Depression and Diabetes-Compatible Eating

Diabetes depression.jpg

All too often when I am looking in at comments here on Diabetes Support, I see ones like this:

“I have type 2 diabetes. I am depressed because it's such a life change. How do I cope with this depression?”

When I see these comments I feel obligated to respond:

“YOU are not ALONE. I think most of us felt depressed at the beginning. Day by day I bet you find it gets easier. In my case, I made it a challenge and am now healthier than before the DX. And....I eat like a king! -w!”

What surprised me was the response I got:

“Not being alone, doesn't help. I don't feel better because OTHER people have diabetes. It is NOT easier day by day. In fact it's worse. The longer I have to eat this way, the more miserable I am. I just want to be "normal" again.”

That set me back on my heels. It wasn’t that the responder missed my point entirely. I was supporting the reader by telling them that they were NOT alone in their feeling of depression not in having diabetes. I know that I felt that way as have many others. Before I learned what to do, I too felt helpless and yes…depressed. I did not intend for the reader to take it as not being alone because they had diabetes, all you have to do is look at the un-ending string of ads for diabetes medications on the evening news to know you are not alone.

The truth is that the person I responded to is (as far as I know) not a reader of my work. They certainly are not looking at many of my recipes. But WHAT are they eating? What has changed for them so much that they feel so depressed and hopeless?

I truly get it. When I was first diagnosed I “thought” I could NEVER have this food or that food EVER again. Then I met with a dietician/nutritionist from my local “stupidmarket” and discovered a world of food that allowed me to eat “normally” again. I know I talk over and over and over again about finding a lower carbohydrate flat bread and turning the tin of tuna or slab of turkey on my plate into a “normal” sandwich. But I was also reminded that most of the foods I already ate were still available to me… us. All of the proteins (meats, chicken, ugh fish (?) cheeses, eggs, etc.) are still part of our table. So are most of the vegetables and many of the fruits. Bananas, oranges, mangoes might not be great choices, but berries and many others are. How many mangoes did I eat in a year before I was diagnosed?

I share with you recipes (ideas) to expand what you have available. Sure, you have to limit some things, but only the sky is the limit on others. If he/she were reading here it would be clear that I share with you the most positive outlook on having diabetes that I can. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think it is all fun and games. From personal experience and experiences shared with me by some of my readers, I do know that it can get better and easier. It certainly did for me and for them.

The person that made the original comment is right. It is a big load to shoulder when the person in the white coat shakes their head and hands you the diagnosis. Lots of us shared that horrible sinking feeling that what they knew and how they lived had suddenly come crashing down around their ankles.

Thanks to your responses, I know that some of you are stronger, happier, and healthier since taking control of your diabetes.

Rather than being depressed, I took the approach that there are ways to still eat wonderfully. There were foods that I was not allowed to eat as a kid and I found others to take the place of the FORBIDDEN food. There are other foods that might not be great choices for me like corned beef (because of the sodium) but once a year I still make corned beef and cabbage. But the truth is that I only made it once a year before. If I didn’t feel depressed and deprived then…how can I feel that way now?

Best of all, in taking control of my diabetes, I am also able to assist others in taking some control of their diabetes.

You may have noticed that I seem to be unrelentingly positive about being able to manage MY diabetes. (Is that perhaps why I am able to manage my diabetes so well?) It is the choice that I made. I chose not to be down and depressed because I have LEARNED that eating with diabetes can STILL be wonderful. I truly hope that the depressed reader will get to where I am, and many of you are, today.

Some things will never change for them or for me. I now live in the Southwest. Spring for me was the scent of lilacs and the blues of Iris. I can still grow Iris here but lilacs don’t grow well here. Vitex does. I planted Vitex trees. They bloom longer than lilacs and smell different but wonderful.

Another choice that I make is NOT to give out medical advice. Hey, I am not qualified to do that. Clearly, though, that upset commenter is having more difficulty than they should and perhaps needs to seek some professional advice about how and what they can still eat. After that, I am their man for suggestions on how to make what you can eat… decadently delicious.

As for it getting better, I have just revised one of my favorite recipes. I have made it slightly lower in carbohydrates but more flavorful. It got better!

ENJOY!!! Be happy, be healthy, and BE DECADENT! –w

Source: Ward Alper, The Decadent Diabetic