How to Cope with Insulin Resistance, Diabetes, or Celiac Disease

Diabetes Supplies: Monitor, Sticks, Insulin
Use the 5 states of grief to help you cope
with insulin resistance or diabetes,
so you can evolve into a new and better you!

If you've just received the news that you are a diabetic, a borderline diabetic, or heading in that direction, you may be feeling a bit shocked and overwhelmed. Insulin resistance and diabetes come with a substantial change in diet, lifestyle, and attitude, and that can bring sadness, frustration, confusion, and even some anger into your life. 

This knee-jerk reaction is pretty common, so don't beat yourself up over it. Give yourself permission to feel whatever it is you're feeling right now. It's okay. The nature of life is challenge, but that doesn't mean that you have to have the heart of a stone.

It's okay to feel victimized and mistreated for a few minutes. It's okay to throw yourself a pity party for one. It's human nature to feel this way, especially if you didn't see the diagnosis coming.

The trick is to not allow your feelings to dictate or cloud your lifestyle choices. While you might feel miserable right now, you need to stay aware enough to do what's best for you, and not what other people want you to do.

Unlike those who are using keto just for weight loss, and can walk away if you get sick and tired of restricting carbs, the dietary world of insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, or celiac disease isn't a temporary situation.

There's no vacation.

While a single piece of chocolate cake on your birthday won't damage your nerves or cause blindness for a diabetic, the bottom line is that in order to stay complication-free, you need to stick with keto for the rest of your life.

There is no going back to a well-balanced higher carb diet. Walking away from low carb is not an option, not if you want to stay complication free.

This is really beginning to sink in for me.

Pinterest Image: Sugar Cookie Dough and Diabetic Supplies

Give Yourself Permission to Grieve

There are very real feelings of deprivation and loss that come when a situation like borderline diabetes or celiac disease is forced on you.

I went through this before with celiac disease.

Initially, I was overjoyed to finally know what was wrong with me, but eventually, the reality of the situation hit me full force. And when it did, I had a full-blown meltdown right in the middle of Golden Corral.

The meltdown was triggered by how the employees were handling the food. I was shocked to see how salad bars are totally contaminated with gluten.

But the nightmare intensified after returning to the table and seeing what my so-called low-carb in-laws were eating. While I didn't have a psychotic break, I did lose my composure. My shocked emotional state took over, and I was totally unable to control myself.

The reality of the situation, that eating gluten free was for life and there was no room for celiacs to get even one day off, hit me full force in the same way that being borderline diabetic has been poking me in the heart for a couple of weeks now.

When you're a super-sensitive celiac, your social life becomes quite contracted and food becomes an important aspect of your life. However, with diabetes now on the horizon, the relationship I had with some of my favorite gluten-free foods is ending.

The relationship I had with some of my favorite low-carb foods is ending as well. I don't seem to be able to eat what I could the last time I did low carb. Even though it's been a couple of months now, I haven't been able to eat more than 20 carbs a day without my blood glucose rising too close to the danger zone.

I was so hoping that returning to carb restriction would be enough, that I'd be able to go back to my normal 35- to 60-carb diet, and everything would be fine. It's not looking like that is going to happen this time. My world is becoming more restricted than it ever was before.

The silver lining is that having already gone through the process of a major lifestyle change over a decade ago, I pretty much know what to expect this time around. The pity-party won't last forever. Contentment and acceptance will come, but it's not a part of me right now.

Right now, it's time to grieve.

So, I've been trying not to bury my feelings. I've been trying to let them come up to the surface of consciousness, so I can deal with them like a responsible adult. I've been trying to see them, experience them, and find ways to adjust to the complexities that borderline diabetes demands.

To Cope: Allow Yourself to Experience the 5 States of Grief

Diabetes isn't a death sentence. And neither is insulin resistance or celiac disease. You can heal from the shock and rebuild a new lifestyle, but let's be honest for just a minute.

Life will never be the same again.

The person who could eat an abundance of carbohydrates no longer exists. You've moved on with your personal evolution, but that doesn't mean that the transformation is going to be easy.

Giving yourself permission to grieve and allowing yourself the space to move in and out of the following 5 states of grief, as you adopt your new low-carb lifestyle, will make the transition easier. This is because grief is an emotional reaction to loss.

