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Diabetes: Coping With Your Feelings About Your Diet

What is an Actionset?

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.

Feelings can be positive or negative. Feelings affect how we think and behave. Dealing with a negative feeling means:

  • Recognizing it. Name the feeling, whether it is anger, sadness, resentment, fear, or something else. For instance, some pregnant women are afraid that their baby might be harmed by diabetes.
  • Accepting it. Feelings are not right or wrong. You are not a "bad" person because you have certain feelings. It is what you do with your feelings that matters.
  • Letting go of it. After you have named and accepted your feeling, you can release its hold on you.

Test Your Knowledge

There are no right or wrong feelings, and you are not a "bad" person for having negative feelings.


Recognizing anger and resentment toward the diet for diabetes is the first step in dealing with those feelings.


Negative feelings can get in the way of your ability to learn about and follow your diet that is very important for keeping your blood sugar level within your target range.

  • Feeling deprived of your favorite foods may cause you to eat more of those foods, resulting in high blood sugar levels.
  • Feeling afraid of complications from diabetes may cause you to eat too little food, resulting in low blood sugar emergencies.
  • Feeling angry or resentful about having to follow a special diet may cause you to resist learning about the diet, which will affect your ability to carry out your treatment.

Test Your Knowledge

Negative feelings do not interfere with your ability to follow a balanced diet.


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, fill in the four lists of foods on the food list cardClick here to view a form.(What is a PDF document?).
  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 the feelings diaryClick here to view a form.(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. Complete the section of the feelings diary about 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.

Test Your Knowledge

Complete the following sentence.

To deal with your negative feelings, you need to:

Just forget about your feelings.
Eat only foods on your "dislike" list.
Accept your feelings.
Talk yourself out of eating "bad" foods.

Now that you have read this information, you may be ready to deal with your negative feelings about a diet for diabetes. You know that positive feelings about yourself and your diet can also help motivate you to stay on your diet for diabetes.

Talk with your diabetes specialist (doctor, registered dietitian, or certified diabetes educator).

If you have questions or have identified areas that you need help with, review them when you visit your diabetes specialist.

If you would like more information on dealing with your feelings about diabetes, the following resources are available:


Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
120 South Riverside Plaza
Suite 2000
Chicago, IL 60606-6995
Phone: 1-800-877-0877
Email: [email protected]
Web Address:

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics sets standards for all types of prescribed diets. The organization produces a variety of consumer information, including videos. This group will help you find a registered dietitian in your area who provides nutrition counseling.

American Diabetes Association (ADA)
1701 North Beauregard Street
Alexandria, VA 22311
Phone: 1-800-DIABETES (1-800-342-2383)
Email: [email protected]
Web Address:

The American Diabetes Association (ADA) is a national organization for health professionals and consumers. Almost every state has a local office. ADA sets the standards for the care of people with diabetes. Its focus is on research for the prevention and treatment of all types of diabetes. ADA provides patient and professional education mainly through its publications, which include the monthly magazine Diabetes Forecast, books, brochures, cookbooks and meal planning guides, and pamphlets. ADA also provides information for parents about caring for a child with diabetes.

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ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerE. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerRhonda O'Brien, MS, RD, CDE - Certified Diabetes Educator
Last RevisedOctober 24, 2012

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