When my spouse was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, we both struggled to find a balance with our diet, and frankly, in our lives.
What I failed to realize initially was both of us had our own grief about this change in his health. He was afraid of a future with diabetes, and I was uncertain about how to help him.
Over time, we both gained a healthy fear of diabetes, and made peace with his diagnosis.
As the primary cook in the home, for me that meant finding ways to support healthy eating for both of us.
What it did not mean was bringing home chocolate milk and chocolate donuts from the grocery store, a mistake I made exactly once after his diagnosis. Let’s just say the results were not pretty.
Here are five healthy ways you can help your newly-diagnosed spouse accept and work with his or her new reality.
1. Get your own eating habits in check. All of us can improve our eating habits. Indulging in a hot fudge sundae in full view of your spouse is not helpful, and a little “in your face.” Enjoy frozen yogurt together or something healthy you both enjoy.
2. Find ways to cook his or her favorite foods in a more healthy way. So, fried chicken is off the approved list. Find a well-seasoned baked chicken recipe that will soon become his favorite, and accent it with fresh fruits and vegetables. Diabetic Connect offers a great recipe section with nutritional facts build in for counting.
3. If eating in nice restaurants has been a favorite treat, do some research and discover new places that cater to healthy eating. We live in a small city in the Midwest, yet there’s always a new restaurant opening. If you are over 55, consider ordering from the senior menu. It's a triple win—smaller portions, lower prices, and, in most cases, healthy options.
4. Take advantage of the new technology for people with diabetes. I recently wrote an article for Diabetic Connect about four mobile diabetes apps. This is only the beginning; there are almost unlimited choices for recording eating and exercise, blood sugar levels, and even apps with diabetes-friendly recipes.
5. Remember, both of you are only human. Understanding diabetes in both your lives is a huge change. Have diabetes-friendly snacks available for craving times, including celery with a bit of peanut butter or low-glycemic index berries. Listen to your spouse — don’t be judgmental, just be there.
Oars rowing the same direction get the canoe to its destination much easier. Work with your spouse — not against him or her.