You are losing the ability to eat whatever you want, whenever you want to. There is no way to make up for that type of loss. Getting your mind and heart in the game helps, but it's going to take a bit of effort and self-examination to get through the grieving process.

The last thing you want to do is get stuck in one of these states. But keep in mind that the states of grief are not a path. Neither are they in any particular order. You don't even have to experience all of them to be able to cope with your diabetes diagnosis or even heal from metabolic syndrome or celiac disease.

These are just emotional states that you'll experience now and again as you learn to make keto a valid and functional part of your life.

State 1: Denial

This is where most people with diabetes or celiac disease land just after diagnoses.

You're in shock. The diagnosis wasn't what you were expecting to hear. If you were experiencing symptoms, like I was both times, you were most likely hoping it was something else or you were telling yourself that the results wouldn't be all that bad.

I've had celiac disease and pre-diabetes for decades. My blood glucose control has never deteriorated past the pre-diabetes level. According to statistics, if you can get past the first 5 to 10 years, you're home free, but that isn't what I'm learning about myself. Seeing that 198 mg/dl at two hours after eating wasn't what I expected to see.

It was a huge shock!

If you have pre-diabetes or insulin resistance, which are not always the same thing, you might be ignoring the consequences for not taking active steps toward reversing or controlling the situation. This is very common within weight-loss communities.

I see it all the time. People want to lose the weight. They want to honestly improve their health. But they are in denial as to the best way to go about doing that. People with celiac disease often defend cheating just a little or ignoring the issues that come from cross contamination with gluten.

Regardless of whether you have celiac disease, non-celiac gluten sensitivity, insulin resistance, pre-diabetes, borderline diabetes, or diabetes itself, when you're in denial, you have no idea how you're going to cope with this new development in your life. Instead of dealing with it in a responsible way, you push it out of your mind as if it didn't exist.

One of my brother-in-laws falls into this category. He has Type 2 Diabetes, but continues to eat cookies and other sugary goodies, and even after losing a few toes, he didn't own up to the fact that he needed to change. He has now lost his entire foot.

People who go keto come and go, and when they don't get the fast results they're looking for, they return to their old food habits, gain weight, and then come back to keto in desperation because keto was the only diet that ever worked for them.

People with gluten sensitivity, and not a firm celiac diagnosis, will often play games with food, thinking that their symptoms might be due to something else. This is reinforced if you don't react every single time you eat gluten. However, damage is still being done.

Many dieters say they know that low carb is the best diet for them, that they feel better on keto or a gluten-free diet, but still return to their old, unhealthy diet anyway.

This is flat out denial. Denial of your situation and denial of the consequences.

When you're in denial, you can't stand the thought of never getting to eat your favorite foods ever again. You don't want to change what you eat.

You feel numb and mistreated, so you either keep looking for a different answer, a different diagnosis, a different weight-loss plan that will allow you to keep the carbs, or you pretend that your health situation really isn't as bad as the doctor made it out to be. You might even think that cheating once or twice a week is fine.

I know lots of people with celiac disease who do this.

When I was first diagnosed with pre-diabetes, the doctor I was seeing at the time was so upset about my fasting blood glucose number that it felt like a bit of over-kill. However, it was my now-ex who went into denial instead of me.

I was grateful that the numbers came back as good as they did because I was told right after having my first son that I was pre-diabetic and needed to lower my carbs, so I knew that a low-carb diet was the best eating plan for me.

But others might find the change in diet more troublesome and awkward than I did. My family situation wasn't good, like it is today, so today, I'm having a difficult time accepting that insulin resistance is a permanent defect. I'm starting to miss what I could eat before.

However, the blood glucose monitor doesn't lie, so there is no way for me to rationalize what's going on, even though the mind is trying awfully hard to do so. I'm craving things I have never craved before. Even so, I'm well aware of the fact that a very low carb diet might be a permanent necessity to prevent the disease from progressing.

State 2: Anger and Resentment

Woman screaming, hands over ears

Anger or resentment surface with the classic "why me?" attitude.

There is a strong feeling of being mistreated, of being singled out for punishment by God or the universe. However, rejecting your feelings or trying to hide how you really feel won't make you feel better. In fact, you're more likely to feel worse. Much worse.

