Stop Blaming Yourself for Having Diabetes


Ward Alper is a type 2 diabetic and chef who lives and eats decadently in Portland, Maine. Since his diagnosis more than four years ago, he has refocused his recipes and eating to support his diabetic health. In this article, Ward challenges all diabetics to celebrate rather than berate themselves.

Whether you are type 1 or type 2, YOU are NOT the cause of your diabetes; it is your body and how it works – or doesn’t work. YOU did NOT make it happen, and you CAN manage it if you choose to.

I very often look in at the American Diabetes Association community boards and see comments from other people with diabetes about their numbers. What I see far too much of are people saying:

My original A1C was 19.9 and it is now 6.0. I eat 1 gram of carbohydrates a week and exercise 12 hours a day, but my BS readings last week were such and such, and other people’s A1C numbers are less. I know mine isn’t too bad, but why are my numbers not as good as John A’s or Mary B’s numbers? I know that I was traveling or at a party or at work extra hours and not eating as well as I should.

It reminds me of the line from Mart Crowley’s ground breaking play, The Boys in the Band. Toward the end of the play, one of the characters muses, “If we could just stop hating ourselves so much.”

Having Diabetes Is Not Your Fault

Perhaps too many of us, especially those with type 2 diabetes, feel that we are to blame for being diabetic. If we ate too much of this or too little of that or did not exercise enough, we were what? BAD? Time to get over it! Now would be good! If you think that you are a diabetic because you ate too many candy bars for too many years, remember that your pal, Paul, ate them right alongside you, and Paul is not a diabetic.

Here are these diabetics who have done so well and come so far, yet they are beating themselves over the heads with an emotional bat. Rather than reaching over and patting ourselves on the back, rather than celebrating what we have achieved, we don’t seem to be able to allow ourselves to congratulate ourselves on our achievements. I have to wonder why so many of us cannot celebrate rather than berate ourselves. We need to see the possibilities and the positive challenges around us.

Love Yourself and Live a Healthy Life

I have made my life with diabetes fun again. I eat like a Diabetic King. Every one of us can do the same. I am lucky in that I love to cook and find new dishes to please my palate. If you hate to cook, there are dozens of sites with recipes that will help you along the way. Everybody and every body reacts differently. So, go ahead, blame your body. But don’t forget to love yourself.

It is hard for all of us and for each of us in a different way to live a healthier life with diabetes. It takes a huge amount of work sometimes to control our disease. I’m thinking it is time for us to sit back, be proud of what we have done for ourselves and our families, be clear about what we will do and stop, breathe, and CELEBRATE our best accomplishments – and do a little laughing, just for the good health of it!

Enjoy, be happy, be Healthy, be DECADENT!

Click here for Ward's Almost Mac and Cheese recipe!

Get more nutrition tips and recipe ideas from Ward Alper, the Decadent Diabetic, on his website.

Photo credit: Angelo González