How to deal with people who think they know it all about diabetes


A family member worried aloud about how I might have to avoid the large amount of sugar in her dessert. Thing is, I said, I don’t like sweets. I really don’t. I will eat fruit. I have never eaten chocolate. She just looked at me as if I were joking.

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I’ve been thinking a lot about this, puzzled why some people experience constant censure from all and sundry and others experience none at all. Why the difference?

Is it possible that people’s lecturing or advice or criticism are at root a way of caring about us (in their misguided, uninformed way)? If you see a child climbing a tree, you might say, “Are you sure you should be doing that?” After all, children who climb trees fall out and break their necks. If you are uninformed about diabetes and you see a person with diabetes eating something sweet, you might say, “Are you sure you should be eating that?” After all, diabetics who eat sweet things go blind and their kidneys fail.

So it’s possible these people are genuinely trying to help by steering us back onto the right path. How we perceive that concern may determine whether we feel we need to hide our diabetes or not.


@beacher I would have to disagree, I think we all just meet different people in life and regardless of what brings up these kinds of “judgemental” comments, i think it’s rude and hurtful.


Hey Kimmi,

This is a complex topic, and we are complex beings. Most if not all of us here in Tudiabetes know all too well there are different kinds of diabetes and there we are all very different biochemical systems. So not only are there Type 1, 1.5 and 2 Diabetics but there is a full pallet of insulin resistances and other mechanisms that cause our malady. According to Dr Richard Maurer diabetes has something like 14 different genetic expressions, more than any other disease he is familiar with. He says it looks more like an evolutionary mechanism than a disease state.

So to answer your question I try to take every opportunity to explain to folks what I just outlined above and where my diabetes fits into it. I believe there is more good in people and they are merely opining to help us but are doing so out of ignorance not a wealth of knowledge.

I think each of us needs to become a diabetic educator to those around us. As prevalent of a disease as this is I am constantly amazed at how little the world knows about it, medical professionals included.


@IWannaBeABetaCellHea thank you for the interesting perspective


@beacher, caregiving is complicated and it takes a lot of sophistication to do it well. No one does it well in all cases. It gets real hairy. Women can generally tell the motivations of the ‘caregiver.’ That comes into play. Also, the effect of the care on the person receiving it comes into play. Is the ‘care’ harmful to them or making them unhappy? What are the risks of providing ‘care?’ What are the risks of not providing ‘care?’

I think the population looks something like this:

About 20% of the population (green) are your ‘herd protectors’ and they will self sacrifice to protect everyone else, much of the time. They tend to be your truly well intentioned caregivers. I give them a pass because they are generally trying to do the right thing (even if its not). Education might be helpful here.

About 20% of the population (red) are the completely self interested ones. They might push you in front of a bus if it helps them get across the road 20 seconds faster and if no one is watching. They will frequently observe weakness in others (like a medical condition) and offer advice that is totally self motivated and probably harmful to the one receiving it. Your 1% of the population that are psychopaths fall here. This is where your internet trolls are. If one of these individuals does something bad to you, you have to immediately do something bad to them in return because that’s how they learn not to cross the line. (imagine the Rick James v1 skit by Dave Chappelle and Rick James v2 and Rick James V3)

The 60% in the middle, go different ways at different times, according to the circumstances. It depends on the day.

Overall, I judge the odds that any one caregiver is actually trying to help you on any given day, is about 50%. 20% (green) + 30% (half of the blues) = 50%. That might seem bleak. People might argue about how the numbers fall, but I imagine it as a normal curve.

Lets ask the psychologist what he thinks. @lotsofshots

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People for the most part are trying to be helpful. I just say thank you very much and move on. Or I remind them I am a nurse and I know everything lol


:smile: I’m a nurse also and I believe most people want to be helpful. I find it much easier and less stressful to say thank you for caring and move on. I think diabetics and others with chronic processes have enough stress without worrying about what people have to say…smile…move on…forget it…unless it’s something useful.


