When making changes in diet and lifestyle that are essential to managing your diabetes, having support at home will play a key part in creating good habits that will stick. By managing diabetes as a family, you also give your loved ones an opportunity to help you meet your health goals—and implement some healthy habits of their own.
Talk it out
A diabetes diagnosis can be just as scary for your family as it is for you. Therefore, the more they understand about your diabetes and what you need to do every day to keep it under control, the more secure they will feel about the situation. Be sure to talk openly about your disease so they feel comfortable asking questions and voicing any concerns.
Have family members accompany you on appointments with your healthcare team to help them understand what’s involved in managing your disease. Encourage them to get involved in diabetes-related programs available through your local diabetes centres. Take advantage of activities available for families, such as family fun days and camps. Find more information here on ways family members can support their loved ones with diabetes.
If your family starts nagging or policing you about your diabetes regimen, remind them that you’re ultimately in control of your own disease management. Demonstrate that you are taking your condition seriously by following diabetes management recommendations. Here is more on how to deal with “the diabetes police” in your family.
Getting your family to join you in some physical activity—which is a key part of managing your diabetes—will be good for you and them. Consider taking up a new active hobby together, such as skiing or tennis, or suggest a group hike after dinner. Find other ideas here for active things you can do with the family.
Have fun with food
Eating the right type of food at the right time is a critical part of successfully managing your diabetes. You may need to eat more frequent, smaller meals than the one or two larger meals your family is used to. Once they understand this, not only can your family provide reminders to get you back on track when it comes to food, they can get involved in shopping and cooking healthy meals with you. By working together to stock the pantry and refrigerator with healthy snacks, you can all make the best food choices, even when time is at a premium. Find tips here on how to navigate the grocery store for healthy snacks.
Prepare them for an emergency
Tell them about how to spot signs of hypoglycemia (a condition that occurs when your blood sugar dips too low) so they can understand what you go through and can act quickly in an emergency. If you use insulin, show your family how to administer glucagon so they can do it for you if needed. Be sure they know where you keep your diabetes supplies. You may also want to show them how to perform finger sticks for blood glucose, or inject saline into an orange to mimic the process of injecting insulin.
Focus on other things
As important as it to talk about your diabetes openly to alleviate any concerns from family, it’s also crucial not to make it your family’s primary focus. The stress of constantly thinking about your diabetes will take a toll on your body. After all, stress has been shown to raise blood sugar levels and impact sleep, which is essential to good health.
If needed, declare a time of day (during car rides, or after dinner, for example) when you don’t talk about anything diabetes related. The ultimate goal is to create positive, healthy habits that will benefit the whole family, rather than stringent protocols associated with your diabetes.
Remember that while you may be dealing with some challenges associated with managing a chronic disease such as diabetes, your family wants to support you. It’s your job to show them how.