Good Things about Having Diabetes, Believe It or Not
It may be hard to believe there are good things about having diabetes if you have the disease or live with someone who does. However, there is something to be said about viewing a glass as half full instead of half empty, and about looking for some of the positive things to be said about having diabetes, which may help you better cope with and manage the disease.
What’s good about having diabetes?
A recent study reported on how motivational training helped patients with diabetes develop a positive attitude and ultimately improve metabolic control. The study involved 61 adults who participated in a motivational program designed to change mental attitude and beliefs, but not teach patients about diabetes.
After three months, the participants saw improvements in their weight, body mass index, blood pressure, triglyceride levels, and hemoglobin A1c percentages. The study’s authors noted that “as these improvements were maintained long-term, this points to sustainable lifestyle change.”
So here are some good things about having diabetes. (Please note there is a difference between saying having diabetes is a good thing, and that there can be good things about having diabetes.)
You are more in touch with your body. Having diabetes means not only knowing what your blood sugar levels are every day, but “reading” your body and recognizing when your sugar levels may be too low and paying attention to changes in your vision, feeling in your fingers and toes, energy level, body weight, and more. Being more aware of your body and its changes allows you to recognize when something may be amiss and to take action before the situation progresses, such as complications associated with diabetes.
You are encouraged to try new foods. Chances are you were advised to make some significant dietary changes when you were diagnosed with diabetes. Rather than viewing the diagnosis as the time to eliminate favorites from your menu, consider how to adopt some new foods to take their place. It’s not about never eating ice cream again; it’s about trying dietetic ice cream and discovering new desserts. Make a list of new foods that are good for diabetes and try one new one each week.
You can make new friends. Millions of people have diabetes, and there are support groups both real and virtual (online) where you can share your fears, concerns, ideas, recipes, and other topics about diabetes. Although having diabetes is not a party, you can still celebrate making new friends with others who share your overall situation.
You are encouraged to exercise more. Let’s face it: it can be difficult to motivate yourself to exercise, and having diabetes is an important reason to get up and move. You don’t have to exercise alone: bring along a friend, join an aerobics class, walk during lunch, find a diabetes support group where members get together and exercise.
You can learn new cooking skills. There’s no shortage of books or websites on easy recipes for diabetes. You can learn new ways to prepare old favorites as well as how to incorporate foods low on the glycemic scale into your daily menu.
You can politely avoid food. An acquaintance told me this positive aspect of diabetes. Whenever she wants to avoid eating something someone has made (her example was an aunt who is a terrible baker who keeps making all sorts of baked goods), she can say, “I can’t eat that because of my diabetes.”
You can get healthier. If you follow the diet, weight loss, exercise, and stress management advice for people with diabetes, you can improve not only your management of diabetes, but your overall health as well.
You can become more disciplined. If you want to live a full, healthy life with diabetes, then you need to follow the advice of your healthcare providers. That requires discipline, and that’s a skill that comes in handy in nearly every aspect of your life: at home or work, learning new skills, and as an example for your kids.
Your family can get healthier. If you need to follow a more healthful diet and lifestyle, why not make it a family affair? That way everyone can benefit from a more balanced and nutritious diet, regular exercise, and weight control. Everyone wins.
You can be a positive role model. Following a healthy eating program, exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy weight, and paying attention to your overall health on a daily basis are excellent lessons to show a child. Even if you don’t have children, your family, friends, coworkers, and neighbors may benefit from seeing your positive ways of coping with and managing diabetes. You could be an inspiration for others and help them deal with diabetes.
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Kempf K et al. The Da Vinci Medical-mental motivation program for supporting lifestyle changes in patients with type 2 diabetes. Dtsch Med Wochenschr 2012 Feb; 137(8): 362-67