Everybody’s got an opinion -- how do you evaluate advice?

Dr Gary
By Dr GaryCA Latest Reply 2014-12-01 13:04:28 -0600
Started 2014-11-22 11:35:44 -0600

Here’s what I think you should do…

How often have you heard that one? Usually from a family member or a friend who has your best interest at heart. Just hearing those words alone may put on alert for what might be following.

And then, whether you seem to be interested or not, the advice comes your way: “Start eating more…” “Get an appointment with this specialist.” “Tell your doctor to …”

Some of the advice may be useful, some of it may not be so useful. But there it is. And your advice-giver may be pretty insistent that you follow up.

Maybe you asked for advice from someone you thought might have some expertise or experience that you could benefit from. But the advice you got didn’t sound right, or you knew as soon as you heard it that it was just plain wrong.

So what do you do about advice that’s not so useful, if not downright bad? Or, advice that seems suspect? Or advice that you followed, but with negative consequences?

I recently posted an article about bad advice. Here’s a link:


I am curious about how you respond to advice from families, friends, and even supposedly well-meaning strangers.

Ever take advice that turned out not to be so good?

What about how to respond when you know the advice is bad?

Need some advice on handling bad advice?

Looking forward to hearing from you!

49 replies

TsalagiLenape 2014-11-28 15:30:11 -0600 Report

Good points were brought up. One do your own research. Share what you know only if its a suggestion otherwise where is your MD after your name? Also with sharing someone can give suggestions on tweaking it or another view point that you overlooked. So far the only CDE Tara I have thus far seems to have less info for me. She isn't on target doing her classes per se. She has good info yet I need the newer info. Like the meds and better food choices would help. Or another suggestion she did give was to go swimming, I could of kissed her for that one. Since that is the only form of exercises I can do right now. LOL Sometimes I forget things so I will ask for the reminders. I will ask for help on this website aka Log book. Yet willing to voice ideas that seem like fun or helpful aka marbles for self massaging. So far today I have seen this http://BloodSugarBlueprint.com videos which helps with somethings I have forgotten. LOL But whenever you eat its your job to allow or not into your mouth. Hugs

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2014-11-30 13:46:17 -0600 Report


Thanks for jumping in. Nice to see you! You bring up some good points here. Consider the source when you are listening advice. Get multiple opinions, do your research, evaluate your options.

And yes, we are all the final gatekeepers of what gets past our lips.

I hope you are doing well!


TsalagiLenape 2014-12-01 13:04:28 -0600 Report

Doing the best with what I have which is no health insurance, waiting for it to kick in. Otherwise large priced co-pays. Ugh! LOL And paying for my meds too. LOL Hugs

RebDee 2014-11-27 13:40:56 -0600 Report


RebDee 2014-11-26 20:36:38 -0600 Report

I evaluate advice by the person who is giving it. For example, if I have received advice from someone who is not diabetic about Diabetes, I probably will not take it unless there is documentation to back up the advice.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2014-11-26 21:57:29 -0600 Report

That's a good idea. Consider the source. I have found that diabetics know a lot about diabetes! But still what works for one person may not work for another. So that's good advice. :)

Lakeland 2014-11-26 13:31:12 -0600 Report

it's hard, when I first got diagnosed I got mad at the diabetes educator because the things she told me was opposite of what they told my dad 30 years ago, So now I know things change in the medical world. I still like to try things & test my blood & see what happens. I think everyone is different.

I had posted in the past that if my sugars were high, I could walk & drop it 30 points, that's not true for me anymore, & I don't know if it's the intensity I walk with or if diabetes changes over time. So I just make notes & refer back. I think the medical field knows the generally how diabetes works but I think each persons body is different. my mom is diabetic & is in the hospital right now waiting for a quadruple by-pass & they have meal planners. They gave her pot pie, that's dough/ carbs, apple juice, that's carbs & a fruit cup & that's carbs. If I ate that my sugars would be in the 300's.

