How can I help motivate my husband?

My DH has had type one for about 10 years now. He has really struggled the whole time and his lowest A1C was 8.9. It is cause for celebration if his A1C is in the single digits.

I desperately want him to live a more healthy life. He does want to get his diabetes under control but it seems like he quickly runs out of steam. He will do well for awhile, then as soon as things get busy at work, or he has any stress, he is back to high after high after high. Of course, life will always have stress and things will always get busy at work. I want to help him succeed even under these circumstances.

I love him so much and really want to live a long, healthy, happy life with him. I do worry that he doesn’t have a very long life expectancy if he continues in this vein. We have two small boys who need their daddy.

I feel like I’ve tried it all. I’ve left him alone, I’ve encouraged, I’ve nagged, I’ve pleaded, I’ve talked and talked to him, I’ve gone to countless appointments with him, I’ve left out articles for him to read, I’ve suggested that he join support groups, etc. I know that in the end it is all up to him. It is very hard to have our lives so impacted, and to be powerless to do anything about it.

I truly want to help him. I know that he wants to live a healthy live, and I know it is a stuggle for him. He is very much a comfort eater and says that in the moment, nothing matters but eating what he wants to eat even though he regrets it later.

Help me out, diabetics! I would love some suggestions of how I can help him. I love this man so much and I need him to be healthy and stick around for many years to come.

Cason , I hope this helps somewhat …are you the shopper in the household ? then : do not grocery shop for items, which you know when hubby consumes these , will elevate blood sugars such as boxed cereals , icecream ,cookies, potato chips , pop corn , pizza , fast foods, regular pop instead have nuts, cheese and whole some meals , including high fiber .
Are you able to join him on some daily walks ? You did not say if Hubby needs to loose some weight . One can still have good blood sugars and maybe needs to give himself more insulin ?? Does he test his blood often enough ? How many shots daily and does he include correction bolusses , when numbers out of range ?
Indeed it is Hubby , who is in charge and I hope , that he will get , to manage his diabetes. One day at the time .And celebrate the small steps .

First things first, thank you for reaching out to this community on behalf of him. It shows that you are a truly caring wife and supporter of him. Having a spouse reach into the unknown on behalf of you is not something that we find every day. So, thank you for that.

Second, I cannot promsie that my suggestions work and I’m sure some of it won’t even apply to your situation, but I’m going to offer what I know and hope that it helps.

  1. Please keep in mind that he is just as frustrated with his situation as you are. I would assume that he is a normally intellegent and responsible individual? As a person with Type 1 for 11 years, I can tell you that my mortality floats in the back of my mind on a constant ongoing basis. It is always there, breaking me down. I think about it every morning, every injection, every finger stick. And my heart is pumping so hard that it feels like it’s going to explode every single time I wait for the results of my last A1c from my Endo. I want to live healthy. I don’t want to have amputations or complications. I want to bear children and live forever with my fiancee. I try so hard and make the best decisions that I can (with what I know) and yet my A1c has never been under 7.5. Currently, I’m recovering from a 9.5 plateau and am at 8.5. It is extremely difficult to face your mortality on a mutiple times per day basis. Every time I inject or test my BG, I’m thinking “If I don’t do this, I will die.” So, please keep that in mind.

  2. I hit a slump of “I just don’t want to” every few months. I will be fine and act okay every day, until it’ll just hit me at some random moment. Maybe my syringe bent when I injected and it hurt and I got pissed. Maybe (when I was on the pump) my tubing clogged AGAIN and I got frustrated. Maybe I got a sickness, the flu, and my BG just WOULDN’T come down from the 200s no matter what I tried. I hit those slumps, though, burst into tears from the constant stress, and then my fiancee sits down beside me and says: “I know it’s hard.” That’s all that I need. For him to acknowledge that it’s really really hard to constantly be worrying about the effects of what you do on a normal day to day basis. In fairness, I also turn to him (when I’m feeling better) and tell him: “I know it’s hard to be married toa diabetic.” But, when I hit those slumps, him acknowledging my frustration and pain- him saying that he knows that I’m TRYING really helps to pull me back out and get back on the “horse”.

