Ask Fiona: ‘I’m diabetic but just can’t give up the chocolate’

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Counsellor Fiona Caine offers her perspective on family dramas, emotional issues and dysfunctional relationships.

I’m a diabetic with a sweet tooth

Q: My doctor diagnosed 
me with diabetes about three years ago and although I’m not on medication, I’m supposed to be controlling it with diet.

The problem is that I love sweet things, especially chocolate. When I’m stressed, I can’t help indulging.

I know I’m risking my health and my doctor has told me so, but I can’t seem to help myself.

The sweet things designed for diabetics just don’t cut it!

A: Avoid stress triggers. Trying to control your stress with something that causes you worse problems is not only aggravating your diabetes but probably increasing your stress.

For many people, things that are forbidden become all the more attractive and I suspect this is the case with you.

So you need to find treats you can indulge in that don’t harm your health and that reduce your stress at the same time.

You should also set down all your stress triggers so that 
you can find ways of avoiding them or managing them 

Take up yoga, dancing, kick boxing – whatever will reduce your stress – and choose a treat that won’t upset your metabolic balance.

People with diabetes can eat sugar, remember – just as long as it’s part of a healthy-eating programme.

Studious daughter is dating an older man

My daughter is supposed to be studying to be a doctor but she’s neglecting her studies for a “boyfriend” who is older than I am.

She’s 22 and he’s 24 years older than her.

I’m worried she may get pregnant by him and give up her studies altogether.

How can I get her to understand that it’s important she doesn’t give up now – not after four years of study?

A Make him an ally – if your daughter loves this man, then there isn’t much you can do to change her mind. And if you tell her how you feel about him, you may drive them even closer.

Their age gap is not uncommon but, as he’s older than you, I can understand why you find it a little disturbing.

That doesn’t necessarily make him unsuitable for her as long as he’s not making emotional demands that stop her studying.

Rather than regard him as a threat, why not recruit him as an ally?

Finding a balance when you fall in love is difficult.

Rather than alienating her 
with concerns about her relationship, concentrate on getting her to see that she should not make decisions now that she will regret later.

My Teenage daughter has a poor body image

My daughter has just turned 13 and she thinks she’s overweight and ugly.

Of course she’s not. But nothing I say can convince her otherwise and I’m worried she might start obsessing about her weight.

I would hate to see her become anorexic or something, but what can I do to get her to be more positive about herself?

A Be positive and supportive. Many young girls go through a phase like this and it doesn’t automatically mean they will become anorexic.

So while you should watch out for symptoms, don’t do so too obviously and instead encourage her to think about exercise to control and change her shape.

If you are positive, loving and supportive, I’m sure she’ll grow in confidence.

I’ve often referred to Suzie Hayman’s book, Living With A Teenager, which has an excellent chapter on dealing with self-image problems.

You can get copies second-hand if you go online or else try the local library.