DEAR HARRIETTE: A young family member was just diagnosed with diabetes. Apparently, he almost died because he didn't recognize any of the symptoms he was having. He ended up in the hospital, and I thank God he's better. He was telling us all about it at Christmas dinner, about how he has had to change his diet and everything. It sounded like he had honestly turned a page in his life and was choosing to be healthy. But then, right before he left, he decided to eat a big piece of cake. He is an adult, so he is old enough to make his own choices. But sure enough, he got sick to his stomach and became very worried about his health. I know it is hard to change old patterns, but it was hard to watch. As his cousin, what can I do to support him as he continues on this journey of healthier living? I don't want to see him kill himself. -- Cousin in Need, Chicago
DEAR COUSIN IN NEED: It is great that your cousin confided in you about his health condition. That means he is being as honest as possible about where he is and, as he shared with you, he is attempting to follow the doctor's directions. Being tempted by sweets, especially at holiday time, can be excruciatingly difficult for diabetics. While he ultimately has to make his own decisions, you can support him by checking in on him periodically. Call him and ask him how he is feeling. Look for recipes for diabetic-friendly desserts that you can share with him. Invite him to dinner some time and prepare a delicious meal based on a diabetic diet. Be in his life as an example of how to make healthy choices. Remind him that if he relapses into his bad eating habits, he can go back to better eating choices right away. For recipes and helpful information about this disease, go to www.diabetes.org.