  3. My fiancee will also go on splurges where he will pull out articles (like you said) and show them to me. Not necessarily reading them to me, but sometimes he will leave a magazine page (or an internet print out) open on the bed and I’ll see it. It helps to know that he cares. And when I know that he is researching things to help me, I know that it is bothering him as well, and then I get my act back together because I know that I’m not only fighting for my life, but for our life together as well. If I’m gone, his whole world will be turned upside down. But, he is never direct about his support. If he were to tell me: “I need you around”, then I would feel “put on the spot” and get defensive. His small acts give me time to ponder on my own and are subtle enough so that it doesnt feel like he is lecturing me.

  4. Try taking all of the sugary treats out of the house. If it’s an issue of him overeating, maybe having the stuff unavailable will help. I know that you have small children, but in honesty, if it’s an issue, having the stuff around the house isn’t good for them either.

  5. If it’s just a matter of him overeating on regular foods and then NOT injecting, then maybe it’s a different kind of issue. It could be a cry for help. Maybe he should speak to a human behavioral psychiatrist to find out where his anger or sadness is lying. Many type 1s seek counseling and it’s nothing to be ashamed of. I’ve sought help probably 5 times in the past 11 years and it helped me come to terms with my disease.

  6. Is he a first generation diabetic? Maybe he needs to talk to people who are also type 1 who will be able to understand him. He may buck at the idea at first, because I did too, but talking about my disease and my problems to ANYONE WHO WILL LISTEN has helped me immensely in the past 2 years since I started reaching out. I wouldn’t call it a “support group”, but essentially that’s what it is. TuD has been a great help to me.

  7. Please don’t guilt him into taking better care of himself. He feels guilty enough, I can mostly assure you. Most of the time when I get a high BG number or A1c, I am mentally beating myself up over it. Badly. I end up thinking very negative thoughts of myself and I hate myself and I punish myself mentally. It’s hard not to feel guilty when there is so much pressure put on us to have good numbers. But it’s really not so easy. Every single diabetic reacts to medicines differently. Every diabetic reacts to exercise, foods, dosages, stress, illness in an entirely different way. So, to get a cause and effect pinpointed is very difficult with this disease because we can in no way be generalized. Everything affects our BG levels, incluidng stress and the flu.

… I can’t really think of anything else, but I may later. You sound like you’re being very supportive. The only thing I can suggest is to give him subtle hints at your concern. Don’t pressure him and be very kind. Empathize if you’re not already. Without knowing him, I can’t really say what else it might be that’s holding him back.

I truly hope this helps.

Nel Peach: I am the shopper in the household and we don’t keep any crap in the house. I am having some trouble cooking wholesome meals for the family at the moment because of a temporary, strict diet that I have had to be on. That is ending, so I will be able to cook again. His biggest temptations are when he is out of the house. He goes to restaurants most days for lunch and is also tempted to stop on the way home for a bite, or Starbucks, or a milkshake.

He does tend to be conservative when he boluses because he hates going low and would rather be a bit high than run the risk of going low. He also struggles with remembering to bolus before he eats and occasionally forgets to bolus altogether until he starts to feel high. He is great at testing his blood sugar, and does it 6-10 times a day on average. He is on an insulin pump. He used to struggle with changing out his pump as soon as it ran out, but has had a lot more success with that recently. Sometimes it will be a few hours, but never more than that. I think he tends to be conservative in correction boluses. Food seems to be the greatest challenge as even if he boluses enough for a higher carb meal, his blood sugar will spike and remain high for awhile before getting back into the normal range.

I think a daily walk is a great suggestion! We love going on walks together. He could stand to lose a bit of weight and would really like to shed some pounds.

Marps: Thank you for your reply and suggestions. You are right, he is just as frustrated with this situation. I know that his frustration becomes and obsticle as well. At times he feels like he will never have good control so why even bother trying.

