother understands the true seriousness of this. my in law's do not. even my hubby went to one of the classes with me, and at the time it seemed like he got it. I like to try to eat something healthy before I go somewhere, in which I know there will be things I will be tempted to eat, but sometimes I forget to do this. I am sometimes very comfortable and other times very uncomfortable with these things. when I am around my in law's they have made comments like, oh it won't hurt you, or go ahead you don't have any weight to lose, ugh!!! I get so mad, but they don't know it. My husband even makes those same remarks and I have explained so many things to him over the years, and it just does not sink in.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2014-07-29 16:55:52 -0500 Report

HI tabby,

I really appreciate that you checked in and shared what's going on at your house. so sorry to hear you are surrounded by so may unsupportive people, starting with your husband.

I think that family members often go into denial. If I don't acknowledge diabetes, then it will go away, and they think you should do the same thing. But as you know, it doesn't work that way.

I am glad you hear you are taking good care of yourself, trying to eat the healthy stuff, and turning down all those offers. I know it's not easy. But look at the results you are getting.

Hang in there. You are not alone!


karen7t2 2014-07-27 15:30:51 -0500 Report

I hear you about the in-laws and/or friends trying to force sweets down your throat. I very often fail just because of my lack of willpower. Eating before you go is a great idea. Grin and bare the rest. They may never understand

nzingha 2014-07-27 13:17:38 -0500 Report

You are assuming we have a partner. You should pose the question for those who don't because that makes things even harder. I am tird of going to these functions where no consideration is given for persons with diabetes. I have even spoken to caterers and hosts about the need to consider those of us who cant have the cakes, pastries and certain types of foods. Goes thru one ear and comes out thru the next- no traction at…

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2014-07-29 16:42:34 -0500 Report

Hey nzingha,

You bring up a good point. Actually two of them. Some of us are winging it on are own, and having to be our own support at social events. And I totally agree. Not everybody can -- and most shouldn't -- consumer all the sweets and high carb foods. Amazing how that request gets ignored.

Thanks for checking in, my friend.


kimfing 2014-07-27 13:15:02 -0500 Report

I do the same as lorider. I make sure i bring something a can eat if there isn't anything on the menu i may not be able to eat. I also bring my scale and measuring cups to make sure i know how much i am eating. My husband is also d and we are great support for each other.

Last night We went in date night, i brought and used my food scale.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2014-07-29 16:40:33 -0500 Report

Hi kimfing,

Great idea. You are really well prepared. And your husband sounds like a gem. I am hypoglycemic and I carry no-sugar protein bars everywhere I go.


lorider70 2014-07-27 12:53:46 -0500 Report

Usually social or family events that involve a meal are not a problem. Once in a while if I know the meal will be later than I prefer; I just eat before I go and if necessary, inform the host that I had to eat early to conform to my schedule. If they don't understand, that's their problem, not mine.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2014-07-29 16:39:41 -0500 Report

HI lorider,

Nice to see you. That's a good idea to eat before you go, especially if you suspect the food may not be what you need, or at the time you need it. That's being proactive. And yes, other people are going to react the way they're going to react.


nzingha 2014-07-29 18:31:16 -0500 Report

it's a great idea to eat before u go out. in fact i never leave home without a snack or 2 in my bag and if i dont see stuff i can eat.. i reach for my snack right in front of everyone.. and i make it known i don't eat those kinna foods.. but usually i dont leave home hungry as a rule…and i dont leave without my own food. as for flying .. that's when i get really serious about my snacks..always thinking about the unexpected delays and other in fact usually when i had to sit thru loong meetings.. i would be the person people look to for sweets, nuts and bars…lol…Me to the rescue for diabetics and non diabetics alike.