6 Ways to Support a Spouse With Diabetes
Experts and people who've been there offer tips on how to support a partner with diabetes -- without nagging.
Diabetes Support Tip No. 2: Adopt Healthy Habits for the Whole Household
Weiss started paying more attention to portion control and healthier meals.
The whole family started to eat what Michael ate so that he wouldn't feel
different. Weiss also bought diabetes cookbooks to support their new way of
Diabetes cooking classes can be helpful, too. But for some families, these
steps aren't practical, Funnell says.
''Everybody wants cookbooks, but in reality, most people cook the same seven
meals over and over again,'' she says. In that case, a dietitian can give
advice on how to adapt familiar recipes into healthier versions. He or she can
also teach about proper serving sizes.
Tony Price, an American Diabetes Association spokesman in California who has
type 1 diabetes, says his wife, Connie Cox Price, helps him to count
carbohydrates at restaurants. She also scours the menu for hidden ingredients,
such as plum sauce in Chinese food, that can raise glucose levels. ''Those
things just sneak up on you,'' she says.
Another tip: Don't tempt your spouse with forbidden foods, Funnell says.
''Don't sit there and eat three gallons of ice cream in front of them and yell
at them for eating the same thing.''
Don't even bring junk food into the home, Weiss adds.
Diabetes Support Tip No. 3: Help Make Time for Exercise
''One of the biggest issues about exercise is time,'' Funnell says. ''To nag
somebody to exercise --but not offer to do those things that free them up to
exercise -- doesn't work.''
A husband whose wife has diabetes can help her to carve out exercise time by
running extra errands, watching the children, or picking them up from day care
so she can hit the gym after work. Or he could offer to exercise with her to
Or do what the Prices do: Make exercise a priority. On weekends, they
schedule it before any other events.
Diabetes Support Tip No. 4: Educate Yourself
Learn as much as you can about diabetes, Weiss says. Knowledge is crucial if
your spouse has severe hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, which can lead to
seizures, coma, or even death.
''It's very frightening for family members and often for the person with
diabetes,'' Funnell says. ''Know what to do because that helps you to stay less
panicked.'' Learn how to give glucose tablets, orange juice, or regular soda to
raise blood sugar.
When Weiss goes out with her husband, she keeps glucose tablets with her,
especially after he once passed out at a restaurant from hypoglycemia. Call 911
if a partner with diabetes loses consciousness, Funnell says.