I certainly agree with your suggestion to not use guilt. I really don’t believe in using guilt and shame against someone or to motivate anyone to do anything. I think it breeds resentment.

He is a first gen diabetic and doesn’t have any diabetic friends. He has had some type 2 friends in the past, but honestly they weren’t terribly helpful. He would get so annoyed at them complaining about the super, major, scary high of 200 they had a week ago. I do think that he does find the diabetes magazines a little off-putting as well because of the focus on type 2’s and the ads that are directed to senior citizens (I hope that doesn’t offend any older folks here or type 2s!). Sadly he seems to feel that all other diabetics are doing great and he is the only one that is struggling this much and for this long.

Try to get him to stop eating lunch in restaurants. If he can’t pack his own lunch, pack one for him consisting of prepackaged items, like trail mix, string cheese, small salads and fruits. You can get small tins of tuna that are lunch size as well. Pack them all on Sunday. Besides cutting his carbs you’ll save a ton of money, too.

See if you can stop the sidetrips to Starbuck and or convenience stores also by providng snacks he can keep in the car - nuts most likely. Those milkshakes are BG killers, BTW, but you probably knew that. See if you can talk him into carrying a water bottle instead, although he probably gets the milshakes to fill himself up, not because he’s thirsty.

Also, ask him to visit here so he can find out for himself that he is NOT the only one struggling. He’s unique, of course, but he’s not alone. We all struggle with highs and losing control and fear of lows.


He’s fortunate to have a caring, wonderful wife. Very hard to be on the sidelines watching someone we love not taking care of themselves.

Can relate to hating the lows. Near impossible to explain how crappy these feel & there’s also fear of being unable to function at work, or in public. Lows have an immediate effect, but the long-term damaging effects of highs is something that can be pushed out of mind for “later.”

Easier said then done, but substituting better choices for the comfort food helps. Before being diagnosed, my comfort foods were the usual high carb ones. Never mind that I felt terrible after eating this way, that I was cranky & fell asleep after my carb-outs. The more carbs you eat, the more you want. I found many low carb alternatives to my former foods. Eating enough protein curbed my hunger & soon the carb cravings went away.

I love muffins, cookies & pies. I found delicious low carb recipes using almond flour & coconut flour that are healthy & taste great. The trick is not to feel deprived so you don’t want the “forbidden” food even more.

Can relate to the milkshake jones. Here’s one that I bet he’ll love. It’s filling & super low carb. Put one or two scoops of unflavored whey isolate protein powder in a blender (or jar with a lid to shake it up), 1.5 cups of unsweetened almond milk (available at supermarkets), 1-2 TBS unsweetened cocoa powder & some sweetener (I use no-carb stevia). It’s thick & yummy. The protein will keep him from being hungry. Any flavoring will work, but I happen to love chocolate.

It will help if he eats a high protein breakfast so he’s not starved by lunch. Starting out the day with a high carb meal is asking for trouble at lunch.

Eating lower carb means less insulin, so perhaps this may help to alleviate some of the fear of lows & break the vicious cycle of eating too much & not injecting enough insulin.

Hope he’ll join TuD. No lack of Type 1s here.

Wow…I’m a 34 yo dad of 3 and while my A1Cs haven’t been quite as dramatic I too have the all or nothing attitude with my diet. I want to do well but seem incapable of doing so for more than a week at a time. Once my BG goes above 300 for a length of time I get off carbs and get it back down. My wife expresses similar frustration. I imagine this is not much help except to know that you are not alone. Guys often have this type of attitude and I can’t explain why. I will say that joining this group has helped me a lot and maybe he would consider doing so.


I’m sorry your husband is having a hard time. Do you think he would be interested in joining a support group for Type 1’s? Or even joining TuDiabetes? It is a lot easier to deal with this disease when you know there are other people out there like you, struggling every day to keep the numbers down. Diabetes is a lot of work, but it is worth it to feel good and live a long and healthy life. Maybe you could see if putting a picture of your boys in his wallet would help remind him to stay healthy when he goes to buy the milk shakes? Little reminders may help create healthy habits.