All I could ask the hospital is " you know she's diabetic?" and they said "yes". so I just ignore peoples advice, since this diabetes thing changes over time. it might be right for them, but not for me.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2014-11-26 21:44:54 -0600 Report

Hi Lakeland,

Thanks for checking in! You bring up a really good point. It seems that the conventional wisdom does change over time, and that can be pretty confusing if you have been taught one thing and are now being told another. Always a good idea to move carefully and stay on top of your testing. Everybody's physiology is a little different, good point.

I amazed at the food people get served in the hospital. You really have to wonder about the wisdom of all those carbs for anybody!


elizag1 2014-11-24 19:36:35 -0600 Report

I think that the best advice to take and take seriously is your doctors.
I think people have advice and, they just want to talk to you, get your opinion maybe.
It is really up to the person to make up their mind and, be kind to people.. listen to the doctors.

RebDee 2014-11-30 18:25:09 -0600 Report

Your doctor is not always the best source BUT if your doctor has Diabetes as the doctor who diagnosed me, then you can be sure he knows a lot about Diabetes. Otherwise, it is just information the doctor got out of a book and something vital could get overlooked.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2014-11-25 21:51:07 -0600 Report

Hello eliza, your doctor is always a good starting point for advice, and for helping you to evaluate the advice you get from someone else. Thanks!

Just Joyce
Just Joyce 2014-11-24 14:12:09 -0600 Report

Dr. Gary, advice/opinions are like a has a nose, everyone has one. People will ask for advice and opinions and then get mad because they are not told what they want to hear. People also take advice from people who know nothing about the topic but are very good at articulating in a manner the person asking for the advice believes them.

What works for me is doing my own research. I read books and go on websites that I know has valid information. If I am not sure of something I ask questions. I only ask questions of people I know who have experience with the topic.

The one thing I don't do is what I see a lot of on this site; asking for medical advice from people who are not doctors and people who are not doctors giving medical advice. People have to learn to contact and communicate with their medical team.

The main reason people are scammed or taken advantage of is because they do not do any research on their own so they fall victim to people who give bad advice. People prey on people they know are not familiar with specific things. Otherwise the weight loss, house flipping, diabetic cures and other scams would not work. Desperate people do drastic things and they always seem to listen to bad advice.

If you want advice get it from people familiar with the topic. Ignore unsolicited advice and opinions and more importantly think about how you seek advice and opinions. Give the full story, give a valid reason for the advice and more importantly, think outside of the box and look at more than one side of something before taking the advice and opinion.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2014-11-25 21:50:07 -0600 Report

Hey Joyce!

Yes, that's right. And nobody needs another nose.

I have also been in that position of someone soliciting advice and then not hearing what they wanted to hear.

Doing your own research is a good way to respond to the advice that comes your way. Ask people you trust, get on the Web, get in touch with your doctor. A way to avoid harming yourself, and a way to avoid scams.

Wanting to believe can be a trap we let ourselves fall into. Definitely safer to look at all sides, including beyond our own emotions.


BreC 2014-11-24 13:40:38 -0600 Report

I am open to different opinions but when it comes to advice, it should not come in the form of a lecture. That makes me want to tune someone out or just ignore them. I have 6 family members who are diabetic. 2 on insulin, 4 on oral meds so I do have experience with diabetes but there is always something one can learn.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2014-11-25 21:41:49 -0600 Report

BreC, that is a good distinction you make. Opinions are one thing, a lecture is another. That can fee disempowering, like you need someone else to point out your errors and set you straight. Wow, sounds like you have your own built in support group. Thanks for sharing this.

Just Joyce
Just Joyce 2014-11-24 19:16:06 -0600 Report

If you ask for someones advice you can't put stipulations on the advice. That would defeat the purpose. If you ask for advice on your terms, odds are you won't really get the information you seek. If people ask me for my advice, they are using my time so you get the advice on my terms.

I heard a woman in a clothing store ask a friend for advice and told her she only wanted it if it was good. Her friend said you don't ask me for my advice and then tell me you only want good advice. My friend and I both shook our heads. The friend told the woman asking, then don't ever ask for my advice again. Needless to say the woman never got the advice on how she looked in the dress. She ended up buying an ill fitting dress that did not do her justice. We still laugh at that.

Stuart1966 2014-11-23 11:37:28 -0600 Report

Appreciate that, thanks. What I think, and say are very different things.

