Questions NOT to ask people with diabetes

Friday, 28 August 2020

Many of the people we talk to who live with type 2 diabetes tell us they’re regularly asked irritating questions about their condition that test their patience.

We thought we’d compile a “greatest hits” list of annoying questions for you and dispel some of the myths about diabetes at the same time. Here’s some of the questions you tell us push your buttons.

  1. Diabetes? How did you get that?

It’s not like you broke curfew or didn’t wear a mask. About 40 per cent of type 2 diabetes cannot be delayed or prevented, so unless people want a detailed conversation about non-lifestyle factors that increase the risk of type 2 diabetes, you can always say “It’s complicated”.

  1. Can I catch it?

No, diabetes is not contagious.

  1. How come you have diabetes? You’re skinny.

About 40 percent of type 2 diabetes is not related to lifestyle factors such as healthy eating or maintaining a healthy weight. Factors you can’t change such as age and genetics increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

  1. You’ll be right once you stop eating sugar.

Unfortunately, this is incorrect. We wish managing diabetes was as easy as taking out one ingredient from your diet.

  1. Should you be eating that?

Whether we live with diabetes or not, that question was designed to curdle the food we’re about to put in our mouths. The answer is yes, as long as we understand about portion size and stick to healthy eating the majority of time. There is no “diabetic diet”. Every Australian should be following the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating. Discretionary foods are a food group that we have sometimes, such as what we eat at a birthday party or an occasional social activity. Enjoy them in moderation.

  1. Type 2: Is that the bad diabetes?

There is no such thing as the “bad” diabetes. All diabetes has to be taken seriously and managed daily. Some people believe that the start of insulin therapy is a bad sign, but if that’s what it takes to get healthy blood glucose levels, you’re doing your body a big favour when you start insulin. By the way, needing insulin doesn’t change type 2 diabetes into type 1.

  1. I told you so!  That’s what happens when ……

Everybody has a theory about what causes diabetes, and unless they’re trained diabetes professionals, they are usually wrong. If people have tried to warn you about risk factors, after diagnosis is not the right time to be reminded.

  1. Just go on those shakes and you’ll be cured.

Very Low Calorie Diets are a short-term solution to losing weight. Losing weight quickly can reduce insulin resistance, improving glucose intake into our cells and muscles. The catch is what happens after you go off the shakes. For the majority of us, the weight goes back on. Lifestyle change and small weight loss can have positive effects. For example, when you remove two sweet biscuits from your daily intake it can result in a 7kg weight loss over a year. If you add in walking to burn another 300kJ, that loss can increase to 14kg over the year.

  1. If you do not lose weight you will have to go on insulin.

Many people with type 2 diabetes will need insulin 10 to 20 years after diagnosis. The factory workers in the pancreas making the insulin keys become overworked. This is because insulin resistance leads to a reduced production of insulin over time. When the body is not able to make enough insulin, insulin injections are needed to keep blood glucose levels in the healthy range.

  1. My friend lost his leg from that.

Cheers. Quoting a severe complication is never the most inspiring example to give when discussing a medical condition. The only thing to remember is that the person talking to you is probably trying to motivate you and wishes you a healthy future. Early diagnosis, lifestyle change and intensive treatment can result in a long and healthy life with type 2 diabetes.

The thing about diabetes is that we’re all in this together. If people are genuinely interested, get them to visit to find out more about type 2 diabetes. If you’d like to be part of a diabetes community, join Diabetes NSW & ACT and let us support you on your journey.

Join our community of over 45,000 people living with diabetes