Worried by well meaning friends

Well, I’ve had a bit of a weekend diabetes-wise. I visited my two best friends and in the evening I was in the kitchen making us all a cup of tea when I decided I’d do a test. After discovering I was 3.2 mmol/l (57 mg/dl) and knowing that I’d be having my evening meal in about an hour, I reached for my glucose tablets.

After managing to eat 2 of them, one of my friends came rushing into the kitchen and grabbed the remaining tablets out of my hand telling me that I should be eating “real food” not glucose tablets. She then told me to get a chocolate bar out of the fridge which (admittedly stupidly!) I did.

This really confused me and I was trying to explain that the fat in chocolate means that it won’t help me sort out my hypo quickly enough but her response was that I was using glucose tablets to replace proper food. Granted I’m trying to lose weight, but I am NOT, repeat NOT using glucose tablets as some sort of horrible-tasting and chalky meal replacement. I’m just eating more healthily, exercising and instead of stuffing my face with biscuits and chocolate when I have a hypo, I’m using glucose tablets which are lower in fat!

So, my question is - how do I convince my friends that I shouldn’t be made to feel guilty for having a few glucose tablets when I’m hypo and that they are, in fact, better at treating the hypo than chocolate or other sweets? I feel that if I can’t feel comfortable testing in her house, I won’t be able to go there anymore - after all I don’t want to have to sneak up to a bedroom to test and then treat a hypo because she doesn’t like me using glucose tablets. :frowning:

Well, I didn’t really react to her telling me that they want me to eat “real food” instead of glucose tablets - I think I was a bit in shock. It’s been weighing on my mind ever since though so I think I’ll have to talk to them both next Saturday. I’d really appreciate some good words to use to explain why I sometimes need to eat glucose tablets and NOT chocolate though.

Glucose needs the least amount of work to break down so it tends to work quickest to treat lows. Most “real” foods have to be broken down into glucose before they’ll start working. The other upsides is that the glucose tablets are already pre-measured so it’s easier to know how much carbs you’re giving yourself when you do treat. Since it’s not the greatest flavor, you’re also least likely to overtreat and have a rebound high. All of these things are harder to replicate in “real” food. You might also want to put her on the spot and ask her why she believes that “real” food is better for you in treating hypoglycemia… good luck with this since it can be hardest to explain these things to people who are closer to you

Thanks for this - that’s a really good point about the glucose tablets being pre-measured and the fact that I don’t like them meaning that I’m less likely to over treat. I’ll definitely say that when I speak to my friends at the weekend.

I think I will ask her why she believes so-called “real food” is better for me in treating hypos - don’t get me wrong, I certainly don’t want to lose my friendship with her over this, but I’m curious as to why she believes this. I really need to get the point over to her that it is actually dangerous for her to take my glucose tablets away from me and that she could put me in hospital by doing this. Like you said though, it’s not going to be easy is it?

Depending on the tone (and personally I was thinking more sarcastic, but not what I would suggest ;)), I think asking her about it can help you focus on what the real issue is for her and what exactly are her misconceptions … but yeah for me it’s always been a lot harder to discuss this with friends… than with casual acquaintances…maybe cause both sides are not as invested in the relationship…

Yeah, I don’t think I’ll find it easy at all. I’m not used to discussing such serious subjects with my friends and I really don’t want them to take it the wrong way. I know that they care about me, but I need to get my point across without them taking it personally. Difficult!

Oh yeah, I meant to say, does anyone have any links to good articles about this subject that I could use to back up my argument next weekend? Might be useful as if they don’t believe me, they might believe something written by someone else!

You don’t need to go that far. The information leaflets that accompany your insulin vials/cartridges tell you what to do in the event of a hypo, i.e. have glucose tablets, juice, biscuits, etc.

Since I often feel as if I could eat everything in the house when I’m low, I use glucose tablets because they follow the “treating the low” model. When I’m low, I don’t need “real” food. I need glucose – and FAST!

If I kept Skittles on hand to treat lows, they wouldn’t be on hand because I’d eat them. Best to keep the temptation away! :slight_smile:

In my opinion, your friend should back off and let you be in charge of your own healthcare. If you want some “backup,” try this link to the American Diabetes Association’s website. They have a publication about treating lows that lists various OTC products and why using food to treat lows can be difficult.


Good luck!


You could say something like this:

“I shouldn’t be made to feel guilty for having a few glucose tablets when I’m hypo and that they are, in fact, better at treating the hypo than chocolate or other sweets? I feel that if I can’t feel comfortable testing in her house, I won’t be able to go there anymore - after all I don’t want to have to sneak up to a bedroom to test and then treat a hypo because she doesn’t like me using glucose tablets.”

Thank her for her concern, but remind her that it’s your body, your disease, and you know what you need to treat a hypo. Offer her a tab and ask her if she thinks they are a yummy treat. Then ask her kindly to not grab things from your hand, but instead ask you if you are having a hypo episode and what she can do to help.

Or print out this whole thread and as her to read it.

