How to encourage someone with Diabetes?

By Squirt594 Latest Reply 2013-11-14 18:08:57 -0600
Started 2013-11-10 21:58:30 -0600

So I don't have diabetes myself, but I have several friends who do. They range from people who are really actively fighting the disease like one of my friends who runs like 10 miles a day, all the way to people who are depressed and want to give up because they can't handle the needles.

I was wondering how to encourage my friends to stay strong and make good decisions especially in their diets. The other day one of my co-workers and good friends who has type 1 went and got some pretty bad fast food on their break, I wanted to say something as they were deciding on what to do for lunch, but I really didn't think it was my place to. I definitely wasn't going to say anything after they brought it back to the break room.

Yeah, so what can I say to encourage my friends while staying nice and not invading on their personal life?

13 replies

victorianvalerie 2013-11-14 17:54:36 -0600 Report

Haven't read all the other replies yet, so this may have already been said, but my first reaction to your question was 'mind your own business!' I'm very sensitive to non-diabetics having anything to say about my food choices - good or bad. Every diabetic is different… different treatments, different number of years under their belt trying to figure it out, different outlooks on their life (live wild and free and die young or keep those numbers in line and live long enough to be a burden to their children, or whatever) It involves a lot of very personal choices that do not need to be explained to anyone else. The best thing to do is love them, have fun with them, don't judge them, and don't gossip about them. Don't tempt them and expect them to be strong enough to resist… e.g. don't bring goodies to work, suggest going out for coffee and dessert, etc. Hope this helps.

vivdg88 2013-11-13 19:56:27 -0600 Report

most Diabetics don't like Advice from A healthy person.just Be there if they need you.offer to wk out with them ,walk with them or offer to take them for A salad or some thing Healthy. telling A Diabetic not to eat something or to eat something good for them will just get them upset !

Graylin Bee
Graylin Bee 2013-11-12 17:23:36 -0600 Report

Lots of good answers and suggestions. Kinda shows what works for one might not be what works for another.
A mutual friend through one of my sisters, has made some adjustments, but seems to eat the wrong things, so has higher BG and A1c, and a few complications When we get together around events involving food I do not preach. She does notice I am eating lower carb food choices. She will initiate the conversations about what would help or what problems she is having. I always try to gently frame my responses, saying this luckily works for me, or such and such gives me higher readings. I have never said to her "Why are you eating that" when she makes a choice that would seem to be bad. I would not want a food police person, unless I first asked them to save me from myself. I would be more likely to do exactly the opposite of what they demanded. Kind of "You're not the boss of me" gut reaction.My sister has told me that she has seen some improvement with our friend in the few years she and I have shared about our T2 problems.. My sis has known her much longer than I have and is closer to her than I am.
I followed the same procedure with my Mom-in-law. When she asked me for help. I did. When she ignored, that was fine since I could not impose my will on hew even if I tried. And if I tried…well she would have hated me for it…and I would have just added more frustration to my life.
My hubby is allowed to say "What were you thinking" when I make a stupid food choice. He even is allowed to say "Are you sure…do you know your BG…Is it safe" But I do not always listen to him when he tries to save me from myself.

Nick1962 2013-11-12 16:25:14 -0600 Report

I think that really depends on the person. I have T1 and T2 acquaintances that are educated about their condition and the first thing we ask after not seeing each other is “A1c?” We watch out for each other, exchange food ideas, but then I’m a controlled T2 and appreciate the camaraderie and info to stay that way.

On the other hand, I have a good friend who is wildly uncontrolled and it has deteriorated our relationship severely. I’ve offered help, but unfortunately he has a dangerously passive personality, almost martyr like, and doesn’t like conflict. He will never do anything to upset the family “harmony” by telling his wife “no, we’re not having take-out every night”, even though he complains to me about her doing it. I can’t stand whining without action, so that’s just another topic between us that doesn’t get brought up anymore (in addition to his crappy job, past girlfriends or lack thereof, wife’s latest expensive hobby, and others).

Feel folks out. Some may want or need the encouragement and others not. For the ones who do, get them to educate you so you know what being a diabetic really means. Maybe even let them pick your diet for a few weeks. This way, you won’t come off as a nanny or babysitter. Like others have eluded to also, try not to be quick to judge based on what you see. Just because I put a fun-size Snickers in my mouth in front of you, doesn’t mean I haven’t been extremely cautious all day or even the last 6 months.

We’re all different and approach our condition differently.

