Thursday, 21 January 2010

Staying Positive & Resisting Food Envy

I know several of you struggle with keeping positive, and I can assure you that I do too sometimes. And really the best way that I know to keep thinking positively is to get some perspective.

When I was younger and sulky my mum always would remind me of how fortunate I am in comparison to other children...I can still walk, I can still see, I have a good brain, I have a lovely family, etc. This is by far the best way to keep a diabetic level headed.

It's only an illness if that's what you make it, you can't let it rule you. I'm never a diabetic, I just happen to have diabetes.

Another way I learnt to encourage myself is to make special versions of things. For example, healthy pancakes or dark chocolate mousse, which would make me feel super healthy and happy. Once you realise that the things you can't eat are bad for you anyway, I think it makes things a lot clearer.

I know that for a young child who wants to eat cake and cookies and stuff it can be hard, but I reckon if I were the parent of a diabetic I would try super hard to make sure that they never felt left out and always had their own more delicious looking food so they weren't tempted. Make them feel proud of their food too; not all kids will find a raspberry whole wheat muffin so tempting, until you put some dark chocolate chips in it and wrap it in a really posh muffin wrapper. That kind of thing will make it look posh and expensive without actually being so...and it'll make the child much more proud of their food. It's like the kids whose sandwiches are cut into triangles instead of rectangles; it just shows more love and thought has gone into the food - i was always jealous of the triangle sandwiches!

Also, it's important to keep just healthy food in the house, and make all the family eat the same low GI food as the diabetic. Giving them separate meals will just make them feel worse, I can assure you. It should be only when they can make the choice of eating something different that it's ok for them to have a separate plate...otherwise I would suggest all eating the same til then (and that'll probably be when they're 18 and leave home).

You need to encourage the healthiness of the food, and not negate it. And disguise meals too, make them look like regular meals, and don't mention that it's whole wheat or low GI until they're old enough to understand why that's important - and they're the ones to mention it.

Also, if it's an important event where there's special food, like a birthday or Christmas, then don't tell them they can't have something. Let them have a small sliver of birthday cake and make some low sugar mince pies. Let them feel a part of it, it's even more important on these occasions that they join in.

If it's you that's the diabetic, then you just need to be prepared for the consequences of your actions. I can quite happily not eat real pizza or real ice cream because I know how ill I feel afterwards. I am sensible when I'm at a buffet to choose lots of vegetable dishes and avoid the pastry things. And I know that choosing sensibly will have a huge effect on how long I remain healthy. It's important not to abuse your body, and eating healthily has a massive impact on your long term health as well as the short term.

If your child or you are feeling really depressed about diabetes, then it may just mean a change of doctor. My old doctor made me cry and feel like nothing I did would change the future of my health. But a soon as a I switched to a specialist doctor who understand A LOT more about how I was feeling and coping, I wanted to feel better and knew that all the effort I was making was actually making a difference to my health. I want to go to see the doctor knowing that I've done everything I can to keep myself well; so that they are proud of me.

If you are looking for some motivation then think of a couple of things, how you want to outlive your parents so that you can look after them when they are old instead of the other way around, and how you want to be a great parent when you are older and have enough energy for your kids. If it's your child that needs motivation, then short term motivation is probably better and you could also set up goals and targets with them. For instance if they can drop their average sugar level over a week or decrease their HbA1c level next time they go to the doctor, then you'll take them horse riding/swimming/cycling in the forest/berry picking. Let things not be motivated by food, but some healthy family activity!

I hope that helps some of you struggling parents out there and keeps you diabetics happy. My last thing to say is that, it's not realistic to be positive all the time, sometimes what you need is a really good cry before you can move on. Don't forget to get the perspective in your life and work hard towards a longer, healthier and happier life! Remember too that if you are looking after yourself you will naturally feel happier and more positive!

If you want some healthy recipes you can either check out my healthy eating blog Not Just Apples or go to the Enjoy Healthy Eating website, where there's plenty of nutritious recipes.