I kind liked the "I am able to CURE you" advice, but I had to stop laughing first. I never could…

lilleyheidi 2014-11-23 04:12:36 -0600 Report

I try to listen to advice from friends and family with an open ear and heart, strangers I'm usually a little more hesitant with as they don't know my history. I do listen to my PCP, but even then if it is regarding my diabetes I will follow it up with my Endo, just to make sure we are all on the same page.
I recently had someone say "oh you should do a cheat a day, it's healthy for you". Well, for me it's NOT healthy to cheat every day, I stick to my eating plan very strictly as I want to lose weight and I want to keep my BG numbers in a good healthy range. I do "cheat" once in a while, yes, I think it is healthy both physically and mentally to have an occasional treat, I put that into my eating plan and go with it, but I can't do it every day. That advice I didn't get into a debate with that person, i just smiled and said, sounds like it might work for you and some people, but I'll stick with what I'm doing for now, thanks.
I do try, but it doesn't always happen, to thank the person offering advice because I do think they are trying to be helpful.
Good discussion idea :)

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2014-11-25 21:39:22 -0600 Report

Hi lilleyheidi! Following up with your doctor before you make any moves seems like a great idea to me. And I agree, hard to see the wisdom in a daily cheat when it can have big consequences. That's a great response to give someone, smile and then do what's best for you. Thanks for checking in.

camerashy 2014-11-23 00:27:10 -0600 Report

I gotta say that after as long as I've been T2, and as long as I've been ignoring advice, I'm doing pretty well. I listen to my doctor, and by now everyone else knows better than to give advice. My next-door neighbor and also friend and I decided that we'd go with "What works for me works for me and not you." We don't discuss our diabetes (yep, both of us) unless she's asking about whether or not a certain food is a good idea. She's newly diagnosed, and most people here (on this site) know that I've been diabetic a lot longer than even I will admit. Advice has its place, but if I hear something new, I always discuss it with my doctor.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2014-11-25 21:34:15 -0600 Report

Hey camerashy, those are some wise word about "what works for me..." That really is the bottom line. Each of us has our own unique make-up, and one size does not fit all. And yes, your doctor is always a good starting point when you are considering a new idea. Nice to see you!

Just Joyce
Just Joyce 2014-11-24 14:15:54 -0600 Report

Camera, I don't talk to my neighbor about diabetes anymore. She asks me what I am doing and she listens to what her doctor wants her to do and she will not listen to anyone. Her children have learned about diabetes to help her and she doesn't listen to them either. Her sister is the same way. Both are out of control diabetics because they feel they can eat what they want and nothing anyone says is going to change that.

I do what works for me and not works for anyone else and because of that, I have gotten very good control of my diabetes. I found my own niche and it works. I have lost weight and controlled my diabetes. Now if I can stop smoking which I am working on, all will be right in my world.

camerashy 2014-11-25 00:13:16 -0600 Report

I'm trying to quit smoking, too. After having to give up so many of the foods I really like(d), and being a non-drinking alcoholic, I feel like if I give up smoking I won't have anything any more. Makes me feel kinda like I'm disappearing.

Grandmama16 2014-11-22 22:32:01 -0600 Report

The only reason I can see a person giving advice to a diabetic is if they are asked or or close enough to the person to just offer suggestions. Everyone always assumes that diabetes is due to weight, and sometimes it can but it's rude to say "just lose weight". I have a relative who has been chubby, bigger now, her whole life unless she starves to get the weight off for a little while yet with diabetes in her ancestry and a skinny brother dying from it at 40, she doesn't have it, nor high cholesterol, nor high blood. Yes, she's a busy busy lady at 74 but doesn't exercise. She loves food and has a whiskey drink every night. She sleeps like a rock and is up at 4:30 despite not having to go to work. Her husband has diabetes and heart disease, lousy sleep. He doesn't appreciate her trying to cook what he needs. Her siblings all have health problems. My husband's is Parkinson's. I'm the one with diabetes. Go figure.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2014-11-25 21:30:50 -0600 Report

