When You Both Have Diabetes

Learning to better manage the disease with your partner

kalimah bioBy Kalimah Johnson

August 2012 — When you and your partner are managing type 2 diabetes together, there are always opportunities for heated discussions, placing blame, food policing, and other infractions that can be committed against each other, solely based on having the disease. I mean, there have been times when we both decide to eat out at a restaurant that only provides options that will send our sugar levels sky high. We indulge in second portions of bread, high fructose beverages, plenty of pasta, and a barrel of baked goods. Then we regret it. We mask our bad habits in the doing of good deeds, like going to the gym or trying to drink more water, but this is hardly enough to counteract our aforementioned actions and indiscretions.

So a heated discussion related to our bad habits around food choices might include comments such as, "We are sitting up in here eating like two pigs," or, "I bet you won't check your sugar tonight," or, "My A1C was lower than yours last time, so I can eat this." We are both guilty of making these statements to one another and it can be quite hurtful. I mentioned to my partner how painful I thought this was and we agreed that we both should find a better way to communicate our feelings about having to manage the disease together and about how complicated it can sometimes be to make food choices. For the sake of February — the month of love — we have made a promise to each other that we would make better choices together and a commitment to taper the sarcasm and highlight the positive choices we make instead.

I have noticed over time that we find ourselves placing blame on each other, instead of taking full responsibility for what we eat, how often we exercise, and when we test or monitor our blood sugar levels. For instance, we went to one of those huge discount membership club-like stores and bought 12 cans of corn and 12 cans of peas, knowing that those items tend to send our blood sugar high. Neither one of us opted for the string beans or protein, which will help us manage our blood sugars better. When we got home, we both blamed each other for the oversight, instead of going back to the store to exchange some of the cans to reflect a more fair and balanced pantry. I must say this is a very small infraction, but to make things better we have decided to sit down together to make the grocery list and have made a commitment to walk together at least three times a week. To add a little romance, we have also started cooking more meals together and creating the ambiance we so love when we go to our favorite intimate restaurant by setting the table, lighting a candle, and dimming the lights during dinner. I won't mention what happens after dinner, but you can take dLife's Diabetes and Sex quiz to determine if your diabetic sex life is (or is not) working for you.

Cooking at home gives us the option to prepare our meals with our health in mind. Also, it gives us the chance to meet the meter in the morning with a number we can live with (between 80-120). My partner and I have also been guilty of checking trash bags, back car seats, and the least-used drawers in the kitchen for the fast food contraband, candy wrappers, pastry boxes, empty ice cream containers, etc., just to monitor the egregious acts. We attempt to police each other and challenge our habits that wreak havoc on our type 2 diabetes. We only do it because we love each other, but there has to be a better way. Therefore, we have made a commitment to help each other with and through the cravings by developing new habits and new taste buds for healthier snack foods. Together we have developed a plan to be upfront with each other about our cravings and try to replace those cravings with healthier options. For instance, now we are cooking turkey burgers with wheat buns at home, we have purchased sugar free cookies (we must watch out for the fat content in these products), we have found delight in sugar free popsicles, and have found a friend in angel food cake with fresh strawberries!

It is the month of love, the time to rekindle, restore, remind, and repair any infractions that we have committed under the stress of managing our type 2 diabetes with our partners. It is possible through promise, commitment, clear communication, trust, and exploring new and delicious food options. It is definitely worth it, for the sake of our collective A1C results and our overall well-being, and to keep the complications away. I am determined to be a better partner in managing our type 2 diabetes.

Got it Sugar?


Read more of Kalimah Johnson's columns, Get it Together, Sugar, here.


dLife's Viewpoints columnists are not all medical experts, but everyday people living with diabetes and sharing their personal experiences, most often at a set point in time. While their method of diabetes management may work for them, everyone is different. Please consult with your diabetes care team before acting on anything you read here to find out what will work best for you.

Last Modified Date: June 10, 2013

All content on dLife.com is created and reviewed in compliance with our editorial policy.

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