Five More Things Not to Say to a Diabetic

The first time I wrote “Five Things Never to Say to a Diabetic,” I thought it was a one-time thing. After five dumb things people say, they run out of dumb things to say. Oh, how I wish that had been true. Alas, it was not. So, five more things never to say to a diabetic.

51928726af28afada97d091a9a2ecfcb1. “You shouldn’t say you are diabetic. You have diabetes.”  Yes, it’s popular right now not to be “identified by” your disease. But deciding that is the option of the person with the disease. Not you. Even if you are also diabetic. I am a diabetic because in many ways, it does identify me: no drinking, no desserts, no birthday cake. And I’m fine with it. But it is an important part of how I think, eat and behave.

Reply:  “Thanks for pointing that out.” While I believe that setting people straight is a good idea, I do not believe that I can change everyone’s mind about their opinion. Choose your battles.

2. “You can’t stick to that diet all the time. It’s not healthy.” This is a switchback message. The speaker is not ready to accept that you have changed, and wants the old behavior back. That remark is not about you, it’s about the speaker. The speaker also doesn’t know what is or is not healthy.

Reply: Smile, then, “I’m pretty healthy, so I think I’ll stick with it.”

3. “How much weight have you lost?” This is a question no one should ask.306fedaa78da35dd31cf4a490d515086 But they do. If you answer, they will know someone who lost at least 10 pounds more, probably 20.

Reply: “Just enough to have the perfect BMI if I were three inches taller.” The topic will then switch to the irrelevance of BMI, and you will be off the hook.

4.  “So now that you’ve lost the weight, you aren’t diabetic any more, right?” In our culture, we like to be rewarded for hard work. So if you dieted, well, then, your diabetes must be gone. Whew, they don’t have to worry about that anymore. If you continue to be diabetic, you must have made bad choices.

Reply: “I will be diabetic the rest of my life.” It’s hard for some people to hear the truth, but sometimes it’s the best thing to tell them.

5. “So you eat Paleo, right?” People like categories, and they like to label. Once they know which diet you are on, they can try to compare or get you to switch to theirs.

Reply: “What diet are you on?” Most people who want to label your diet also want to talk about theirs. It’s a lot easier to talk to people about their diets because they will not like yours.

Diabetes is a tricky disease that is different for everyone. Each person has a private way to deal with their particular requirements. It’s a thin line between being curious and being intrusive. Your best bet is not to offer advice unless you are the physician for the diabetic. Offer support. That’s always the right thing to say.

Quinn McDonald occasionally runs out of patience.

7 thoughts on “Five More Things Not to Say to a Diabetic

  1. A) I hope I never said any of these ridiculous things to you or come across as judgmental or trying to “one-up” you.
    B) If I have said or acted like this, please slap me. You have my permission!
    C) I just don’t understand people. I have finally come to realize that people want to outdo one another, instead of just truly being happy for their success, but I still don’t understand it. And I really can’t comprehend someone’s attitude of not wanting a friend or loved one to be successful. Whether it be weight loss, exercising (I deal with this with my Mom), getting healthier in general, or success in their career or endeavor. I look at someone else’s success as inspiration and a springboard for myself.
    D) You are one of my biggest inspirations, Quinn! I continue to be in awe of your willpower and strength and I am so glad we are friends.

    • You have never said anything vaguely like this. If you had, you would have heard about it! I’m baffled by the competition, too. But it’s a culture we’ve nurtured, and I’m not sure it’s a good thing. We inspire each other, and that is the best thing!

  2. I have diabetes too – I became ‘official’ in January after years of being on the border. My A1C in January was in the high 8’s but thanks to diet and exercise and medication I brought it down to normal range. Doesn’t mean it’s gone, of course, but I feel relieved that I’ve done the right things. I’m also working on losing weight.
    This type of post is similar to the 10 (or so) things not to say to a depressed person. It’s unreal how thoughtless people can be when encountering someone with a chronic illness of any kind. I’m glad that you seem to be doing well with your regimen

  3. Benefited greatly in knowing your thoughts and feelings. My mother battles with the disease, and we are all deeply affected by it. I learn so much through various articles and posts like this. The learning and understanding is still ongoing.

    ((((((Many blessings and sending lots of love and hugs your way.)))))))

  4. We have always eaten a healthy diet, but my DH was diagnosed as diabetic 16 or so years ago. He recently became insulin dependent. My goodness! Although he hasn’t advertised the fact it has somehow provoked all the comments you mention – but also brought all the ‘closet’ diabetics out into the open. I am amazed at how many there are. I’m reblogging this, hope you don’t mind.

    • You reblogged exactly the right way–with credit and a link–and you are always welcome to do that. Yes, there are a LOT of closet diabetics who are not getting help, because diabetes is a shaming disease that we are blamed for.

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