Why should I follow the diabetic diet and exercise plan?

It will help keep the diabetic doing it. But that's not the main reason. The main reason is it will maintain your own good health. There's nothing peculiar about the diabetic lifestyle. It's what we all should be doing. If you read the recommendations for good health from the Department of Agriculture and Department of Health and Human Services, or the American Heart Association, you'll see they're nothing more than the well balanced meals with fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, no concentrated sweets, and reduced fats recommended for diabetics. The diabetes exercise program, too regular amounts of aerobic exercise is exactly what everyone should be doing, according to all fitness experts.

Actually, having a diabetic in your life or home is a tremendous boon. It wakes the entire family up to the best way of living and gives them an incentive for doing it. It's particularly valuable when there are nondiabetic children in the family. If a sister or brother or parent has diabetes and the house is therefore bereft ofjunk food, they're going to develop healthy eating habits that will stay with them all through life.

Then, too, if any of the nondiabetics have the genetic gun loaded with a diabetic tendency, leading the diabetic lifestyle may well keep the trigger from ever being pulled. And here's what may be the most effective inducement: If you have a diabetic spouse and he or she follows the diet and exercise program and you don't, you won't be able to measure up to your youthfully lean and vital counterpart. This can be bad for the dynamics of the marriage, to say nothing of your ego.

We feel compelled to warn you, however, of a built in hazard when you're a nondiabetic in the company of a diabetic. That hazard is the old slip twixt the cup (and the fork and the spoon) and the lip. In other words, although you know better, you are constantly tempted to eat for two, and, alas, you often succumb to that temptation.

Here's how it works. The well behaved diabetic is eyemeasuring his or her food at a meal and eating right on the diet. You're doing pretty much the same, or maybe you're eating a little more, because after all you don't have to be all that careful with your measurements.

Then it turns out there are leftovers. They'll never be so tasty again. In fact, it would be foolish to try to keep them. And you don't want to waste all that good food. Think of the starving people around the world. So . . . down the hatch. A few hours pass and if the diabetic takes insulin it's time for a snack because he or she has to have small amounts of food at regular intervals to feed the insulin. As long as the diabetic is munching you figure you might as well be companionable and munch along. Your snack which, again, doesn't have to be so carefully measured goes down the hatch.

Dining out is even more tempting and hazardous. Perhaps there's a bottle of wine and the diabetic permits him or herself one three ounce glass. Somebody has to drink the rest. It cost a lot of money. You can't send it back, and they don't have doggie bags for liquids. Down the hatch.

Maybe there's a really fantastic dessert selection and the dessert comes with the meal. The diabetic prudently says no. Two desserts go down the hatch.

When you and the diabetic are at a friend's home for dinner, your eating for two becomes almost a social necessity. The hostess has worked so very hard on hors d'oeuvres and exotic concoctions especially exotic dessert concoctions that she's going to be wounded right down to the bottom of her saucepan if someone doesn't lap up with gusto everything in sight and ask for more. The diabetic can't. It's up to you. Down the hatch. If this keeps up, before too long that hatch of yours is going to be attached to a tub, a tub that is in imminent danger of sinking. This is especially true if the diabetic in your life is a relative, such as a sister or brother, with whom you share the same heredity. In this case, with your eating for two you could chomp your way into Diabetesland.

You have been warned. If you don't want that long and healthy life insurance policy the diabetic has provided for you canceled, you have to pay the premium. That premium is to exert the same self-control as the diabetic and eat for only one. Then close down the hatch.


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