You’ve already received wonderful support and ideas from others here so I wanted to share my own experience as a Type 1 in hopes that it may help.

I was diagnosed with diabetes at age 42, first with Type 2, then accurately as a late onset Type 1 two years later. Until about 1.5 years ago, my attitude and behaviors matched your husband’s very well.

What changed my mind? Two things. First, my loving, concerned boyfriend stopped nagging me about taking better care of myself. He went to appointments with me, tried to get me to go on walks with him, shared scary stories about his relatives who died of diabetes complications, etc. All of those well-meaning, loving things that he did caused an “up yours” reaction from me (pardon the language). HE didn’t know what it was like. HE didn’t have to deal with it every second of every day. HE wasn’t going to scare me into “compliance”, etc. When he stopped, I was forced to deal with my own behavior on my own. Although his intentions were wonderful, the effect of what he was doing was the opposite of what he hoped. I think he was “helping” me the way he would feel “helped” himself. Just as in many other aspects of diabetes, one size does NOT fit all. :slight_smile:

Second, I went on a pump (OmniPod) and in the process found a terrific diabetes educator who specializes in pumps. She understands how much effort it takes to do a good job of self-care every single day and wraps her suggestions around how my life works. She makes informed suggestions and supports me every step of the way. I don’t feel like a failure if my A1c is high because she’s part of the team who helps me find ways to lower it. I can call or e-mail her any time. She always understands and absolutely never makes me feel as if I’ve been “bad.” That support from a highly educated person who “gets it” has been irreplaceable for me. Talking with others here on Tudiabetes and in “real life” helps, too, but only when the discussions are non-judgmental.

Honestly, no one else could have motivated me. I had to figure it out on my own, all the while being very aware of how high blood glucose can shorten my life. As someone else said, lows are scary immediately but highs aren’t scary until complications surface. For me, if there were a more immediate negative reaction to highs, I’d have fewer of them. Now I’m not afraid of lows because I’ve experienced more of them and have plans in place for when they happen. I have a key fob that holds four glucose tablets that goes everywhere I do. I have three people “on call” in case I’m having a low while I’m alone. I keep a juice box on my nightstand in case I go low during the night.

I hope that helps. I sure don’t mean to criticize you in any way! I’m simply sharing my own experience in the hope that some of it may help you.


I’ll try to make this quick. I’m diabetic since 1984.

  1. See if he will set a goal to have his blood sugars within a good range before bedtime and when he gets up. He can check before dinner and then should be able to get it down to a reasonable level before he goes to sleep. You don’t sleep as well when your sugars are high.
  2. If you can afford it, ask him if he had ever thought of a continuous glucose monitor. That would help him catch the highs or lows before the glucose meter doesn’t register anymore.
  3. Consider buying the book “Think Like a Pancreas”. It is written by a CDE (Certified Diabetes Educator) who is type 1 diabetic. It talks about how it is impossible to be perfect with diabetes. Doctors are trying to help, but they tell you to be perfect. They don’t say “strive for perfection”. It is super overwhelming to feel like you are a failure. This book changed my life. You can get it at
  4. Also, maybe you could find a video from 1 happy diabetic on youtube or, and play it when he is around, or show it to him. At the end of most of his videos, he says “You can be one happy diabetic, too. It’s all about your attitude.” I repeat that to myself frequently to self motivate.
  5. Websites like this will also let him know that there are other type 1 diabetics out there who have issues. I am an emotional eater. Some stress makes me eat everything in sight, and other stress makes me not want to eat anything. When I am high I eat more. When I am low I don’t want to eat anything.

My numbering was off. No. 4 I meant to say I want to eat when I am high, but I cant.

I have been to support groups, and frankly they depress me because everyone there has problems. Sites like this are more fun, more educational, less depressing and you can be as anonymous as you want to be.

