Health & Beauty | 28 December 2015Thrive with Diabetes: Don’t Rely on Self-Control Share article facebook twitter google pinterest Paul Rosman and David Edelman will help you think outside the limitations of the disease with their new book Thriving with Diabetes. Their book includes a 4-step plan for long-lasting success. While dealing with diabetes may feel like a daily struggle, the two authors want to bring their medical and life experience to diabetic readers to show everyone that there’s a better way; diabetics can establish healthy habits that lead to a thriving life, not weighed down on a daily basis by their blood sugar. Here’s one way diabetics can thrive for life: Change your habits. Habits are things that you do automatically without thinking. Sometimes, you are consciously aware of your habits. Other times, you are guided by the invisible hands of instinct or social pressures. The strength of habits is that they don’t require much effort and are easy to do. The downside is that changing automatic behaviors can be difficult, though it becomes easier when you understand how habits change. The really good news is that if you adopt new, more productive habits, they will soon be as effortless as the less-than-useful ones they are replacing. So how do habits work? And how do you decide which ones are worth changing? The last two decades has seen a wealth of research on how we form habits and can change them. In The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, author Charles Duhigg outlines the relatively simple process:38 You encounter a cue that triggers you to perform a routine, and you get a reward. This reward can be small. When you brush your teeth, it can be the feeling of cleanliness and lessening your fear of cavities. It is not necessarily healthy. With a cigarette, the reward can be satisfying your body’s craving for nicotine. For a gambler, it’s the flood of endorphins that come with a periodic win. In this chapter, we will look at some of the ways that you can change your habits. But first, let’s take a look at the most obvious—yet unreliable—way to change your behavior: practicing self-control. WHY YOU CAN’T RELY ON SELF-CONTROL In 1996, a team of researchers led by Roy Baumeister was on the cusp of uncovering a surprising fact about limits of self-control.39 The experiment began by putting participants in a room in which the air smelled of freshly baked cookies. Some of the participants were invited to enjoy a few chocolate chip cookies. The others were required to eat the antithesis of a chocolate chip cookie: a bunch of radishes. To make things worse, researchers asked the participants to skip the prior meal to ensure they arrived hungry. The radish group looked unhappy. Some gazed “longingly” at the chocolate chip cookies. Others picked them up and sniffed them deeply before setting them down. The really interesting part of the study came next. Each participant was given an impossible puzzle to solve and instructed to solve it. Which group of people tried harder to solve the puzzle? Hint: it was not the radish eaters! They were spent. Self-control is like a muscle. The more you exercise it without rest, the more it loses strength, until it finally fails. If you spend an hour focusing on one task, then when you move to the next, you are at a disadvantage unless you rest in between the two tasks. Eventually you seem to run out of gas. This study and others transformed how we look at self-control. If your environment is stacked against you, you will use up your strong drive for self-control, and despite good intentions, your efforts may fail. This can lead to undesirable food choices like late-night binge eating or skipping your exercise plans. CHANGE YOUR ENVIRONMENT All of your habits are triggered by some stimulus in your environment. In the chocolate chip cookie experiment, it was the smell and sight of the cookies that triggered the participants’ desire to eat them. If there had been no cookies, most of the participants would have cheerfully attempted to solve the puzzles without much thought about food. Your day is full of such triggers. When you wake up in the morning and enter the bathroom, what do you do first? Do you brush your teeth? Turn on the shower? We spend about 40 percent of our days acting out of habit, each one triggered by cues in our environment. Triggers can have a powerful effect on your mood. After all, chocolate chip cookies don’t just put a sweet taste in your mind; they may bring back the childhood image of Grandma’s freshly baked and gooey chocolate cookies in your mind. Radishes just can’t compete. So how can you use this knowledge of triggers to change your habits? If you eat snacks often, you could put out a plate of healthier options in the place where you had a plate of cookies. MAKE AND EAT HEALTHY FOOD You can also change your environment at home to make healthy food easy to eat and less healthy foods harder to eat. This means stocking your refrigerator, freezer, and pantry with healthy food options. Make these foods the easiest ones to reach. You may want to keep a bowl of nuts out on the counter, while burying cookies in the back corner of a drawer. Whatever you do, don’t put the cookies on display in the middle of the counter where you will be forced to covet it as you walk by like a participant in the radish experiment. Think about it: it only takes thirty minutes of self-control to buy healthy food at the grocery store. It takes a week of self-control not to eat something unhealthy once it is in your house. Buy from an Online Retailer US: Learn to Actively Manage Your Diabetes for a Healthy and Happy Life Thriving with Diabetes empowers you to take charge of your diabetes, so you don’t just deal with your symptoms, but change the way you think to improve your health, happiness, and quality of life. Through a simple four-step process, you’ll learn how to intuitively understand your blood sugars and what causes both good and bad numbers. This proactive approach results in the ability to manage diabetes personally, not just by a set of notes from the doctor. Step 1: Lower the Highs Step 2: Limit the Lows Step 3: Use Your Best to Fix the Rest Step 4: Play with Your Diabetes Written by Dr. Paul Rosman and David Edelman, co-founder of Diabetes Daily, Thriving with Diabetes is not just about eating properly (although that’s certainly part of it!), but also about managing the daily challenges of physical activity, stress, pain, sleep patterns, and other life events that have a major, but underappreciated, impact on blood sugar trends. You’ll also pinpoint your favorite meals and activities and use them as multipliers of success–focusing on the positive rather than the negative. The result is immediate and satisfying improvements to total health, both physically and mentally! “Thriving with Diabetes has the answers you need. This comprehensive and easy-to-read guide is a great resource for people with diabetes, their families, and their caregivers. Everything we know about diabetes, testing, and medications is changing, and this up-to-date guide tells you exactly what you need to know.” – Neal Barnard, M.D., author of Dr. Neal Barnard’s Program for Reversing Diabetes “Rather than regurgitate the same old formulas and definitions, Thriving with Diabetes helps us navigate the challenges of living day-in and day-out with this relentless and unpredictable chronic condition. Dr. Rosman and David Edelman show us that surviving diabetes isn’t good enough. Thriving is truly where it’s at.” – Gary Scheiner M.S., CDE, author of Think Like A Pancreas,and the 2014 American Association of Diabetes Educators’ Diabetes Educator of the Year “Tired of feeling confused and frustrated with your diabetes? Thriving with Diabetes demystifies why blood sugars change, and gives you the tools you need to help you manage them successfully.” – William Polonsky, Ph.D., CDE, co-founder and president of the Behavioral Diabetes Institute Share article facebook twitter google pinterest If you have any comments on this article please contact us or get in touch via social media.