Yes you, over there! What do you know about diabetes?
No, it’s not being fat, and it’s actually more complicated than not eating sugar.
Well, since it seems most people don’t know that much about it, for World Diabetes Day, we’re gonna do a quick crash course.
There are two kinds of diabetes: Type 1 (formerly known as ‘Juvenile Diabetes’) and Type 2.
Type 2 is the more commonly known type. This can come about from flooding your body with more sugar than it can process. While many type 2 diabetics do have larger body types, they are not the only ones. Even if you are burning off the calories that you eat, your body still has to process the sugar you feed it, and while it you can’t get diabetes by eating healthy foods, nearly everything has sugar in it- bread, sauces, and even fruits and veggies all have sugar.
Type 1 is by far the lesser known of the two, for all that it is fairly common. No one knows exactly what contributes to Type 1, though there are many factors that are suspected to have a hand in it. Type 1 Diabetes is an irreversible autoimmune disease where your body’s immune system recognizes your body’s beta cells as foreign entities and destroys them. Beta cells are found in the pancreas and are responsible for producing insulin to break down sugar.
As of yet, there are no proven cures for Diabetes.
Type 2 Diabetics sometimes can technically ignore their Diabetes without fatal consequences. However, this can lead to serious health issues, including loss of nerve function in the feet (hence all those commercials you see on tv), irritability, and general unhealthiness. Type 1 Diabetics cannot.
Living with Diabetes is manageable, but some days it can be tough. Some of the realities kinda suck. To list a few:
- giving yourself a shot every time you eat or else wearing a pump
- managing your numbers every day
- screwing up your numbers can mean anything from feeling dizzy to death depending on the situation
- needing to carry insulin and a kit everywhere
- needing to know the nutritional facts of everything you eat, or at least be able to make an accurate guess
So, in order to help your friends with Diabetes, here are some things you can do to help them out (A/N: many of these are geared more towards Type 1):
- do not tell them that they cannot eat sugar. Especially if they are full grown. They know their bodies and their limits, and it is insulting to insinuate otherwise. (Besides which, this is inherently untrue, otherwise they would all die as everything has sugar of some kind. Diabetics just need to dose themselves with insulin to eat it.)
- do not harass them about their kits. Yes, it looks like they are taking drugs. Yes, they’ve heard that joke about a million times. No, it is not funny or okay to inform teachers that they are taking drugs. That is discrimination and bullying, and nobody needs that.
- if somebody close to you has Diabetes, ask them to teach you how and when to use their glucagon pen just in case. Also, keep hard candies, juice boxes, or other fast-release sugar sources on hand.
- give them the recipes of the food you make them. This will make their lives so much easier. Homemade food is nearly impossible to measure accurately, especially without at least an ingredients list.
- provide protein (i.e. cheese, beef) with meals, as it is one of the few things Diabetics can eat without dosing (though, if it’s drowned in sauce, this is no longer true)
- give them prep time if you want to plan trips. Lantus (long term insulin used for sleeping) needs a fridge. Insulin kits and snacks must be packed.
- do not pull on their pumps. Pumps are attached to the body like IVs- under the skin. This hurts.
- be generally accepting of their dietary needs and do not get frustrated when accommodating them. Remember, this is their life every day, a bit of inconvenience for their sake can go a long way.
- do not call them fat, or shame them for their Diabetes.
- DO NOT provide people who ask for diet soda with regular soda.
This is not a joke. I don’t care how you feel about dieting, Diabetes is often not a visible thing, and while diet soda is okay to drink without dosing, regular soda will throw your numbers out of whack in a dangerous way.
(Feel free to add more helpful tips to this post)