Also, if he gets motivated to control blood sugar, he will have lows at night, so make sure you have glucagon and you aren’t afraid to use it. I keep Capri Sun or a juice box on the night stand if I get too low during the night. If I get too low, someone has to put the straw in for me, though. If I am semi-conscious, I can suck the juice.

Not sure if any of these things will motivate your husband, but good luck. We are here for you.

Is there a way you can find someone who is diabetic around your area? Maybe find someone who seems to be stable, but ask your husband some questions about diabetes so that you can “help” the other diabetic. That way, your husband will feel of use and helpful and it will force him to reflect on his own diabetes care. Then, when he’s ready, he can meet that other type 1 and see that he is not alone and that we all struggle.

I hid my disease for many many years and didnt really come to grips with it until a few years ago. I would inject and do what I HAD to do, but over the past few years, I’ve really opened up about it and I will talk to anyone who asks. But, I didnt start to open up about it until I decided I was tired fo feeling sick. Then, I found TuD and a whole new world of diabetic friends who understood (for the most part) what I was going through. I felt good about myself when I was helping other diabetics. And when I felt good about myself, I would take better care of my body, therefore taking better diabetes care.

I am also a first gen diabetic and I had a lot of resentment toward my family and friends because it is something that is completely devestating and earthshattering. I was completely alone in the disease because there was literally no one else around me who had type 1. And I refused to go to a support group.

At one point, though, my mother had me volunteer at a children’s medical center and explain to kids what diabetes was and how to take care of yourself. Once I saw those little guys injecting and looking at me with those innocent eyes, my world of hell didn’t really matter anymore. I just wanted to help them and to prove to them that type 1 is not the end of the world and that we can live a great life, even with the disease.

Over the past 2 years, I’ve met 2 other type 1s. (I was also a bit resentful of type 2s until a few months ago. I just “let it go”) One type 1 I’ve met blind injects and doesn’t test his BG ever. He scares me, but he is my age and really reckless. The other type 1 is in his 40s and also blind injects. Sometimes he even forgets his basal.

Also, (I know I’m going to get “shot” over this) when I was on the pump, I had the ability to “shut off” my diabetes thoughts. It became so habitual that I wouldn’t even think about my bolusing and such anymore. Pumps are AMAZING, but for me, it was a great tool for me to ignore my diabetes. I’m doing much better on MDI. He might consider coming off the pump for a few months to get his focus back on his body.

I’m glad to hear that you don’t use guilt and that you understand his frustration as well. You really sound like a great lady and supportive wife. He should be proud to have you in his life. :slight_smile:

two words: booty embargo

j/k it’s up to him to do this. I applaud you for doing everything you can but he’s gotta committ to control his sugars. besides that I got nothing sorry except there’s a lot of good advice already given. good luck and take care

Dude!! You’re a traitor!!


it’s a surefire motivator :wink:

I don’t think my DH would like you very much, Joe! :wink:

Gonna make sure my husband doesn’t see this thread:)

I too have been very afraid of lows. Being on the pump is a good start. The CGM was kind of annoying for me in many ways, but also helped in terms of fears of lows because it has an alarm which beeps if you go too low or go down too fast. Gave me great comfort when my husband was out of town and I was fearful of not waking up at night when I had a low. Also, I check constantly 10-13 times a day so I can see which direction I am going. I struggle with my motivation too, although I do manage to keep my AIC below 6.5. When I feel like not dealing with my diabetes, I think of my two amazing kids, who need a mom, and that helps me keep going.

I completely second what everyone has said about the types of food in the house. For me it’s all about the food that comes in the house. If it is here I will eat it. I cook a lot so I have healthy, tasty, carb-controlled stuff on hand. It’s hard.

I think anxiety is a big issue like has been said earlier… I have been a diabetic for 19 years… and the fear is always something that keeps me from doing things like I should… Everyone in their lifetime needs someone to talk with and resolve these types of issues…It wouldn’t hurt to give it a try. I would also suggest he take a class on using his pump more effectively…especially the dual and square wave. Just using the pump more effectively has made a world of difference for me.