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Your feelings about food and diabetes

Without even realising, you might be an emotional or mindless eater. And when you have diabetes, this can affect your mood and affect you physically too.

This could be eating when you are not hungry as a way to relieve feelings of stress, sadness or even boredom. This can often be a bar of chocolate or an extra piece of cake. But eating in this way can have an impact on your emotional wellbeing and your diabetes.

Here we explain how to deal with negative feelings about your diet when you have diabetes. We also have advice on how to manage diabetes whilst staying at home, including continuing a healthy diet and staying active. 

The link between food and feelings when you have diabetes

There are many ways that food can affect how we feel, just as how we feel can have an influence on what we choose to eat. And knowing what and when to eat can be difficult when you have diabetes.

You might be feeling overwhelmed about what you should be eating which can often lead to eating too much of the wrong types of food. We’re not saying that you can never eat unhealthy food, but you should aim to eat it in moderation and to follow a healthy, balanced diet.

Some people with diabetes need to eat regularly to help prevent blood glucose levels dropping. Hypos can be dangerous if not treated quickly. Choosing foods that release energy slowly will help keep your sugar levels steady and also keep you feeling full for longer. High blood sugar levels can also impact your mood – you may feel irritable, angry, grumpy or lethargic. 

How to cope with negative thoughts about diet and diabetes

Here are some tips on how to recognise negative feelings about food and how to deal with them. Recognising what you're feeling and why could help you to cope with your diabetes.

Diabetes and emotional eating

Diabetes is often a cause of stress or depression. Having to pay close to attention to what you eat and having lots of new things to learn and remember can feel tough. Feeling stressed or depressed could be a root cause of emotional eating.

If you find yourself eating foods such as chocolate as a way to relieve emotions, you should try to replace it with something else. How about watching your favourite TV programme or visiting a friend?

We have advice on tackling stress and depression when you have diabetes.

Diabetes and mindless eating

Eating should be enjoyed, but when we eat mindlessly, we often don’t take the time to appreciate what we’re eating. This is about trying to change the reason you eat.

Before reaching for the biscuit tin you should ask yourself ‘am I actually hungry?’. A lot of the time, you won’t be and removing yourself from the kitchen can help to avoid this kind of eating habit. Eating pointless calories, with no nutritional benefits, is not good for your diabetes management or your general good health.

We have plenty of tips on how to avoid eating when you're not hungry.

Start a food and mood diary

If you’re worried that the food you’re eating is affecting your emotional health or mood, you can download My Food and Mood Diary (PDF, 36KB).

This is a great way to track what food you’ve eaten and the effect it could be having on your mood and your diabetes. 

There are also courses that you can attend to help you understand your diabetes, make healthier food choices and take control.

More on food and feelings when you have diabetes

We have a whole host of information to help you tackle habits and behaviors that you have built up over the years. We can help you get on the road to a healthier lifestyle and better management of your diabetes:

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