Birthdays and Celebrations

By AlexInAtlanta Latest Reply 2014-10-10 15:37:12 -0500
Started 2014-10-01 09:08:45 -0500

The company I work for celebrates employee birthdays by buying a cake and gathering everyone to sing Happy Birthday and eat said cake. There have been five birthdays in the past month alone. Every time, at least four or five people will offer me cake. I always politely refuse and when questioned say that I do not want cake because I have diabetes. This seems to spark a whole uproar where people try to force me to take a slice of cake, saying "one piece won't kill you!" or "you can go off your diet once in a while, right?" Sometimes people think it's rude and get offended when I refuse the cake and ice cream. My question is, why the hell do these people think it's acceptable to try to get me to eat cake or ice cream or pie or bagels or whatever carb loaded, sugary thing they bring into the office?! I am always polite when I turn down their offers, but it really gets to me sometimes. Now, my coworkers are questioning what they can bring for my birthday. They ask, "well, what CAN you eat?" Like I'm reatricted to celery and water or something crazy like that. One person even went so far as to suggest they bring a veggie plate for me and a cake for everyone else! I'm just so frustrated with constantly having to explain my food choices and defend myself against their ignorance. Does anyone else deal with this stupidity? What do you say to people?


21 replies

Just Joyce
Just Joyce 2014-10-10 15:14:53 -0500 Report

If you are so polite why can't you tell them what you can eat? I did and they had gluten free and sugar free cupcakes for me and the other diabetics as well as the people who are gluten free. There was also regular cake.

Part of this is your fault. You can't blame them entirely. Simply explain to them what diabetes really is and tell them what to bring so you can be a part of the festivities. Sometimes diabetics bring problems onto themselves by hiding diabetes from their coworkers or not educating them when they ask.

They gave you an opportunity to tell them what to bring for you. That was an opportunity. If you didn't say anything and the person offered to bring a veggie tray why get upset about it?

This is why I try to avoid people with diabetes in real life as much as possible. They either don't want to talk about it, are offended when people ask or don't use the opportunity to share informed information. Maybe if you educate them they will know what kinds of foods to bring so you could join in.

We had carrot cake at the office once and an employee said she didn't understand why they always got carrot cake. She was told that she never offers to chip in when we had a small party or she never offered a suggestion when asked so don't complain about the end results. She was offended by what was said to her so the next time she chipped in and offered suggestions. That way she didn't have to feel left out any longer. It seems you co-workers were trying to work with you so that you could be a part of the festivities and you seem to over react. I always point my finger at the one who created the problem. If you don't tell them, they won't know.

AlexInAtlanta 2014-10-10 15:37:12 -0500 Report

Joyce, I really think you need to withhold your judgement of other diabetics, and me, before getting all the information. I have repeatedly told my coworkers that I have diabetes and choose to not eat cake because it does terrible things to my blood sugars. They make fun of me for not eating the way that they do, poke fun at the things I do eat and wave sweets in my face like the bullies in school. How dare you assume I brought this on myself. Would you tell a child being picked on at school that she brought it on herself by being different? No.

Yes, my coworkers offered to bring me a veggie plate, but they also made it very clear that they would not share the veggie plate with me on my birthday and bring cake for themselves. I found that to be terribly rude. I feel that I have every right to be upset under the circumstances and your comments to me are just as rude and hurtful as the crap my coworkers say to me.

If you don't like talking to other diabetics about the trials and hardships of having diabetes, why are you posting on this website? Go sit on a cactus, Joyce.

Pegsy 2014-10-05 20:16:26 -0500 Report

I recently had a birthday and my family was very thoughtful about wanting to celebrate but was attentive to my dietary needs. We went to a buffet where I could choose according to my own needs and taste and my daughter suggested we try cheesecake rather than the usual birthday cake. It was a good choice for me. I had a piece, expecting my glucose to be soaring two hours later but it wasn't. Once in a while I can get away with something sweet. I had a second piece later in the day and my glucose did spike that time but not nearly as high as I would expect. I could not do this on a regular basis, of course but a few times a year, it looks like I can get away with it.

Glucerna 2014-10-05 21:18:02 -0500 Report

What a wonderful way for your family to celebrate your birthday by supporting you in managing diabetes. ~Lynn @Glucerna

calayx 2014-10-04 05:48:21 -0500 Report

I would mention that a yogurt fruit salad would be great. Don't get upset by their ignorance. They have no way of knowing what a diabetic can or can not eat. Be proactive and have a very positive attitude. That has worked for me !

God bless,


tabby9146 2014-10-03 13:35:18 -0500 Report

to anyone who does not know you have D., just say you are trying to eat healthier, or trying to lose weight, or whatever. it makes me mad to read it really, mad at your co-workers. They mean well, at least most of them probably, but there is so much ignorance out there about diabetes. many simply do not understand. I've gotten that before, from family, even my own husband time and time again, still have nearly 6 years, he still says things like that, "oh it won't hurt you." This man even went to "2" classes with me and heard me go on and on at many meals for the first year or more, about why it was that I could not just eat whatever I wanted or as much as I wanted, etc… he STILL make the remarks and it still angers me. His parents do not understand either, and they are always saying it won't hurt me. yes it can!! diabetes slowly, very gradually over the years, hurts us. in ways many of us do not see for years! that is why so many diabetics think it is okay to just keep on eating the way they did before, if they "feel" okay, they think they ARE ok. I have told so many people this in person when they know I have it, and they say something, but fortunately, I have had to deal with very very few of these people. you don't owe them any explanation thats for sure. I am able to get away with a slice , thin small slice of cake sometimes, or some ice cream, but I never eat both. I watch my portions. on special occasions, I try to eat something really healthy at home, before going to something and then I can let myself have a little, but sometimes I still decline. I am glad that I no longer work where they bring cakes for b'days, and donuts regularly, etc… makes it easier.

tabby9146 2014-10-03 13:38:04 -0500 Report

I have scraped off frosting many times too. My daughter's b'day was last month and I was determined to have some cake, it is a rarity with me and I did. I got ice cream in those small cups to watch servings, and I got myself sugar free ice cream in a small cup. don't deny yourself all the time and never have anything at all, or you might binge.

