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Let me give you the straight scoop on talking to a friend who has diabetes. Guess what - it's just like talking to anyone else! Someone with diabetes is just as likely to like the same books, movies, and activities you do - but they do have some special things they need to think about every day.
It can be hard to have a serious disease, and your friend may feel strange about bringing up all the new things he or she has to do - they may worry that you think it's gross when they stick their finger to test blood sugar, or if they have to give themselves a shot. One of the best things you can do is give them a chance to talk to you about how they feel and what they worry about. Another thing that can help is learning more about their disease, and how you can help them manage it, including warning signs that their blood sugar may be too low. It may be a big relief for them to know that someone else is helping to look out for them.
And here's the inside scoop - two big things that every person with diabetes needs to think of every day.
First, food. While everyone should try and eat mostly healthy meals and snacks, it's REALLY important for someone with diabetes. Since some carbohydrates can affect blood sugar really quickly, people with diabetes need to make sure they eat mostly complex carbs like whole grain bread and pasta, fruits and vegetables, and low-fat dairy products. These are broken down more slowly by the body and help keep blood sugar stable. Carbs like white bread, juice, soda, or candy can send blood sugar soaring - just what people with diabetes need to avoid. Eating small meals every few hours also helps keep blood sugar levels from going up and down too much.
So, if a friend turns down cake at your birthday, don't take it personally or try to make him eat it anyway. And, it's even better if you can plan ahead to make sure that you have plenty of stuff they can eat there, too - there are even special cake recipes that use artificial sweetener that people with diabetes (and everyone else, too) can eat.
Next, physical activity. You know at BAM! that we are all about physical activity. And it's also even MORE important that people with diabetes get plenty of activity, because it helps them to keep their blood sugar down.
And if you don't have diabetes, don't think you're off the hook. Being active can help prevent diabetes, because keeping your weight at the level that's right for you is one way to reduce the chance of getting type 2 diabetes. So, if you've got a friend with diabetes, it's great for both of you to get out and play some basketball, walk the dog, or check out the activity cards for other ideas.
Finally, if you want to learn even more about diabetes, take a look at the links section for all kinds of great info to help you understand more about this disease.
- Division of Population Health/School Health Branch
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
4770 Buford Highway, Northeast, Mailstop K-27
Atlanta, GA 30341
TTY: (888) 232-6348
- Contact CDC-INFO