Today marks the beginning of Diabetes Week in the UK. It runs June 10–16, or “10 to 16 June” as they might say across the pond.
I wasn’t aware that this is a thing, most likely because I live in the US and not the UK. But also because every week is Diabetes Week when you live with it! 😂
To be honest, I sat down writing without really knowing what I want to say. I just knew I wanted to post something on the first day of Diabetes Week, maybe help someone out there #SeeDiabetesDifferently. And really, I think that ultimately comes with two goals:
- Helping non-diabetics better understand what diabetes is, including the differences between type 1 and type 2.
- Helping diabetics better understand the importance of lowering carbohydrate/sugar intake to improve blood glucose (BG) control.
The former seems to just be an ongoing struggle that I doubt can ever be truly solved. My own mother has type 1, and I grew up with a few misconceptions. How is that even possible? The latter is the purpose of many online communities that I’m a part of. But the problem inherent with those communities is that, to join them, you have to know about them, and if you know about them, then you’re probably already aware of the importance of lowering carbohydrate/sugar intake.
Help Non-Diabetics Understand Diabetes
Easy! Send them a link to the Wikipedia article on diabetes. Boom, done.
The best way to help non-diabetics better understand diabetes is to talk openly about it.
The truth is that most people get their understanding of diabetes from media, especially inaccurate depictions in film and television. And the most common assumptions about diabetes are usually related to the (admittedly much more common) type 2 form. It’s a snowball of inaccuracies being learned from bad sources and regurgitated to uninformed audiences.
You can intercede in this weird cycle by just being open about it with friends and family. Let them know what you need. If your BG is high and you need to treat it with insulin or a quick walk, explain so and then go do it. If you’re low and need some sugar to bring it up (and are mentally coherent enough), explain why as you do it.
If you’re type 2 and trying to improve your diet and exercise for better control, explain to friends and family what your goals are and how they can help you. If you’re type 1, don’t be afraid to give friends and family a quick summary of what type 1 means (as opposed to type 2). They might actually thank you! “My goodness, I had no idea…”
Try not to get upset when confronted with an inaccuracy held by a stranger, friend, or family member. You may feel a slight offense that your entire worldview is not understood by another person. Instead, see their willingness to engage and discuss as a positive thing (despite their ignorance on the matter). Take the opportunity to correct an inaccuracy in the world, and hope that it will propagate forward and lead to more informed people down the line.
Help Diabetics Understand the Importance of Lowering Carbs/Sugar
This is a tricky subject. Food and culture are inextricably linked, and people can be very defensive about both. Combine this with decades of misguided dietary “guidelines”, and you have a tremendous amount of resistance to change.
The best advice for spreading the word about lowering carbs/sugar is to be the change you want to see in the world. It’s cheesy and cliché, but it’s true. The healthier and happier you are, the more that people around you will start to take notice, and some will even begin to ask questions.
Much like before, don’t be afraid to talk about it. There is, unfortunately, a lot of vitriol surrounding the popular “keto” diet at the moment, and you may feel that discussing your own lowering of carbs/sugar might invite some backlash.
You are probably correct.
You should still talk openly about it. No great idea can propagate freely if it’s kept a secret. Be prepared for the backlash, and steel yourself against it. Believe in yourself and your goals. Don’t take offense when a friend or family member doesn’t understand or offers “helpful criticism.”
Beyond this, it will probably take another 10 to 20 years before mainstream medical science catches up on lowering carbs/sugar. They will need to conduct rigorous, controlled studies to eliminate other confounding factors and determine efficacy. In the end, they’ll come to know what we’ve already been living for years.
Talk About It
I guess I just used 750 words to effectively say “talk about it.”
Happy Diabetes Week. #SeeDiabetesDifferently #TalkAboutIt