The problem is that people are not just giving you advice, but they are trying to police you, invading your space, condescending to you, taking over your life. This is going to make any but the most stoical people angry, and so you want to fight back against them. And I think you should. Especially when dealing with most doctors, who know less about type 1 diabetes and its management than my dachshund, you have no choice but to fight, because otherwise they will try to impose some idiotic regimen on you which can kill you.
The fact is that almost everything about type 1 diabetes is quite subtle and controversial, yet the diabetes policemen pretend that it is simple. Sure, hyperglycemia plays a role in complications, but genetics and the continuing autoimmunity also play a causal role. Sure, keeping blood sugar down is a good idea, but new research shows that hypoglycemia itself also contributes to the characteristic vascular complications of the disease…


Agree with you fully @Seydlitz


@Kimmi_D, Here’s an interesting story from the radio that talks about all the things that we don’t know…All the things that nobody knows, for sure. Ted Radio hour - Episode about biology, ‘Hardwired’


A lot more people are around type 2 diabetics and they don’t have a clue what the difference is between type 1 and type 2. Like you can’t eat sugar. Sure sugars are not good for anyone, problematic for a type 2. But a type 1 just needs insulin for any carb, whether it’s broccoli or a cookie.
So hence you can’t have this or that as the type 2 really varies on what they choose to eat. and a type 1 really varies on what they choose to eat. People are in general just trying to help, I just correct them, I like to just say it doesn’t matter in my case what the food is, I’m type 1, I need insulin for the carbs in broccoli too. And you can always add, a particular food bothers me or I just need to take insulin if I want to eat a banana.


I hope you don’t mind but I’m seriously honing in on that phrase for my life now. Mad respect.


[quote=“mohe0001, post:2, topic:63295”]
“I’m in charge of what I eat, when I sleep, and when I go to the bathroom because I’m an adult and I’m an American,”
[/quote] that’s good stuff.

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You are a hero. Lol


I love when I hear the phrase, “sugar diabetic”. It’s offensive and hilarious to me at the same time. You handled that so very well Ms_Mody.


This is unfortunate but I agree. Any suggestions on how we could combat this? I’m 30 and look like I’m 18 so I find myself often times having to put people in their place. It gets me down quite often.

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I have never had anyone try to tell me how to take care of my diabetes. Even my medical staff make soft suggestions of things to try. So, I’m left with the feeling nobody cares. It’s wonderful! :wink:

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@Elyssia_Reedy, this seems like goofy advice, but the best thing that I have found is to have a tall, good looking man speak on your behalf. Its so much easier that way. Male accompaniment is old fashioned, but it can really solve a lot of hassle. My lawyer says that he is often hired by women for this reason. He says that often, all women need is their dad to go in there and yell at someone to get business done, but that he wears a suit and so its worth the money. I believe that’s true. I can say something 1,000 times and no one listens. But, if I bring my lawyer or my dad or a tall, male friend, it gets resolved. I’ve been told, by them, that the trick is to make long, sustained eye contact. My dad went with me to the ER last time I was there and just stared at the Doc while I spoke. He believes that’s what really got things taken care of quickly. He said that, while I was speaking, the Doc didn’t look at me, he just looked at my dad, and my dad made long, sustained eye contact to increase the weight of what I was saying.

Its a buyers market for an attorney. Find a cheap, good looking, young, and tall one. As a diabetic, you can instruct that he aim for court times after lunch, because the judge’s blood sugar has huge impact on if he sides in your favor. You want them recently fed and comfortable.

The only other strategy that I have found to work is to wear a suit and great pair of heels (with a skirt). I noticed that this worked because doors always open for me when I wear a great pair of heels. Women love them and men are captivated. When I wore a skirt, firetrucks would slam on the breaks and honk the horn. I have found a great source of female power in my legs and my walk. Wear something that’s not revealing, but that holds people’s attention just a second longer than normal. That might be sexist, but business has got to get done. The type of shoe, I find, is critical.

If you have any other strategies, they are always super helpful.


I’ve occasionally had this problem. The worst offenders tend to be people who have a bee in their bonnet about nutrition, particularly but not necessarily vegans–people who are self-educated “experts” on nutrition, deeply skeptical of “Western medicine,” and strongly believe a lot of problems can be cured by changing your diet. Well, they’re right about that, up to a point, but combine it with complete ignorance as to the etiological difference between T1 and T2, and you can get someone who’s really difficult to shut down. There’s a particular person in the choir I sing in who epitomizes all of the above, and for a while was a real pain about it. She’s a retired professor as well, and for some people having a PhD in one thing makes you think you’re an expert in all things (I have one, so I know something about that). I tried gently explaining that T1 is an auto-immune disorder and no change of diet is going to bring my insulin-producing cells back to life, and it seemed like she was taking the point, but then she’d be back at rehearsal the following week with more helpful information about some kind of all-fruit diet or whatever. I’m usually polite and accommodating to a fault, but after the second or third time I just bluntly told her she didn’t know what she was talking about and to please stop trying to instruct me on something I’ve been dealing with for over thirty years. That seems to have put an end to it.