Guidelines for loving someone with diabetes


This may be the most important information that you read before Thanksgiving and the other upcoming holidays. Reprint it and share it with other loved ones.

During the holiday season loving someone with diabetes can be as challenging as having the disease itself. The first step toward helping a person with diabetes is acknowledging that managing diabetes is not easy. It can be complicated, difficult and tricky.

Recognizing and even complimenting the efforts to change a lifestyle in order to stabilize blood glucose is often enough to ease the stress of this disease. By the way, blood sugar and blood glucose are different terms for the same thing.

When loving someone with diabetes do not become the Diabetes Police, especially at the holiday dinner table with other loved ones present. No one wants someone constantly looking over their shoulder. It is hard enough living with this disease; don’t embarrass them and make your loved one feel like they are breaking the law too. Be kind.

It is vital to educate yourself as much as possible. Controlling blood glucose involves more than avoiding desserts and monitoring blood sugars. The more you know and understand diabetes the more help you will be when they need it the most. Share your credible knowledge, inaccurate information and myths make this disease harder to handle.

Listen to your loved one. At times someone with a chronic disease just needs a safe place to pour out their fears and feelings. You can serve an enormous purpose by just listening. And don’t stare at them when they perform self-testing or injecting medication. Staring is rude. Give them space without something else to worry about.

Let your loved one make their own choices unless they ask for help. If they eat something that you know may spike their blood sugars, give them the freedom to suffer the consequences. Respect their decision if they say, “No, I’ve had enough.”

Do not compare their self-care with others. Every body deals with diabetes differently. Keep the horror stories to yourself. This is not a “one size fits all” disease.

Ask your loved one how you can help and support them. Family members and friends assume that they know how to help but to be the most supportive they should always ask first. Perhaps all that is needed is a short reminder or to be left alone. An evil eye or violent head shake is not appreciated, especially in a crowd.

How a person thinks they should help their loved one can be entirely different from how their loved one really wants and needs then to help. Discuss and plan a subtle signal if necessary.

Please do not judge. Shame is not going to steer anyone toward self-care without resentment and ultimate failure. Diabetes is not an easy disease to manage. If you are not part of the solution; then you are part of the problem and problems increase stress and stress causes even more uncontrolled blood sugars. Don’t let diabetes steal happiness.


Bobbie Randall

Contributing columnist

Bobbie Randall is a registered, licensed dietitian, certified diabetes educator in Wooster, Ohio. Contact her at [email protected].

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