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Therapy Thursday – Rethinking Diabetes

  • 2 mins

It’s National Diabetes Week! This is the third year Diabetes Australia is delivering the ‘Heads Up on Diabetes’ campaign, with this year’s focus on rethinking diabetes.  

Did you know each year, 700,000 people living with diabetes experience mental or emotional health challenges? Stigma can significantly impact a person’s mental health and ability to manage their diabetes. We spoke with our Dietician, Natalie, about the stigma around diabetes and nutrition.  

People with diabetes, particularly Type 2 Diabetes, regularly receive negative comments about their body or their food choices because people do not understand the multiple factors that influence diabetes management. This is part of the stigma associated with having diabetes and often leads people to feel embarrassed, avoid seeking support, or be unable to manage their diabetes effectively because they are too ashamed to talk about it. 

People without diabetes may not realise that those living with diabetes can include all foods as part of a balanced diet. Although they are aware of carbohydrates consumed, this does not mean restricting them or avoiding them. It just means they need to be included in regular and consistent serves throughout the day and ideally combined with other foods containing proteins, fats and fibre that will ensure they don’t cause a rapid spike in blood glucose levels. 

As well as carbohydrates, sugar is a nutrient often focussed on in diabetes management and regularly stigmatised, but there is no need for it to be restricted or avoided completely. Doing so can lead to disordered eating patterns and an inability of people with diabetes to be able to enjoy social events where fun foods are available.

People with diabetes deserve the opportunity to manage their diagnosis in whatever way works for them. This usually includes seeking regular support from their GP, a Diabetes Nurse Educator and a Dietitian, as well as seeking input from a Podiatrist and/or an Exercise Physiologist depending on their individual needs. 

Commenting on someone’s body or food choices is never okay. If you want to know more about how someone is going with their diabetes management, or want to help them, consider first asking what they might need, and offer them a safe space free of judgement to listen to them without bringing your own opinions to the table.  

For more information about National Diabetes Week, visit the Diabetes Australia website.

This advice is of a general nature. Please consult your doctor or health professional before making any changes to your diet. 

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