Hey Grandmama, very good point here. Diabetes gets associated with being overweight, and everybody has, or thinks they have, good advice about how to lose weight. That can be annoying, and hurtful. And it's just amazing how random life is, how some people become diabetic, or have other conditions, and others do not. All we can do is take good care of ourselves and be ready to live life on life's terms.

robertoj 2014-11-22 22:22:18 -0600 Report

Unsolicited advice is irritating. Sometimes it is spot on so I try not to ignore it. It's hard to discounting my own ego. Sometimes I just want an understanding ear which usually means I know what I should do but don't want to do it. I feel that I should do a lot better about asking. Especially with people thad share similar experiences.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2014-11-25 21:22:06 -0600 Report

Roberto, you bring up a good point. Sometimes advice comes from someone who really understands you and has a good idea for you to consider. Our own stubbornness, and ego, can get in the way. We sometimes hear what we know we need to hear but just don't want to hear it. It can help to go off and think about it on your own, and sort out the advice from your feelings about hearing it. Thanks!

teacherspet 2014-11-22 17:10:34 -0600 Report

I learned a long time ago with a different diagnosis that I listen, look intent, nod, and then take what fits me, and toss the rest. You could drive yourself nuts trying everyone's opinion and never making progress. So listen, take what works for you and dump the rest

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2014-11-25 21:19:56 -0600 Report

teacherspet, a good idea. Look interested, listen, do what you want with it. And don't run around in circles trying to make use of it all.

Kats49 2014-11-22 15:02:19 -0600 Report

If I had a dollar for every time some one tries to be helpful abut my health issues, I'd be wealthier than Trump. I try to be gracious and say Thanks, I'll look into it and move on. Most of the time it is people who love me and they are trying to help…very rarely do strangers say anything.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2014-11-25 21:18:54 -0600 Report

Hi Kats! Maybe you've got a good idea there. You might try charging a dollar everytime someone tries to give you advice. :)) It does seem to come from everywhere, and friends and family, as you said, mean well. But hard to listen to at times.

Pegsy 2014-11-22 14:59:17 -0600 Report

As far as solicited advice is concern, I am very choosy about who I ask and I take what I can use, discarding the rest. It's the unsolicited advice that drives me crazy. Usually from people who have no experience whatsoever with what I am dealing with and are put out that my restrictions interfere with their preferences. In that case I stick to my plan and don't give their advice another thought. It's when they get pushy about it that I struggle. If they won't let it go I will basically tell they to drop it because I know what I'm doing. Unfortunately that last time I had to do that, it got heated and we are no longer friends. Oh well. Sometimes that just has to happen when people are controlling busybodies.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2014-11-25 21:16:10 -0600 Report

Pegsy, that unsolicited advice can be disempowering and frustrating. So often the implication is that you don't know what you are doing, and even worse when delivered with a implied, or direct, scold. And when the "advisor" is also a controlling person, it's even harder to put up with. Yes, it happens. Thanks for sharing this.

RebDee 2014-11-22 13:51:34 -0600 Report

Hi Dr. Garry: Great discussion topic. It actually made me laugh. If the person has not walked in my shoes, they don't really know what I should do.

I belong to a Post Bariatric Surgery group that meets on Monday evenings. Each member tells something about themselves that they need to know or that they did this week or that really works for them. It is up to each individual to either try the others' ideas or not. Sort of like making the pills go down easier. No one ever says, "This is what I think you should do." Occasionally, when we as a group don't know the answers, we call on the RN in charge of Bariatric Surgery classes and she comes to talk to us. Truthfully, she is the only one that is allowed to say "Try this" or "This is what I think you should do." But then she is our teacher and that is what teachers do.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2014-11-25 21:00:13 -0600 Report

Hey RebDee! Absolutely, no one one knows what it's like to be in your shoes. That sounds like a really great group you are in. And a wise perspective on advice. Share experiences but don't try to impose your approach on others. We are all unique in terms of what works and what doesn't work. Thanks, my friend!

