What Not to Say to Someone With Diabetes

Diabetes Etiquette

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Whether you've just been diagnosed with diabetes or you've had diabetes for some time, listening to people tell you what not to eat and how your illness will determine your fate is not something you want to hear. Unfortunately, sometimes our loved ones aren't quite sure how to help and instead try to manage your diabetes for you. It's important to tell them what you need and how they can offer constructive help. The truth is that when it comes to diabetes, tough love doesn't really work. And while intentions come from a good place, some statements and remarks can be interpreted negatively.

I Didn't Know You Are a Diabetic

Calling someone a "diabetic" can often be offensive. While some may not mind the terminology, others may feel as though they are being labeled. Having diabetes doesn't define identity - people do not choose to have diabetes. Therefore, as opposed to using the terminology diabetic, he is a person with diabetes.

Are You Sure You Are Supposed to be Eating That?

People with diabetes have to think about what they eat for every meal. Food is always on their mind and they are constantly reminded of things that they shouldn't be eating. Unless you are providing education or health care to your family member, it's best to avoid scrutinizing every food choice they make and perhaps refrain from offering unsolicited advice.

Instead of saying passive aggressive comments such as, "are you sure you're supposed to be eating that," or "you can't eat that you have diabetes," ask them if they would like something healthy instead. For example, "I know that cheeseburger deluxe with fries looks delicious, but I think you might also like the grilled chicken salad with baked sweet potato, and I bet it's a healthier choice too." People with Type 2 diabetes need support and positive encouragement, but most do not fare well with the food police.

Is That Dessert Sugar-Free? 

Sugar-free dessert should not be confused with "diet food." Even if the dessert was sugar-free, it doesn't mean it's carbohydrate free. All carbohydrates get broken down and turn into sugar. Instead of isolating a person with diabetes, it might make sense just to allow them to have a small amount of the 'real deal' dessert. They will probably leave feeling satisfied too. You can learn how to carbohydrate count and incorporate it into the meal plan.

My Grandmother Had Diabetes and She Lost Her Leg

Your best friend who was just diagnosed with diabetes doesn't need to know the horror stories about your grandmother. People can live with diabetes for many years without complications. Many advancements in diabetes medicine, technology, and research have helped us to better manage diabetes and provide individualized treatment plans.

Wow! Your Blood Sugar is High, What Did You Do?

Blood sugars vary on a daily basis. If someone is experiencing a high blood sugar, it can be for a number of reasons, some of which are not in their control such as stress and illness. It's hard for someone with diabetes to view a high blood sugar - it is often accompanied by feelings of guilt and disappointment. If possible, avoid commenting on blood sugars unless you are asked.

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  1. American Diabetes Association. Hyperglycemia (high blood glucose).