Etiquette in Feeding a Diabetic

I had the usual struggle today. Someone wanted to feed me. Someone NEEDED to feed me. Someone pushed to feed me.

So, some etiquette rules on Feeding a Diabetic.
1 - I have made a choice to NOT eat sugar and stay off medication. Please don’t tell me, “one bite won’t hurt” because, well, it will.
2 - When I reply respectfully, “No thank you” please don’t make me explain why I decline. Please respect my answer. Please don’t repeat several times because repetition isn’t going to change my answer. (I think that should be true for offering food to anyone)
3 - Please don’t try to explain to me that you used brown sugar in the cookies so it’s ok and not sugar. Its sugar. And many other ingredients are carbs. Also, I personally react to eating sugar substitutes so again, I appreciate the offer but, no thank you. And don’t you think the frosting on the cookies counts?
4 - IF you really are trying to be considerate and you know I’m a diabetic, maybe you could include a veggie tray with the tray of desserts. That would be amazing.
5 - Please don’t guilt trip me about all the time you put in baking. I’m sure someone else will enjoy that treat but my declining is nothing personal, is not my guilt trip, it’s yours? I feel like I have to apologize for wanting to stay healthy. Don’t you value that I will be healthy?
6 - Be a listener to whatever dietary restrictions a person is following. Choices are made for therapeutic reasons, general good feeling, battling inflammation, battling bloating, heart-healthy – whatever the reason, listen and respect personal choices.
7 - Not every diabetic is the same. We all have trigger foods, we all have variations to what works. Please don’t challenge my understanding of my own body and how it functions. I know what that cookie will do to me, it doesn’t matter what it will do or not do to your cousin’s friend. Been there, ate the cookie, got sick.
8 - If you ever start feeling like it’s an argument, you are being a bully, it is confrontational, please stop and think. Then go back to #6 (listen).
9 - Etiquette or good manners seem to be lacking sometimes, so good old fashion kindness is always a good idea. Sometimes the discussion on whether I want that cookie or not is an embarrassment. Always try to make the person you are with feel comfortable vs. embarrassed. I’m more interested in conversation than arguing if you are feeding me. I know that hospitality often falls to offering and serving food, but I think it, more importantly, goes back to feeling welcome and being kind.

Thank you for listening. I was cornered at work today and told that they were going to have a party could I please eat the treats and I’ve never said so many no thank you’s. I’ve never felt so embarrassed. And, in the end, I probably stood my ground and also stood in a puddle of angry. Nobody said being diabetic was fair. Is there a scavenger hunt where you get bonus points if you can get a diabetic to eat sugar?


Pushing food is a show of love. In this case also ignorance. In some cultures it is almost mandatory to push food and also to eat some as shows of courtesy. Some people just can’t help themselves.

I had a friend who always had our group over around Christmastime for a get together. She invariably had a plate of cheeses, deviled eggs, sliced sausages, smoked fish, veggies, olives, pickles, nuts as choices alongside the cookies, etc. There are so many non-sugar snacking things to offer! The thing that always amazed me was that my non-DM other friends liked the non-sugary things too, and were eating them as fast as I, a T1, was. I never felt singled out.


Wow! Who are your friends?
They have boundary issues. I don’t know anyone who does that.
I have friends who have crazy amounts of food at their houses at parties.
I’ve had people offer me stuff I don’t want
No one had pushed me to eat or tried to guilt me.
Not since I was 5 anyway

Probably most people are ignorant and as @Willow4 wrote are wanting to express affection, but, Marcia, I have had a few people push sweets on me who are non-compliant type 2 diabetics and even a type 1 DM. I think this behavior is more an attempt to drown out their guilty feelings.

Just keep smiling while you grit your internal teeth and say, “Thank you, but no.”

I know that some of the diabetics who eat the wrong foods want me to join in because when I don’t they feel judged. Maybe I am, but I am not doing it out loud. If it gets too much I have been know to refuse saying, “I’m awfully fond of my (toes, eyes, kidneys or heart).” Try to be nicer than me, Marcia or not. That bit of smiling rudeness if often quite effective.


Even a healthy non diabetic would get irritated by that kind of thing.


When you refuse a food offering you are creating a feeling of inadequacy in the host. The trick is to let the host know that they are not to blame.

I let you know when I figure out how to do it.

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I know, right?

I feel for you, Marcia. Managing my diabetes, as complicated as it gets at times, pales in comparison to managing relationships.

Some people have a special skill with knowing just how to say no to a food offering without offending or triggering the insecurities of the person making the offer. Perhaps it’s all about acknowledging the offer, complimenting the host’s graciousness and repeating the compliments. I am not good at this.

Maybe what you need to do is have a frank one-on-one talk at another time and place with whoever is doing this to you. At least then, whatever you say will not be heard by others, causing another layer of embarrassment.

It would be easier to just be rude and hurtful so that it fully extinguishes this back and forth. But that would leave you with guilt and embarrassment, too – not a good idea.

If circumstances allow you to accept the treat and say, “thank-you,” then the host could move on and allow you to discreetly ditch the item or put it in your purse for appropriate disposal later. A hungry dog under the table can be a willing accomplice!

When the host returns with another offering, just say, “oh no, one cookie is my limit, thank-you!”

People are such complicated creatures. It’s a wonder that some people manage solid life-long relationships at all.

I imagine that writing this all down was good therapy for you. I would have been equally frustrated.

Tell them your doctor put you on a cinnamon only diet. :triumph:.

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So they sprinkle a lot of cinnamon on whatever they’re insisting you eat.