Because the only way to release your anger at what's going on is to feel the anger or resentment, even if just for a minute or two, see how useless it is to hang onto, and then consciously let go of it.

Logically, holding a grudge isn't going to make your diabetes, insulin resistance, or celiac disease go away. It's not going to cure your disease or change anything.

Realizing that you have to change your diet for the rest of your life can be painful. I completely understand that. Having borderline diabetes sucks. There's no doubt about that.

But it can be difficult to see past the clouds of resentment when you've set up an account against diabetes, insulin, or gluten for attacking you.

In your mind, you're telling yourself that you didn't do anything to deserve getting diabetes or celiac disease. You didn't do anything to deserve high insulin levels, so why is this happening to you? Why isn't it happening to others who are cramming in the carbs? Why just you?

Anger, when nurtured like this, can turn into blame very quickly.

The need to eliminate the painful feelings can drive you to find some way to make sense of it all, but focusing on causes like genetics or carbohydrates or insulin doesn't really help you heal. Anger won't carve off the pounds. It just raises cortisol, which can stop your weight loss effort cold.

In addition, anger is a way to distract you from doing what you need to do to cope with what's going on. If you're angry, you're most likely sitting around complaining and sounding off. You're not doing anything constructive about your condition.

The nature of life is challenge, and nature challenges us to grow and personally develop in ways that you might not currently understand. Life isn't fair. It will never be fair because what we experience is mostly based on what we believe. And those beliefs are hidden until we are ready to face them head on.

Anger surfaces when you feel a lack of control in your life, so your time would be better spent taking charge of the situation instead of sitting around feeling sorry for yourself. You can transcend your feelings of being vulnerable, picked on, and victimized by diving into your low-carb diet with gusto.

What you need is a new vision of yourself, a new vision of your life and life's purpose, and keto can easily give you the self-discipline you need to do that.

State 3: Guilt

Guilt occurs when you begin to question yourself to find out if you might be the one to blame for your insulin resistance or celiac disease instead of God or nature or the universe. There are so many misconceptions about keto, diabetes, insulin, and health that it's easy to embrace hypothesis or theory as truth, instead of just a possibility.

Playing the "what if" game also falls into this category. If I'd done things different, if I'd continued to cook like I was cooking and eating in Utah, would my blood glucose control have deteriorated as much as it did here recently?

If I had jumped onto the gluten-free diet wagon when it was first introduced to me in 2001, would I have gone on to become a super-sensitive celiac? Or would I have been able to tolerate a higher degree of contamination like a typical celiac?

I've definitely asked myself these questions more than once since I returned to a very low-carb diet.

This is what guilt does to you.

It coaxes you into turning your attention inward on yourself and tries to convince you that you are the one to blame for your current situation. Guilt tells you that what is going on is all your fault.

Finger pointing at one gold star
When the inner critic speaks
ignore their judgment of you!

The inner critic can be brutal. It's very unforgiving. At least, mine is. She yanks my attention from what's going on right now -- borderline diabetes -- into the past (how we started eating when we first arrived in Texas, due to the fact that we were living in a motel room) and tries to keep my thoughts there, so I will continue to replay those past choices over and over in my mind.

The truth is:

What you did last year doesn't matter. The past no longer exists, so it's fruitless to buy into your inner critic's ideas and condemnation. It's better to place your attention on today and focus on what you can currently do about your insulin resistance, diabetes, and gluten sensitivity.

Sitting around thinking isn't action. Doing is action. So, move past the thinking and discover tasty ways to make keto an enjoyable part of your life. The choice is between joy and suffering, and which one you choose is up to you.

State 4: Self Pity

If you're very sensitive to carbohydrates, self-pity is a biggie.

Although hubby and I were not eating anywhere near the average American diet of 400 to 500 carbs per day, we were eating enough carbohydrate to make the drop to 20 net carbs a very drastic change. It wasn't difficult to start feeling sorry for ourselves, which is exactly what self-pity does.

When grief has begun to control your life, it will threaten to pull you down to the lowest level of apathy. When you enter apathy, you pull away from your family and friends, and begin to wonder if life is even worth living anymore.

This is a very common experience for those with celiac disease due to the disruptive social changes and loss of spontaneity.

