Six things not to say to someone with diabetes

By Grumpy0308 Latest Reply 2012-05-27 15:50:25 -0500
Started 2012-05-18 11:12:24 -0500

If you don’t have diabetes but know someone who does, remember the following six comments can be insulting.

•"Can you/should you eat that?"
•"Do you have BAD diabetes?"
•"If you'd just exercise…" or "If you'd just eat better…" (While no one wants to be blamed for causing their illness, Type I diabetes is an autoimmune disorder, unrelated to diet and exercise.)
•"You don't look like a diabetic!"
•"My grandfather had that and he lost his leg."
•"I could never do that." (Inject insulin.)

37 replies

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2012-05-27 15:50:25 -0500 Report

HI Grumpy,

This is s great post. There is a lot of insensitivity and ignorance out there, isn't there? We like to think that people totally mean well and just aren't thinking or don't know. But sometimes it doesn't feel that way.


Controlled 2012-05-24 13:21:18 -0500 Report

Interesting, I never really thought of it that way. Just imagine if you selected another health condition/disease. By way of example only (and in no way condemnatory), the public wouldn't be as tolerant if these comments were directed to AIDS patients:

Can you/should you have sexual relations with…?
Do you have BAD AIDS?
If you only exercise self-control or fewer sex partners…
You don't look like an AIDS patient!
My relative had that and…died!
I could NEVER engage in that life style.

It never really occurred to me before that public health announcements can assist with changing the perceptions of health conditions. In view of the epidemic of this condition, it is assuredly overdue. I rarely announce that I, to quote James, am a PWD. I do frequently hear insensitive comments and jokes about diabetes. When I hear them directed to a person, I frequently intervene; otherwise, I learned long ago there may be a cure for diabetes, but there will never be a cure for ignorance.

Grumpy0308 2012-05-24 13:48:10 -0500 Report

Thank you for your comment, what you wrote makes a lot of sense, I agree some people can be ignorant towards one person health and feelings.

CandzG 2012-05-23 09:00:16 -0500 Report

Too true!! I've had the majority of that said to me and I guess I never realised that I get insulted by them…I just sort of laugh it off (if it's the "I could never do that" one) and say "yeaah…well". But in my head I think, "you really don't know what it's like, do you". Even my math teacher refused to give me a Haribo when everyone else in the class received one (I know it's an insignificant situation but still), and that's when I thought, "gee, hardly outsiders actually understand what diabetes REALLY is".

Thanks for posting this!

2manypricks 2012-05-22 11:33:03 -0500 Report

lol yes i've heard them all. Dont eat that your gonna go blind! After eating that i sure hope you don't get sick. Oh, i hope your boys don't get it from you!! Grrr…ppl are so silly. I just tell them say what you want I will always be thinner that you!!!

Type1Lou 2012-05-19 13:09:49 -0500 Report

I use those kinds of comments as an opportunity to explain what diabetes is, what causes it, what the differences are between the various types etc. At a recent quilt guild meeting, the subject came up when I tested my BG and bolused (via pump) before eating my lunch. One of the gals sitting at the table was a Type 2 and she remarked "Boy, you sure know a lot." I've made it my mission to learn as much as I can about diabetes and how to manage mine. I still have a lot to learn. Usually, by the time I'm done responding though, they are probably sorry they ever brought up the subject but may be more careful of callous comments in the future. Knowledge is power!

meloveu 2012-05-19 12:19:42 -0500 Report

that is correct Mr G.0308 I think is a good advice I think we all should take this seriously

T'Leesa 2012-05-19 11:00:40 -0500 Report

I too have heard these comments, and yes, they are annoying. I don't mind explaining to people information about the disease. That can only help. But my supervisor always tells me, "Are you sure you can eat that? You know what you are, a diabetic." Although he may have good intentions, it still bugs me.

red flower lady
red flower lady 2012-05-18 14:56:36 -0500 Report

Yes, all of those I have heard as well as a few others. I really dislike when out with others someone will say, "oh, she's a diabetic, so you'll have to give her alittle more time." Yeah, time to make you mind your own buisness, I'll be polite and say whatever do you mean? Then say you are misinformedand point them to the ADA, etc to learn about diabetes so as to be more comfortable around a diabetic. I don't use my diabetes as an excuse and therefore expect other's to follow my lead, after all, I'm the diabetic and in charge of it! I have been dealing with it since childhood and you do get tired of the remarks at times.

Caroltoo 2012-05-18 13:50:54 -0500 Report

Questions don't annoy me. I take it as an admission of their lack of information and willingness to learn, so I use it as a teachable moment. Because I have diabetes does not, in my opinion, give me the right expect that everyone who does not knows what the implications are.

Judgements, I will turn back on the accuser. If only I would exercise: how much do you recommend? I walk three miles a day, jog sometimes, and lift weights. How does that compare to what you do to stay healthy? Eat better: I eat a clean, natural, organic diet free of pesticides, hormones, and chemicals. How does your diet compare?

Nick1962 2012-05-18 12:23:46 -0500 Report

Most of them I don't mind if people are just being honestly inquisitive.
The "…if you'd just…" comments like they know better get me though.

dietcherry 2012-05-18 11:19:13 -0500 Report

Oh yes I agree 1000% !!!!

Also: "Gosh you have to watch everything you eat, dont you? That sucks for you!"

Grumpy0308 2012-05-18 11:21:11 -0500 Report

Lol! I get that a lot.

dietcherry 2012-05-18 11:24:13 -0500 Report

And dont forget this one: "Oh just one bite wont hurt you!"

dietcherry 2012-05-18 12:02:09 -0500 Report

It takes them a beat before realizing its a joke but the look on their face during the interim is priceless!

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