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Diabetes Tips: When People make Insensitive Remarks

separator People with diabetes appreciate supportive family and friends when it comes to managing their disease. But sometimes, people who mean well are actually nagging and not helping at all. This can create a lot of resentment, hurt feelings and sometimes even rebellion.

If you’re a family member or friend of someone with diabetes, do you ever find yourself saying things like:

  • “Should you be eating that?”
  •  I thought that wasn’t on your diet.”
  •  “Shouldn’t you be exercising more?”
  •  “Shouldn’t you weigh a little less?”

These are some of the worst things well-meaning people can say to a person who has diabetes. Chances are your loved one will feel like you’re being a nag.

A person with diabetes is just like anyone else. He’s not always going to have a perfect diet. She might have times when she doesn’t feel like exercising. And people with diabetes have the same struggles with weight as people without the disease. Statements like the ones above can be hurtful, and in some cases, particularly for teenagers, they can cause rebellion.

Try some of these more helpful phrases instead of the nagging ones:

  • “What can I cook that would work well for you?”
  • “Do you need help finding time to exercise? What can I do to help? How about if we all exercise together (as a family, group of friends, etc.) a couple of times a week?”
  • “What’s the hardest thing for you about having diabetes? How can I help?”

It’s the same as anything else in life: people don’t like being told what to do. It’s always a better idea to be positive, and ask them what they want and need to be successful.

Consider talking with a diabetes educator, physician or other healthcare provider, or reading more about diabetes so that you can help your loved one handle this inconvenient condition.

Children with Diabetes
If you have a child with diabetes, keep these key things in mind:

  • Give responsibility for diabetes care very gradually, when you’re certain your child is ready. Don’t push them too early.
  • Treat your child with diabetes the same way you treat other children in the family. Remember, a healthy diabetic diet is healthy for people without diabetes too. The whole family can eat the same foods.

Families need education about diabetes
Parents, spouses and siblings who understand diabetes management are likely to be most helpful to the diabetic family member. Nutritionists, dietitians and other healthcare providers can be helpful. So can books.

The more loved ones understand about diabetes, the more helpful and appropriate they can be. 

If you’re the one with diabetes, tell your loved ones who are nagging you that they’re hurting your feelings. Tell them you’d love their help, and let them know exactly what you mean by that.

National Council on Patient Education and Information.
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