While you may not be one of the nearly 24 million Americans with diabetes, chances are you know someone who is. For those of us living without diabetes, we can do our part to provide support for family, friends and co-workers who are already living with the disease.
Elizabeth Edelman, a type 1 diabetic and co-founder of Diabetes Daily, offers the following ways to provide valuable support to others living with diabetes.
Do Not Be The Diabetes Police.
It can be hurtful, unexpected and just plain rude when someone asks "Should you be eating that?" says Edelman. People with diabetes are constantly managing and adjusting their nutrition and so they know best the effects specific foods can have on their own bodies. React to their nutrition choices as you would anyone else and don't judge every bite that goes in their mouth.
A simple way to show support is by keeping a small supply of juice or candy to battle lows in a kitchen cabinet, glove compartment or purse. It is comforting to know that someone has a back up nearby.
Understand Diabetes is a Full Time Job. Unless you have diabetes, you will never fully understand exactly how the disease affects every aspect of a person's life all the time. Just having an appreciation for the fact that diabetes never goes away - despite having many "good days" - can provide a great deal of moral support.
Do Not Share Horror Stories.
Often, in an attempt to show understanding, people share a story about a friend or relative who had diabetes and, as a result, suffered a serious consequence. Yes, diabetes is a serious disease, but it does not help to scare or worry anyone.
Know the Type.
Take the time to educate yourself about which specific type of diabetes - type 1, type 2, or gestational - a person has. Remember, one type is not better or worse than the other, so do not judge a person based on his or her diabetes type. "One of the best things my husband did when we first met was to get a book about diabetes and educate himself about the facts," recalls Edelman.