Diabetes: Coping With Your Feelings About Your Diet

Discusses dealing with negative feelings that can interfere with your ability to follow your diet for diabetes. Provides ways to deal with negative feelings about your diet. Includes links to more info on type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

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Diabetes: Coping With Your Feelings About Your Diet


Our emotions influence what we eat, when we eat, and how much we eat. So negative feelings can interfere with your ability to follow your diet for diabetes.

  • If you feel that certain foods, such as chocolate cake, are “bad,” you may feel guilty after eating a piece.
  • If you are angry because you think you can’t eat the foods you like, you may feel resentful.
  • If you are afraid that you may gain weight or develop other problems, you may not eat enough food.

After you accept your negative feelings about diabetes and your diet, you will be more likely to let go of these feelings. Then you can more easily learn and successfully follow a healthy diet.

Your feelings can also help you follow your diet for diabetes. If you feel like you are doing something good for your health, you may feel motivated. Then you may feel even better about your diet and yourself.

To deal with your feelings effectively:

  • Learn about your diet for diabetes. You will be surprised to learn that you can have all the types of foods you like. All you need to do is fit them into your meal or snack plan.
  • Talk with other people who successfully follow the diet for diabetes. Find out what foods they like and how they have worked them into their meals.
  • Try new foods and new recipes to put some variety into your meals so you will not feel deprived.

How to deal with negative feelings about your diet for diabetes

Give yourself permission

People often think that following a diet for diabetes means giving up foods they like and having to eat foods they don’t like. If you think a diet for diabetes means you can’t eat any of the foods you like, try the following exercise:

  1. As completely as you can, make a food list card( What is a PDF document? ). Write down foods that you like and dislike, and foods that are “bad” and “good” for diabetes.
  2. Examine your lists. Is your “bad for me” list very similar to your “foods I like” list? Is your “good for me” list similar to your “foods I dislike” list? If you think a diet for diabetes has only foods you don’t like, consider this.
    • There are no “good” or “bad” foods. All foods can fit into a diet for diabetes.
    • You don’t have to give up the foods you like. You can learn how to fit them into a balanced diet.
  3. Cross out the foods in the “foods I dislike” list. You don’t have to eat them. You can eat any of the foods in the other three lists. You may need to eat some of the foods (high-sugar foods) in the “foods I like” list in smaller amounts and less frequently to prevent high blood sugar.

Recognize your feelings

From the list below, check all the feelings you have about a diet for diabetes. Add any other negative feelings you have about following the diet.

  • ___ Confused
  • ___ Afraid
  • ___ Angry
  • ___ Deprived or resentful
  • ___ Resistant
  • ___ Other___________________________________

Identify what you may be afraid of, angry about, or resistant to in a feelings diary( What is a PDF document? ).

Don’t judge yourself by your feelings. It is what you do with them that matters.

Let go of your negative feelings

Just identifying why you have a negative feeling is not enough to rid you of it—you will need to do something to let go of it. Record in your feelings diary how you plan to deal with each negative feeling.

You can let go of negative feelings by:

  • Writing about what you feel and reading aloud to yourself what you have written.
  • Talking with your family, a friend, or your diabetes specialist. You may learn that your negative feeling is based on something that is not true.
  • Joining a diabetes support group. Most people with diabetes have had negative feelings and are willing to share how they dealt with those feelings. Call your local affiliate of the American Diabetes Association to find support groups in your area.
  • Getting counseling. If a feeling continues to get in your way of taking care of yourself, talk with a health professional about counseling.


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