Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Diabetes Health Center

Font Size

4 Ways to Conquer Your Inner Critic With Diabetes

By Sara Reistad-Long
WebMD Feature

You know how to eat and exercise to stay healthy with diabetes. The problem is you don't always do what you know, right? It’s important to recognize the early signs of self-sabotage: procrastination, self-defeating behavior, fear, and perfectionism. If you do, you can redirect yourself long before you've done any harm.

Pummel Procrastination

Do you catch yourself saying things like, “I'll start tomorrow,” or “This one time won't hurt”? If so, you’re procrastinating, says Melissa Fredette, a licensed psychologist.

Get back in gear by reminding yourself what you really want. Maybe you want to talk with your doctor without feeling ashamed., or play soccer with your kids without feeling tired.  

When you recognize you're procrastinating, you can cut it off at the knees. Immediately do something healthy that is related to your goal. You might pick a healthy snack or take a short walk around your workplace. You'll feel better all the way around, and you'll be creating positive momentum.

Smack Down Self-Defeating Behaviors

If you catch yourself overeating or slacking on exercise goals, something else might be going on. “You’re most likely feeling overwhelmed by the challenges of your situation,” says psychiatrist Sonali Sharma, MD.

To keep yourself on track, first, identify the healthy behavior you’re about to sabotage (like overeating carbs). Next, find a way to make a healthier choice that feels more agreeable to you.

Let's say you’re about to order a coffee drink with cream and sugar when you know you need to limit both. One option could be to get half the amount of sugar and cream. Or, just drink half the latte. This way you aren’t depriving yourself, but you’re also keeping your behavior in check.

The key is compromise. If you deprive yourself, you’re more likely to fall off the wagon completely.

Conquer Fear

Nagging doubts about your health are more serious than a single moment of pessimism. And, if they go on unrecognized, those doubts can get in the way of action.

“Next time you start to doubt yourself, acknowledge your fears and how they are holding you back from acting positively,” Fredette says.

Then, reach out to someone you know will be supportive. A simple text or phone call distracts you from those negative feelings. Talking with friends can also reinforce your resolve.

Another tactic is positive self-talk. At the end of the day (or in a particularly bad moment) remind yourself of recent accomplishments -- then give yourself a pat on the back. All you need is to remove your focus long enough for your fear to fade.

Pooh-Pooh Perfectionism

Get frustrated for not meeting your goals better or faster? If so, you’re letting perfectionism get the upper hand.

This doesn’t always lead to slip-ups in the moment. But over time, it can contribute to self-sabotaging behaviors.

The best strategy, says a team of experts at the Joslin Diabetes Center, is to make long-term goals so realistic and reachable that the notion of failure is erased. This means not trying to bite off everything at once. Plus, you'll practice patience and persistence.

Work with your health care team to map out a step-by-step plan of small, attainable goals. Once a step feels like second nature, move to the next. You’ll be surprised at how quickly the successes build.

Reviewed on November 06, 2013

Is This Normal? Get the Facts Fast!

Check Your Blood Sugar Level Now
What type of diabetes do you have?
Your gender:

Get the latest Diabetes newsletter delivered to your inbox!


Your level is currently

If the level is below 70 or you are experiencing symptoms such as shaking, sweating or difficulty thinking, you will need to raise the number immediately. A quick solution is to eat a few pieces of hard candy or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey. Recheck your numbers again in 15 minutes to see if the number has gone up. If not, repeat the steps above or call your doctor.

People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.

Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.

However, it's important to continue to track your numbers so that you can make lifestyle changes if needed. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.

Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.

One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Did You Know Your Lifestyle Choices
Affect Your Blood Sugar?

Use the Blood Glucose Tracker to monitor
how well you manage your blood sugar over time.

Get Started

This tool is not intended for women who are pregnant.

Start Over

Step:  of 

Today on WebMD

Diabetic tools
Symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and more.
woman flexing muscles
10 strength training exercises.
Blood sugar test
12 practical tips.
Tom Hanks
Stars living with type 1 or type 2.
Woman serving fast food from window
Can Vinegar Treat Diabetes
Middle aged person
are battery operated toothbrushes really better

Prediabetes How to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
type 2 diabetes
food fitness planner
Are You at Risk for Dupuytrens Contracture