So… a (diabetic) guy walks up to the (breakfast) bar. He grabs a plate and…
“You can’t have any of that,” his wife says, as he eyes the hash browns.
“No, Daddy,” his teenage daughter chimes in, as he reaches for a bagel.
He nods his head sheepishly, and scoops a couple of boiled eggs onto his plate, and tries not to stare at his daughter’s Belgian waffles (that can’t be chocolate sauce, can it?)
This poor guy got ambushed by the food police, those “helpful” family members and friend who seem to come out of nowhere and start barking orders. Has this ever happened to you? Or, maybe more to the point, has it happened to you yet this week?
There are people in your life who are going to have some extra concern about how well you are taking care of yourself. After all, they love you!
The problem is, they may also feel they have a right – and duty – to jump in and manage your diet. And give you a good scolding, just for good measure.
Here are some steps you can take to handle the food police in your life:
First, put yourself in their shoes. The food police are people who care about you. They may be worried, especially if they have witnessed what happens when you have not followed your diet. Assume goodwill, even if it feels like control.
Let them know you appreciate their concern. Some reassurance that you acknowledge their concern and appreciate it can set the micromanager’s mind at ease (so they can return to their plate and take their attention off of yours). Something like, “I appreciate your concern. I know what my guidelines are and I’m following them.”
Set the worrier at ease. Think about who’s got the problem here. It may not be you. Keep in mind that one person’s expression of concern may be a way of requesting that you give them some reassurance. Don’t you wish people would be more direct about their needs? So how about adding: “No worries, okay?”
Offer some “patient” education. You don’t have to justify or explain yourself when you are simply trying to enjoy a meal. But if the other person is not familiar with your diet, they might benefit from some brief education about how the diabetic diet works. Family members who should know better might need a brief reminder. “I am still within my diet guidelines. As you remember…” Offer to answer any questions they might have.
Be gentle, but firm. There is a fine line between being watched and being made to feel disempowered. Set limits by letting people know that you are taking responsibility for your health, that you appreciate their concern, and that you will let them know if you need their help. “I am in charge of my diet. And I know what I’m doing. Believe me, I will ask you if I need some help.” A sense of humor can help: “The next time I am about to go on a pecan roll binge, I will be sure to call you.”
Repeat as needed. Some people may need to hear this more than once before it sinks in. Keep in mind that the people who care the most about you can also be a little flat-footed at times, but that they are acting out of love. Patience can go a long way here.
Take good care of yourself. Make sure you are following your diet. And let the food police go on off duty status!
This article was originally published on DiabeticConnect.com, an online patient community from Alliance Health Networks.