Monday, November 16, 2009

Me and Diabetes: Part Three

At the time I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes I found out that I had been at risk for the disease and didn't even know it.  I had gestational diabetes with my second child, I was overweight, and my grandmother had diabetes.  I didn't know this about my grandmother because she controlled hers with diet. My mother was diagnosed 2 weeks before I was but hadn't told me yet!  Would knowing the risk factors have made a difference in my lifestyle?  Probably not, but had I known, the news wouldn't have been such a shock!

Learning how to live with diabetes showed me that most of what I thought I knew about it was false.  That was probably the biggest eye opener at first.  Since then, most people I know and have met believe the myths and don't know the truth.  It is very irritating to have someone tell you what you should or shouldn't do when they're the one who is clueless!

Here are some of the myths and do's and don'ts for those who don't have diabetes but know someone who does.  I know you love your diabetic, but please know the facts before you try to "help" them!

Myth: People with diabetes can't eat sweets or chocolate.
Fact: If eaten as part of a healthy meal plan, or combined with exercise, sweets and desserts can be eaten by people with diabetes. They are no more “off limits” to people with diabetes than they are to people without diabetes.

Myth: Eating too much sugar causes diabetes.
Fact: No, it does not. Type 1 diabetes is caused by genetics and unknown factors that trigger the onset of the disease; type 2 diabetes is caused by genetics and lifestyle factors. Being overweight does increase your risk for developing type 2 diabetes, and a diet high in calories, whether from sugar or from fat, can contribute to weight gain. If you have a history of diabetes in your family, eating a healthy meal plan and regular exercise are recommended to manage your weight.

Myth: People with diabetes should eat special diabetic foods.
Fact: A healthy meal plan for people with diabetes is generally the same as a healthy diet for anyone – low in fat (especially saturated and trans fat), moderate in salt and sugar, with meals based on whole grain foods, vegetables and fruit. Diabetic and “dietetic” foods generally offer no special benefit. Most of them still raise blood glucose levels, are usually more expensive, and can also have a laxative effect if they contain sugar alcohols

DO NOT be the food police.  A diabetic knows what they can and can't have.  It is her/his decision what to eat and they don't need you to monitor and judge!
DO NOT lecture.  You know how kids don't listen when you  lecture and go on and on? Neither do adults!
DO NOT remind us of complications.  We are very aware of the complications that can arise and don't need to be reminded from someone who doesn't live with the reality every day.
DO NOT compare your diabetic to another diabetic
DO learn the facts of diabetes for yourself
DO be patient with your diabetic.  Living with this disease day to day can be very frustrating.  If it frustrates you, imagine how much more it affects the diabetic.
DO be encouraging and positive.  Focus on what we're doing right and encourage instead of discourage.
DO ask how you can help.  Then follow through.
DO provide healthy food options at your parties and get togethers.
DO understand that all diabetics are not alike.  What works for one might not work for another.
I haven't even scratched the surface of what it's like to live with diabetes.  I have good days and bad days but I can honestly say at this point there are far more good days!  
You can learn more at the American Diabetes Association website.  That is where I got the myths and facts from.

Tomorrow I will feature some great diabetes related Etsy finds!


  1. You are so right, people often give advice about things they know nothing about. My step father was diagnosed, and when I went to visit he was so accustomed to what he could and couldn't eat and do that I often forget that he has it.

  2. Hi Annette - found you through a link on the Etsy forum and thought I'd just pop in for a quick visit this evening. Beautiful blog, and very helpful information. I had gestational diabetes during my second pregnancy (a very long time ago!) and my father was diabetic, but so far I've been able to avoid it. I am hopeful that monitoring my diet, exercise, and lifestyle will enable me to prevent it. Thanks for your words of wisdom! If you want to visit me at my blog, here is the link:

  3. A very interesting read - such an intimate thing to share for such a good reason. Thanks so much for the info !

  4. I was only diagnosed with gestational diabetes a week ago today - but let me tell you, the food police are alive and well! I haven't even been able to see the dr yet for exactly what I need to do, so I've cut my sweets for now and trying to eat better. I've turned down brownies (my favorite!) twice in the past week. 11.5 weeks to go....and then I guess a lifetime of being aware since I'm now more at risk...Sigh!

  5. WOW! Well said :) Thanks to you I at this very minute know more about diabetes than I did 10 minutes ago. I love your "DO" & "DO NOT" list especially! Thanks for sharing.


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