Daughter’s boyfriend must clean up diet

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To Your Good Health

Dear Dr. Roach: My daughter has been dating a man who is diabetic but is not diligent about his diet. He is outwardly in good health, in that he runs competitively and bicycles in races, but sometimes he has blood sugar readings of 300 plus. He loves a diet of meat, sauces, and rich and sugary foods, and is trying to cut back, but not very hard. He does seem to think he can change things on his own; he isn’t on insulin. I worry about her being in a long-term relationship with him. He is 47 and already has gout. What do you advise? Is he right that he can change this on his own with a small effort? — K.N.


Answer: A good diet is important for everybody, but it is critical for someone with diabetes, especially when that person’s blood sugar is out of control. I don’t have enough information to comment much on his diet (sugary foods, however, are clearly not a good idea; that may be the single most important dietary guideline for a person with diabetes), but he should be speaking with his doctor or with an experienced dietician nutritionist for advice.

I sometimes have seen serious and even elite-level athletes feel that their exercise program can compensate for a bad diet. Usually, it doesn’t. You can always out-eat your exercise, and exercise can’t protect you completely from diabetes.

Depending on the details of his diet and how often his sugar is so high, he may indeed be able to get under excellent blood sugar control just by making changes in his diet. However, people with sugar readings of 300-plus often do need insulin. It sounds like he needs a wake-up call.

With excellent blood sugar control, the ability to have a long, healthy life is as good as a person’s without diabetes (or nearly so).

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