Glucerna 2014-10-03 20:31:24 -0500 Report

I really like the way you handled the birthday cake and planned so that you could enjoy the cake and ice cream with smaller portions. I think you debunked the saying: you can't have your cake and eat it too :) ~Lynn @Glucerna

haoleboy 2014-10-02 21:39:29 -0500 Report

tell them you are on a 'gluten-free paleo ' diet.
since that seems to be all the rage these days they won't bug you to eat that
AND you'll be one of the cool kids

MrsCDogg 2014-10-02 19:36:44 -0500 Report

And I bet if you did eat the cake and ice cream there would be someone telling you that you shouldn't be eating that.

AlexInAtlanta 2014-10-03 16:53:23 -0500 Report

You're so right! Every once in a while, I some Hershey kisses from the jar of candy that's always on the front desk because my blood sugar is low, or I need a quick chocolate fix. There's always someone glaring disapproval at me, yet the same people shove cake at me!

Type1Lou 2014-10-03 18:40:40 -0500 Report

I don't really want to be the party-pooper here but Hershey's kisses are not a really good treatment for low BG's because the fat content in the chocolate slows the absorption fo the sugar and you want the sugar to get into your system really fast…I know because I used to make the same mistakes. Jelly beans, hard candies, raisins, regular soda, juices..these are better sources of fast-acting carbs that should be used to treat low BG (as well as glucose tabs or gel…but I hate the taste of those!)

AlexInAtlanta 2014-10-03 18:50:36 -0500 Report

I always keep glucose tabs on hand. However, I occasionally run out and am faced with an emergency. The choice comes down to the candy jar at the front desk or passing out from low blood sugar. I'm sure you can understand why I would choose to eat the chocolate in that circumstance, even though I know its not the best choice.

Type1Lou 2014-10-01 14:58:25 -0500 Report

Actually, a sugar-free plain cheesecake is a lower carb (although not lower fat nor lower calorie) alternative to the traditional frosted (gag me with a spoon) birthday cake. (That's assuming you don't shun all artificial sweeteners.) I would steer away from a Sugar-free traditional frosted cake since they don't have much fewer carbs than the real thing. In the past, if cake was offered to me, I would scrape off the icing and decline the ice cream, eating a few bites of the cake and tossing the rest. Now, like you, I will politely decline anything that I think is harmful to my diabetes control. Keep to the high road and be true to your convictions, and, like Gabby counseled, use it as an opportunity to educate if that opportunity arises.

GabbyPA 2014-10-01 09:22:16 -0500 Report

What you are fighting is ignorance, not really stupidity. There is a difference and that is why we need to find ways to educate people. As a rule, most people don't get the whole carb thing and just think sugar. I know, my husband, even after so many years, really doesn't understand that either. It's a hard thing to teach without making them feel guilty.

I don't know where you are in comfort of accepting small portions of high carb foods, but it can be done. Only if you choose to though, and don't make them pressure you. But a small 2inch square of cake with no icing can be fit into a day's meal plan if want it to. If you don't then all the better. Maybe you can offer to be the cake cutter so you can control what ends up on your plate.

For your birthday, maybe suggest chicken salad lettuce wraps or a nice cheese ball with a candle stuck in it with crackers and veggies so you can make good choices and participate.

The whole idea of celebrating is to, well....celebrate. The food is only part of that, and maybe a focus off the food and on the person is something you can bring to the table.

jayabee52 2014-10-01 09:56:26 -0500 Report

Excellent response Gabby! Could not have said it better!

Glucerna 2014-10-01 20:17:46 -0500 Report

I once had a party where we didn't have any food and guess what - no one wanted to come :) We often equate celebrations with food, and sometimes people just don't understand that it really is possible to celebrate and have fun without eating. Since the management wants to celebrate birthdays, perhaps they're willing to take suggestions about how each person prefers to celebrate? ~Lynn @Glucerna

MaxieFo 2014-10-09 10:31:40 -0500 Report

That is a good idea. One of my friends recently had a birthday and she knew the office was going to celebrate with cake since they had done so for two other workers prior to her birthday. She mentioned to the planner that she was not able to eat cake or other sweets and everyone became flustered about not having cake.

Many times although the intention of the party may be for the person being celebrated little to no effort goes into finding out what foods are acceptable for the person being celebrated. What many nondiabetics do not comprehend is we do not care if they have their cake, but if the person being celebrated is diabetic at least be thoughtful enough to have alternatives for he/she to eat.

Glucerna 2014-10-09 18:14:06 -0500 Report

I absolutely agree with you on this MaxieFo. I hope your friend's workplace was able to have a celebration that she appreciated. ~Lynn @Glucerna