Anonymous 2013-11-11 22:16:30 -0600 Report

If they have type 1, it is important to have a good diet, but they can eat that without having bad diabetic side effects. Type 1 diabetics can eat whatever they want to, as long as they take their insulin before. But, like any other normal person, they can eat "junk" in moderation. It's type 2 that need a strict diet.
It's probably a really good thing you did not say anything to your friend/co-worker. It's super awesome that you are concerned with their health, and I respect you for that. But I have a friend that every time we go out to eat for fast food, I get lectured. And it annoys me so much that sometimes I just wanna stop talking to her completely because every time I tell her it's fine, she takes it as if I don't care, but it really doesn't matter what we eat, it's if we take our insulin or not. Just make sure you know all of the facts before you give her any health advice, and if you really want to take care of her, make sure she gives her insulin and is not eating without doing that first.

Just Joyce
Just Joyce 2013-11-12 12:33:32 -0600 Report

Anonymous, why not simply tell your friend to mind his or her business? They will be offended but eventually will get over it. You are allowing this person to prevent you from enjoying your meal. Until you say something it will continue.

I put a stop to all the non diabetic food police. They didn't like it and I didn't care. It gets to me that people think that because you are diabetic they can treat you as though you are too stupid to know what you can or cannot eat.

Ask your friend if she knows how well your sugar levels are, her answer should be no. Tell her that since she doesn't know that you would appreciate it if she stopped monitoring everything you eat when you are together. Tell her that as a friend she should respect your wishes. If you lose her as a friend, she wasn't really a friend.

Just Joyce
Just Joyce 2013-11-11 11:53:01 -0600 Report

I am glad you didn't say anything to your coworker. You don't know whether or not she/he could have what they purchased and for them it could have been a special treat. I actually had to tell a co-worker who thought she was being encouraging to mind her business. She thought I could not have what I had for lunch. I asked her why I could not have the burger and fries. She said because you are diabetic. I asked her if she knew what my sugar level was prior to my getting this for lunch. She said no. I said then mind your business. If you spent our lunch hour enjoying your lunch then I can enjoy mine.

If you say anything without them first broaching the subject you are invading their personal life. At the end of the day they will resent you. Diabetes is different for everyone and can effect each person differently. People with a chornic disease can get in a rut at times and this is when encouragement can help them the most.

It is good that you want to be supportive of your friends. It is a very selfless act of kindness. However, you don't want to do it in a manner that you will become a crutch for them. You certainly don't want them to become co-dependent and rely on your for everything they do. That can become stressful for you. To encourage them, you have to listen with an open mind and be unbiased. This is where cognitive thinking and compassionate listening plays a role. You are not diabetic so saying you know how they feel or what they are going through is not the appropriate thing to say because the reality of it is that you don't. Never ever say you feel sorry for them. This could make their situation worse.

They may need to be re-educated. Offer to help them find a diabetes education class. They can learn new tricks of the trade and meet other diabetics who could be going through the same things they are. Offer to go with them. Better yet attend a class to be better able to encourage them.

If they say they hate being diabetic, don't want to take their meds or test. Find out why. You have to assure them that they can live a healthy life by properly taking care of themselves. Never make the decisions for them. You can ask why they are choosing to do what they are doing but you have to also accept why they are doing it. Find ways to get them to take their mind off their troubles. Find things you like to do together and go do that. If they need to vent, listen and if they need to cry, be their shoulder.

You also have to be able to step back. If you are trying to help someone and they are not making an effort to help themselves, they will suck up all of your energy and you will end up preaching to the choir. You can't force them to help themselves. Good luck and thanks for thinking of those of us with diabetes. Sometimes all we need is an ear to help us get out of our ruts.

Sherelle112 2013-11-11 11:22:13 -0600 Report

The best advice I can give u is to just be there. Listen & give advice when asked. Personally, no one could "help" me after diagnosis if they didn't have diabetes! Not my mom or my best friends!!! No one can possibly understand how hard it is to give up the foods that you love or how to handle diabetes, especially when you're young & all your friends eat whatever they want! NEVER be the food police. I've lost 60lbs and my a1c is as good as someone who doesn't have diabetes… And occasionally (3 times in 8 months) if I want a small fry or a kids burger I don't want anyone to tell me no. I know that I do we'll 95% of the time so I think every now and then you have to give in to those food cravings. If your friends have out of control diabetes and you're worried about their health I suggest you let them know how much you care about them and you want them to live a long healthy life & when you're around them eat low carb meals like they should. Hope this helps!! :)

Just Joyce
Just Joyce 2013-11-12 12:39:23 -0600 Report

Sherelle good post. Only you can control your diabetes not the food police. They think they are doing you a favor but they aren't. The police officers in our Neighborhood Serivces Unit brought me two real cupcakes for my birthday. The Sgt. asked if I could eat them. I said yes if I eat the right things before I eat one. I actually cut it in half and ate half one day and the other half the next and gave the other one to my sister.

I think it is good that Squirt wants to encourage her friends. The problem is all the encouragement in the world is not going to help her out of control diabetic friends be more responsible if they choose not to change.

Sadly some people who are diabetic don't change until they land in the hospital or something drastic happens.

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