Good luck,


Tell her politely that until she becomes diabetic, or properly educated in diabetes management, or becomes an MD she can rest assured that you know best what’s good for you. In my opinion you shouldn’t have to qualify your decisions with others when it’s your health in question. Maybe you can find something similar that she does and next time you prevent her from doing it and offer a different suggestion that won’t be as good. In other words, make her understand through actions that when someone is not qualified to make certain decisions they shouldn’t be making them. Don’t forget to thank her for her concern, though, and tell her you appreciate her caring.
Personally I would have said “I know what I’m doing, but thanks anyway.”

I think you got a lot of great suggestions above for how to explain your use of glucose tabs to your friend. The only thing I would add is that for me I think of glucose tabs as “medicine” and it is the right medicine at the right dose to treat hypoglycemia which is a medical problem.

I have been reading a lot on these boards about such reactions from friends and family and have experienced some of it myself: people who seem to feel that we are being “self-indulgent” or “making it harder than it should be” or “just need to change our lifestyle to get perfect blood glucose/get off insulin”, etc. Some people really just need information to correct their misunderstandings, and I hope your friend is in this category. Others have other things going on that contribute to their reactions and may or may not be able to “hear” your explanations. I think you need to do the best you can at explaining but be prepared for varied results. Then you get to decide what to do if the person still can’t or won’t understand. I think the emotional/psychological aspects of diabetes including how it affects our relationships could be an entire category of discussion all its own.

I don’t have a problem with telling my friends or others to basically mind their own business when it comes to how I manage my diabetes. In a polite way of course. :slight_smile:

I am just very confident in the way I manage my diabetes. What works for others may not work for you. You need to be the one in control.
You will become more aggressive in time.


what is it about glucose tabs that are “not real” that makes a chocolate bar “real” both have a shape not born in nature, both have a certain degree of crap ingredients… though that chocolate is worse for you physically. i would also bring out the thing that someone said here, that it is not food, it is medicine, ask if you should stop taking insulin… glucose tabs may not be real food at all, because it is not meant to be.

i would also say that if you have a hard time talking about serious things with these people, maybe you have to readjust your definition of “friend” not to harp… but a friend is one that would say “what can i do to help?” and knows that they would get the same in return from you

Zoe makes a good point. “Others have other things going on that contribute to their reactions and may or may not be able to “hear” your explanations.”

This is very presumptuous of me to say, but I thought it when I first read your post.

I wonder if your friend is just trying to be controlling. Her actions and your statement that you don’t like to talk about serious issues with them just make me wonder.


Thanks for all your comments. I think, as many of you have mentioned, that I really need to get across the fact that I don’t think of glucose tablets as food, but as just the best way to treat hypos. Nothing more, nothing less.

Terry - yes, the friend who snatched the glucose tablets from me can be very temperamental and sometimes controlling. Most of the time, however, she’s lovely and I don’t think that this is worth losing her as a friend over. However, this doesn’t mean that I won’t make it very clear to her that she CANNOT do that again and if she does, I’ll be walking out of the house and won’t be coming back. I’m deadly serious about that. No friend is worth ending up in hospital for because she doesn’t agree with my method of treating a hypo!

I think I’ll print out that guide to treating low blood sugars, just so I have some “evidence” to prove my point (not that I should have to).

Robyn, I’ve had type 1 for 30 years now, and this is the first time that anything like this has happened. I guess I’ve been lucky so far, but yes, if stuff like this keeps happening I might just become more aggressive. For my friends though, I think the best bet is to try to keep my cool and educate them.

Wish me luck!

No way should you have to sneak anywhere to do anything regarding your self-care. Makes me furious. Doesn’t sound like this person would be too receptive to a “this is what I do and this is why I do it” discussion, but I guess you could try.

One time at work one of my friends needed money for the pop machine. I told him to get some coins from my drawer and when I came back to my desk, he was eating a glucose tablet! He said he saw me eating them all the time and wondered what kind of cany tdhey were, and that he didn’t think they tasted very good. Gosh, maybe I shoulld put a bunch in a decorative bowl and let everyone at work partake…

Sam you actually picked the right words yourself “they are, in fact, better at treating the hypo than chocolate or other sweets” It would be good of you to explain that taken with fat or protein the glucose does not get into your blood as quickly as you need it to.

Wow! You guys are good! I’m so pleased to see that all the posts mentioned here express the proper priority order of the conversation that Sam’s friend badly needs:

  1. Safety: Making sure Sam gets the pure glucose needed in the quantity needed when needed (plus, the bonus of using pure glucose is it works fast, avoids excess calories, and lets Sam get back to the activities at hand as soon as possible).
  2. Personal responsibility and autonomy: Sam knows best what Sam needs. So, friend, don’t interfere. Help out, yes. But don’t physically interfere and don’t mentally interfere.
  3. Desire to maintain friendship and create a learning experience: Not sure whether the incident indicates a control issue, lack of boundaries, some hidden hang-up in Sam’s friend’s past, or sheer concern for Sam, but cool that Sam wants to address and educate. Sam is definitely the mature, admirable individual here.

OK, please do not leave us hanging, Sam. Please report on how the conversation goes!!!

Thanks so much for your kind words and useful insight Kelly - and everyone else - it’s really good to have it written down so clearly.

Don’t worry, I’ll tell you all how it went on Sunday or Monday - I certainly won’t leave you all hanging after you’ve been so useful!