If you can't eat what everyone else is eating, if there is nothing you can do to fix your diabetes, or make your insulin resistance go away so you can start eat carbs again, then why bother living? If Keto won't "cure" what's wrong, if you have to stay on keto or a gluten-free diet for the rest of your life, is it really worth all the effort it takes to carve off the pounds?

Self-pity is a pretty harsh and stagnant state to be in. You literally can't do anything except cry and complain. And most people who get caught in this state of being want everyone else to be miserable with them. They want people to pat them on the back, pamper them, and agree that they are a victim of circumstances.

There's nothing wrong with putting on a mild self-pity party, provided you stay aware enough to pull yourself back up once you've released all of that negative energy. But to do that, you're going to have to go beyond the current moment and look at the ramifications that will affect your life at a future date.

Think about the painful consequences that will show up if you don't get up and figure out how to make keto a very real part of your life.

The danger in apathy comes when you shut yourself off from everything that's good and pleasant in your life. Food isn't the only thing enjoyable in life, but when you're stuck in self-pity, it's often difficult to see that reality. Open your mind and heart and look around at everything you have to be grateful for.

State 5: Self-Acceptance

This is the state where you want to get to, if possible.

However, acceptance isn't tolerance. You don't want to just put up with the situation, while cursing your keto diet under your breath. You want to implement small changes that you can enjoy.

On the other hand, acceptance isn't trying to recreate the life you had before, either.

Acceptance is when you see your celiac disease, insulin resistance, pre-diabetes, borderline diabetes, or diabetes as a challenge to overcome instead of an enemy. Keto can be a new project to work on, rather than diabetes being a problem that needs to be solved.

Self-acceptance occurs when you arrive at the place where you realize that you are in charge of how you feel.

And if you're in charge, then you can decide that:
  • Celiac disease, insulin resistance, or diabetes isn't going to be in charge anymore!
  • Celiac disease, insulin resistance, or diabetes isn't going to make you feel miserable anymore!
  • Celiac disease, insulin resistance, or diabetes isn't going to interfere with your life anymore!
  • Celiac disease, insulin resistance. or diabetes isn't going to hold you back from being who you want to be!
Sure, it's going to take some time to figure out how to incorporate keto into your life. Keto is going to take a lot of adjustments and adapting. That may or may not be pleasant. You'll have to figure out as you go along how to comfortably survive in a world that is saturated with carbs.

And that takes a huge mind shift:
  • A new way of looking at yourself and world.
  • A new way of relating to food and social engagements.
  • A new way of interacting with family, friends, co-workers, and strangers.
  • A whole new attitude about living and loving.
Coping with your celiac disease, insulin resistance, or diabetes requires you to literally create a new role for yourself to play. It requires you to create a new purpose for living. And especially, a new reason to live joyfully. Coping always requires you to become vitally interested enough to:
  • educate yourself on keto and low-carb basic principles
  • learn the science behind why keto works
  • make new friends who will support your new lifestyle
  • try new keto foods you have never eaten before
  • take up a hobby that you're passionate about
  • plan for holiday gatherings to be at your house
While some foods are going to always be off-limits from now on, there is still a huge part of life that you can still enjoy. To help you find alternatives to food, take a few minutes and make a list of everything you have to be grateful for. Right now.

And while you're at it, also make a list of everything you'd like to DO that doesn't include food. Once you have a list, you can take the steps necessary for you to do some of those things.

In other words, go out and LIVE.

Celiase disease, diabetes, and insulin resistance won't ruin your life unless you allow them to.

Honestly, only a few things are going to change. Most of the pleasures and joys in life will still be available to you.

The trick is to pay attention to what life brings you, accept it with a heart full of gratitude, and know that all things will work together to your advantage if you keep your mood up and don't make celiac disease, diabetes, or insulin resistance more important than they are.


  1. I suffered from insulin resistance for 5 straight years. None of the recommendations of my family doctor were working for me until I came across with Dr. Berg's app. It helps me decide what to eat and what times are best for it. I strongly recommend it.

    1. Thanks for the recommendation. I looked over a doctor-prescribed diabetes diet that a co-worker showed me, once, and I was shocked at how many carbs it contained. Her glucose numbers didn't improve until she lowered her carbs.


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