How to Build a Healthy Relationship with Diabetes


Editor’s Note: This piece originally appeared on Drew’s Daily Dose and is being shared with permission.

Does your disease get in the way of how you want to live your life? If it feels like a burden that affects your social life, professional life, or any other aspect of your life—then things are about to change.

Your relationship with diabetes should be no different from your relationship with someone you love. It should be built upon multiple key pillars. It’s time you treat your diabetes the same way you would treat your life partner.

You’ll always remember how you first met

We all have a different story about how we first found out we had diabetes but no matter what the circumstances were at the time, it should be a reminder about how lucky we are to be here today living, or even better, thriving with diabetes!

Use the memory of your diagnosis as a reminder to have…


It has already shown you how complex and potentially dangerous it can be, so make sure you show it the respect it deserves. Don’t do things that you know will upset it. For example, if you know that leaving a sink full of dirty dishes will lead to a fight with your partner, it would probably be wise, reasonable and respectful not to do that, right? Well, the same applies to diabetes. If there are things that make it upset or flare up for hours or even days—simply try to avoid them.

To really understand what makes it happy or upset you need to…

Get to know it

It would be naive to think that you know everything about your partner overnight. It takes time and effort. Get to know everything you can about diabetes. All of its different moods, quirks, trends and patterns.

If you know what makes it happy—do that more often.
If you know what upsets it—avoid that at all costs

If your diabetes feels like a stranger then perhaps you need…

Frequent and consistent communication

You wouldn’t go days without speaking to your partner so why would you do the same to your diabetes? Check your blood glucose levels frequently, detect trends and patterns and address the changes immediately. Don’t simply turn your back on it. It is irresponsible to think that out of sight is out of mind.

Most of the time it will listen and respond the way you want it to if you talk to it in the correct manner. The tone in which you speak to it needs to be gentle and respectful. Sometimes a whisper delivers a more effective message than if you were to yell it. In other words, it is about how we deliver these messages that make them effective.

“Your perception of your diabetes is a reflection of yourself.”

If you communicate poorly with it—expect a poor response. In saying that, there will be times when no matter how well you try to communicate, it just won’t respond the way you want it to.

At times like these, make sure you have…


There are good days and bad days. If today is bad, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it will be the same tomorrow or the next day, so be patient and keep doing all the right things until it begins to cooperate with you, because eventually, it will!

If you feel like your patience is fading, all you need to do is have…


At Drew’s Daily Dose there is a platform built upon 5 key pillars to ensure that you can live the happiest and healthiest life possible with diabetes. Put your trust in the reliability and stability of these pillars. There’s a reason that they’re the foundation of my successful management.

When you find trust, you will find pride, but until then…

Don’t hide it

In the same way that you wouldn’t hide your partner from those around you—you shouldn’t hide your diabetes. Take the time to introduce it to your friends, family and people close to you. They want to meet it and the more they get to know it, the better the group dynamic will be. Find pride in how you manage your diabetes and don’t be shy about letting people know about it. If you are embarrassed or ashamed to give injections or test your blood sugar levels in public, it’s time you start taking pride in your healthy relationship with diabetes.

At the end of the day, the more people that know about it, the easier it is to use…


You are on the same team! Diabetes is not your opponent or enemy. You are not fighting a battle against diabetes—you are thriving with diabetes!

Make sure you work together to find solutions to your problems, and always…

Listen to one another

If you are having trouble controlling your diabetes, you may not be listening to what it is saying. Your diabetes is telling you key messages all the time. Your insulin requirements and blood glucose control are key messages that your diabetes is happy or not. The proof is in the insulin pen and in the numbers of your blood glucose meter.

When diabetes doesn’t listen to you, you need to listen to it.
Give it what it requires when it will not accept what you require.

It will be easier to listen if you learn to…


I know that sounds ridiculous considering it is an autoimmune disease, but there are things to love about diabetes if you can accept them. If you’re going to be living with it forever, hating it will only lead to an unhealthy relationship. Find reasons to love it.

If you can’t love it then at the very least try your best to…

Accept the flaws

Diabetes is stupid (as are all autoimmune diseases for that matter). The mere fact that our immune system shuts down an organ in our own body seems pretty silly, doesn’t it?. Once we can accept that, it will help you to develop a healthy relationship. We all have our flaws, but if you focus on the opportunities that adversity can provide, you will surely make the most of life.

No matter how difficult it seems, always remember that you can regain…


Perhaps don’t apply this piece of relationship advice to your actual life-partner because it may build an unhealthy relationship, but when it comes to your diabetes—take control! There will be times when you feel completely out of control. During times like these, it is important that you keep going back to The 5 Pillars and eventually you will regain control.

The take-home message

If you can develop a healthy and respectful relationship with diabetes you will be able to manage it optimally and effortlessly. Remember, even when it seems like things are going badly—it’s only a phase. It will change if you work through it. It takes patience and trust in the system. If you do the right things it will listen and respond accordingly. When it doesn’t listen or respond how you might expect it to, think of reasons why it isn’t responding, think of what to do next as well as how it might respond, and finally take note when this happens so you know for next time.

  • healthy relationship doesn’t have to be a perfect relationship.
  • It is the way in which we perceive our diabetes that will ultimately lead to a healthy or unhealthy relationship.
  • Do not fear it—respect it.
  • Do not reject it—embrace and accept it.
  • Do not ignore it—get to know it.
  • Do not let it control you—control it.

That’s it for today’s Daily Dose. I hope this article has helped you to become more mindful of your relationship with diabetes. I know you’ve got a partner to get back to, but before you go, I’d love it if you took a minute to read a letter that I wrote to my diabetes. Happy reading guys 🙂

WRITTEN BY Drew Harrisberg, POSTED 05/07/19, UPDATED 11/08/22

Drew is an exercise physiologist, diabetes educator, sport scientist and most importantly—a happy and healthy guy thriving with type 1 diabetes. He was diagnosed with type 1 at 23 years old. Sure, his world shifted when he was first diagnosed, but after making positive changes to the way he lived, ate, moved and approached life, he can honestly say he is happier and healthier today than he was before his diagnosis. In a way you could say that diabetes gave Drew the gift of health. His background as a health professional and his own personal triumph with managing diabetes has ignited a passion to share everything he knows. Drew’s Daily Dose is his way of empowering people to take control of their health, so that like him, they can live a fuller, happier and healthier life than ever before.