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5 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,” says Fredette.

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

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