RosalieM 2014-11-22 13:32:52 -0600 Report

I see all advice I am given and any I might give as really only suggestions. I expect others to see what I give as "advice" as suggestions too. I am very interested in learning everything I can, but I do a lot of research to get more information before doing it myself. I don't even take my doctors advice without research. I will consider his advice of course, but I won't take it without research. Usually I find a way to stay healthy without his drugs. He has no other advice for me about my diabetes but another drug or more insulin. I have found that most Dr. are that way with diabetes.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2014-11-25 20:51:01 -0600 Report

Rosalie, that is an excellent idea. Listen, but carefully consider and do your own research. That's a great rule of thumb, regardless of the source of the advice. We all need to be our own best advocates and that includes being an expert on our condition.

RosalieM 2014-11-26 07:23:45 -0600 Report

Thanks Dr. Gary when I was diagnosed with type two diabetes, I learned of the complications of the disease. Then I decided I could either get depressed or become the healthiest diabetic I could be. Getting depressed didn't sound like fun so I set out to be healthiest one that I could be. After 25 years, I am still going strong at 76 years old, I don't feel any older than forty and have no evidence of diabetes in my body but for an occasional blood sugar spike.
I get very little advice from people as they can see that I am
not in denial. Type two diabetes has been a good thing for me as it motivated me to learn and grow. I see it as an adventure and race I am winning. I suspect much advice to diabetics is the person giving the advice suspects denial is involved..
I host a diabetes and weight support group. I don't give them advice to break their denial, I try to help them turn their diabetes and weight challenges into an adventure. My motivation is intact still as I need to be a role model for this group.
My advice to the diabetics reading this is you can have control over this disease if you take charge of it and not let it take charge of you. Set out to be a winner and you will win.. Grandma Rose

healthy412c 2014-11-22 12:42:25 -0600 Report

I have dealt with this situation time and time again. The thing to do is measure the advice your getting on a 1-10 Scale. You will instantly know if this advice is useful. Then apply what works for you and x out what doesn't. But most of all always tell the person who is giving you the advice ' Thank you. That is very interesting what you said and I will be looking into that'. Because the truth is they care about your well being or they wouldn't say anything! That's how I see it.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2014-11-25 20:45:27 -0600 Report

Hey healthy, that is good advice from you! People appreciate feeling acknowledged, and that is a nice response, even to advice that is totally off the wall.

I wonder if diabetics don't get more unsolicited advice than individuals living with any other chronic condition.

healthy412c 2014-11-26 20:21:26 -0600 Report

Yes. Since I have become a diabetic. Everyone especially family have advice, tips etc. Sometimes it's bothersome and sometimes it's good information.

sweetslover 2014-11-22 14:09:43 -0600 Report

I totally agree with you. Your friends want to be helpful. It is up to you to filter out what is or is not good for you.

GabbyPA 2014-11-22 12:10:45 -0600 Report

I try to be gracious as I know usually they are well intended. Unsolicited advice often can bug me, but I have to do a self check if that happens. It's when it becomes a broken record or nagging that I start to get a shorter fuse on things. I still just try to tell them they have shared that before and if I tried it or not.

If it's downright bad stuff, I just kind do the nod and ignore. If it is so nuts that it's dangerous, I will just say so and that for me that would not work at all. I try not to be too dismissive because there can often be a chance that it could work for someone else.

Arguing and fighting about it gets nowhere. The other day someone asked for advice here. I offered a little. It was rebutted by what their doctor told them to do. So that is done. Just because I have never heard of treating diarrhea with fiber doesn't mean it won't work. It won't work for me, but that's me.

Sometimes we perceive a gesture as bad advice because we have limits on what we are willing to do. While it might be good advice, if we are not willing to do what it would take to follow it, it can seem like bad advice to us.

There is a whole host of experiences and life choices that influence how we give or take advice. Sometimes the problem is more within than from the outside source. In the end, you have to do for yourself what you feel is right.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2014-11-25 20:39:48 -0600 Report

Gabby, thanks a lot for sharing your wise words, as always.

People can mean well but they can certainly toss out some pretty crazy ideas, all for you. I agree, just take the high road and say thanks.

I am also careful about giving advice. It can have a way of coming back to you if it doesn't pan out. And as you said, what works for someone else may not work for you.

So much advice sounds great on paper, but it sure is hard to take action on. There are some great diets that I have had recommended to me, and as soon as I am able to hire a personal chef, I am going to jump on one of them.

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