Does Diabetes Make Life Easier?


I know that title is heretical, but I’m serious: is it possible that living with diabetes could make other areas of life easier?

I’m in the process of writing an article about decision-making, and one of the books I read is Barry Schwartz’s bestseller, The Paradox of Choice. In it, he argues that an overabundance of choice can actually be oppressive, and suggests that if you want to simplify your life, you need to reduce the number of choices available to you. (If you doubt his thesis, think back on the last time you stood paralyzed in the cereal aisle, unable to make a decision because there were so many options.)

Now, I recognize that very few people would choose to have diabetes. But as I read his suggestions on how to limit choices, I started to wonder whether diabetes actually does simplify things in a beneficial way. For example, one of his suggestions is to set rules or guidelines for everyday situations so that you aren’t constantly weighed down by small decisions. You could decide to always buy the same brand of tissues, for example. Or to always floss your teeth before you go to bed, no matter how tired you are.

In some ways, diabetes is automatic choice reducer. When I look at a menu, for example, I can eliminate the entire pasta section without a thought. Having a general rule of not ordering desserts in restaurants saves me the agony of deciding whether to say yes to a particularly luscious chocolate cake. I never drink soda. I know that exercise is good for my blood sugar, so I just do it, regardless of whether I’m in the mood. The result: not only am I healthier than I would be without my diabetic rules, but I save myself the mental effort of having to make these small choices all the time.

Of course, people need options to be happy, and I’d pay good money to be able to decide not to have diabetes. But considering that I don’t have that choice, maybe I should try to be grateful for the way diabetes simplifies life’s other decisions. Perhaps, somewhere in diabetes’ daily frustrations, lurks a tiny blessing in disguise.

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Elizabeth Snouffer
12 years ago

Just curious…why do you eliminate the entire pasta section?  Certainly that isn’t a choice everyone with diabetes is forced to make.  That’s a personal choice.  Right?
I eat pasta (whole wheat too), I bolus … I enjoy it.  Maybe, it’s because I lived in Rome for a number of years, but something tells me I would still love it.  Anyway, for me diabetes and pasta can work particularly if we’re talking about exercise/busy lifestyle/active child.

Jane Kokernak
12 years ago

I know what you mean. When I go to a meeting where lunch is supplied, at the beverage table I just grab a bottle of water without stopping to mull choices. I don’t drink soda, period. It doesn’t even enter my consciousness. And juice is a medication, something to have when BG is 60 or less but not actually a “drink.” Once, though, an overweight woman I know, when she saw how thoughtfully I ate, said to me, “You know what I need? I need a disease like diabetes, to force me to follow a diet and lose weight.” While… Read more »

Fred Wuensche
Fred Wuensche
12 years ago

Good points! Thanks for the post.

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