Diabetes Mind Games?

Doctors have long known that thoughts and beliefs can have an impact on actual physical outcomes. This is one reason most research studies give a placebo[1] (inactive pill or preparation) to study participants who don’t receive the drug or treatment being tested — simply knowing that they might be receiving treatment tends to improve patients’ conditions. And in the realm of diabetes, it is well established that mental stress and anxiety can have an impact on blood glucose control.

But can expectations about your blood glucose level actually have an impact on it? One Diabetes Flashpoints reader wondered about this and sent us an e-mail. Here is what Rosie P., who is 72 years old and has Type 2 diabetes, wrote:


I have had diabetes for about 10 years now, and it seems to me that perhaps diabetes involves psychological effects. After eating a low-carb or small meal that I think will result in a relatively low blood sugar reading, contrary to my thoughts, I find that I have a high reading! It also works in the other direction: When I do eat a larger portion of food, I think that my blood sugar will be high, but as usual it is the opposite of my thinking. So I am baffled… Perhaps there are some of you out there having the same conflicting thoughts and results?

What do you think? Could Rosie’s expectations of low or high blood sugar levels actually cause the opposite to occur? Or should she look for another explanation for her readings? Have you noticed anything like this? Leave a comment below!

  1. placebo: https://www.diabetesselfmanagement.com/articles/Diabetes_Definitions/Placebo

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