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“Bad Diabetic”: Diabetes And The Shame Game

“Bad Diabetic”: Diabetes and the Shame Game

“Bad Diabetic”: Diabetes and the Shame Game

I was online searching for a topic for this week’s blog entry when I read a comment in a forum that really struck me in a deep way. I won’t directly quote, of course, but the gist of the comment was summed up with the words, “[I am] the worst diabetic ever.” The writer was clearly despondent, and felt that he was simply doing everything wrong. This individual was relatively new to our delightful world of diabetes, and I’m proud to say that follow-up comments were all hugely supportive and encouraging. In any event, I can relate to what he was feeling, as can most of us, I’m sure.
Our daily blood sugar readings (which we get every few hours or every five minutes with a continuous glucose monitor) and that all-important A1C feel like daily homework followed by the “end-of-semester-exam.” It feels like a direct reflection on “how well” we’ve managed our disease. A doctor reporting our high A1C can easily sound like a doctor saying, “you’re bad at diabetes; maybe not the worst I’ve seen, but verrry subpar — you get a D- in this class.” Our daily blood sugar readings can feel like a series of poorly graded papers. It can feel like a succession of personal failures, and it invites an of onslaught of self-shame that led the poor gentlemen I was telling you about to label himself a bad diabetic.
Here’s the truth: There’s no such thing as a “bad diabetic.” I mean it. Even folks who neglect their doctor’s advice, ignore their own best interests, and engage in willfully destructive behaviors; they’re not “bad diabetics.” We’re not “b Continue reading

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9 Foods You Should Be Eating for Type 2 Diabetes

9 Foods You Should Be Eating for Type 2 Diabetes

1 / 10 Healthy Food Choices for Type 2 Diabetes
Paying attention to what you eat is essential for controlling your weight and blood glucose levels when you have type 2 diabetes. While this means knowing which foods to limit or avoid, it’s just as important to know which foods are the most beneficial to you — and how to include them in your meal planning.
“When it comes to eating a healthy diet for type 2 diabetes, balance is really the key,” says Kelly Kennedy, RD, resident nutritionist for Everyday Health. “Many people think that they have to avoid carbohydrates if they have diabetes, but this is not the case. Instead, it's important to focus on eating approximately the same amount of carbohydrates from healthy sources, such as dairy foods, legumes, fruit, and whole grains, at each meal.” Also make whole foods — such as fruit, vegetables, lean proteins, fat-free or non-fat dairy, whole grains, and healthy fats — your go-tos. “Those provide the most nutritional ‘bang for your buck,'" Kennedy adds. Continue reading

Regular alcohol drinkers have lower risk of diabetes, according to a huge new study

Regular alcohol drinkers have lower risk of diabetes, according to a huge new study

There's a new checkmark in the 'drinking isn't all bad for you' column.
According to a new study that looked at more than 70,000 Danish people, those who drink small to moderate amounts of alcohol on a frequent basis are less likely to develop diabetes than people who don't drink at all.
To be clear, these results shouldn't be seen as license or encouragement to drink freely as a health-promoting exercise.
But they do provide further evidence that, for some reason, people who drink moderately are less likely to suffer from certain illnesses, including some cardiovascular diseases and type-2 diabetes.
Regular drinking and diabetes
For the new study, researchers wanted to see how much alcohol consumption was associated with the lowest diabetes risk, and determine whether the type of alcohol or the frequency that people drank mattered.
Using data from the Danish Health Examination Survey, they looked at the drinking habits of 28,704 men and 41,847 women, and tracked whether those people developed diabetes within approximately five years. The researchers excluded anyone who already had diabetes, was pregnant at the start of the study, and didn't provide information on their alcohol consumption.
The results showed that the study participants least likely to develop diabetes drank 3-4 days a week. For men, those who drank 14 drinks per week had the lowest risk, as the chart on the left shows below. For women, those who drank nine drinks per week had the lowest risk, as the right-hand chart shows.
Risk for diabetes in 28,704 men (a) and 41,847 women (b) from the general Danish pop Continue reading

My Seatmate Thought Type 1 Diabetes Was Contagious

My Seatmate Thought Type 1 Diabetes Was Contagious

Diabetes activist Quinn Nystrom has written a memoir called If I Kiss You, Will I Get Diabetes? It unflinchingly chronicles her process to accepting her diagnosis at the age of 10. In this condensed excerpt from her memoir, she discusses how difficult it was to return back to school after her diagnosis, especially when confronted with diabetes ignorance.
Class had just started when my seatmate got up to talk to our teacher, Mr. Johnson. Instead of the usual single chair/desk combo, our history room had small tables with two chairs. We had been in these seats for three months, and Jacob was okay. He wasn’t nice, but he wasn’t mean, either.
Jacob walked back to our desk and sat down without looking at me. After class, Mr. Johnson asked if he could see me. I went up to his desk, wondering if I had bombed last week’s test. Mr Johnson glanced at me, and then cleared his throat.
“Jacob has asked to change seats,” he said, looking down at his hands. “He heard that you have diabetes and is concerned that it could be contagious.”
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Blood rushed to my head. I looked at Mr. Johnson stone-faced, but my mind was roaring. How did Jacob find out? He didn’t even know my last name. Only a handful of my closest friends knew that I had been diagnosed. Now the whole school knew?
I wanted to die.
I can’t do this.
I won’t do this.
Jacob is an idiot. Even a fool knows diabetes isn’t contagious. Mr. Johnson should have sent Jacob to the principal’s office for a verbal beating. Last week I had friends and a life and a future.
When I was capable of speaking, I told Mr. Continue reading

Diabetes Apps Increase User Engagement But Should Be Doing Opposite

Diabetes Apps Increase User Engagement But Should Be Doing Opposite

People with diabetes increasingly turn to smartphone apps to help them manage their condition, and people like my son, a young adult who has lived with type 1 diabetes (T1D) for fifteen years, now have more than 100 to choose from on iOS or Android devices.
Researchers from the University of Florida recently took a look at these apps, and found it difficult to tell whether or not they were actually useful, though they gave many of these apps high marks for aesthetics and engagement.
Speaking from the perspective of someone who has spent these last 15 years living with diabetes in our home and working with thousands of people living with this challenging chronic disease, the vast majority of these diabetes apps do not work for most people with diabetes and are ultimately not useful, and here’s why: managing a chronic disease is exhausting, and tools to support people should be about giving people their time back, not asking them to devote more of it by “engaging” with your product.
There are better ways to use technology to manage chronic conditions.
Living with Diabetes
People living with diabetes—including my son and many colleagues of mine — spend an inordinate amount of time every day taking blood sugar readings, entering numbers on an insulin pump, recording their meals, reordering supplies and prescriptions, exercising, and keeping a daily log of their activities, illness, stress, and moods, and carbohydrate intake.
Going to bed at night does not offer relief from the routine. People with diabetes and, for children living with the disease, their parents, lose Continue reading

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