I was recently having a conversation with a woman – let’s call her “Janie” – about the services we offer at the Skinny Gene Project, when she said something that really took me aback for a moment. Janie said she had recently gone to the doctor and had been diagnosed with having prediabetes. But it was what she said after that, which really took me by surprise.
I paused for a second and looked at her. Janie was right. The woman before me was an educated, middle-aged Caucasian woman with a very petite frame and average weight. She wasn’t at all the picture of prediabetes or diabetes that is often portrayed to the public. Janie was confused, and understandably so.
I went home and thought about our conversation. So many things about it bugged me, and I wanted to do something about it.
Many people like to wait until the New Year to make some sort of resolution. I typically like to do self-reflection and set personal goals 3 times a year. One of which is in November, when I create goals regarding how I can be a better advocate for diabetes prevention.
Prior to my conversation with Janie, I was unsure what I wanted my November goal to be, but now I know.
I want to help others to … RE-THINK DIABETES
Diabetes and Prediabetes need what I’d call a little “rebranding” in the hearts and minds of people across the globe.
When I first found my passion for diabetes prevention in 2002, I was like the rest of them, trying to initiate action from fear. Then again, I was reacting to having just lost my Aunt to diabetes the previous year. But I believe that somewhere along the way the content became so doom and gloom that it robbed people of the desire to create change, like analysis paralysis. Much of the public opinion has become – it’s such a big problem, and since change is too hard, we might as well accept it.
Now, I believe that the facts must be shared, and we must still do our job to help others to see that diabetes must be taken seriously, but we must also balance those fear–based tactics with ones of hope. Diabetes is preventable, and there are people and programs out there to help those in need of nutritional guidance and counseling.
If I were able to wipe the slate clean, and start fresh, I’d have two very important messages I’d like to share.
ONE: With help, Die-abetes can actually be Live-abetes, or better yet… Preventa-betes
TWO: No one, and I mean no one, deserves to have diabetes.
I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard a statement or inference that someone “deserved diabetes”. Diabetes is the 5th deadliest disease, and kills more people than AIDS and breast cancer combined. I feel saying or implying that “diabetes is deserved” is both hurtful and belittling, and it implies that another person doesn’t have the same right to the quality or longevity of life.
The negative stigma surrounding type 2 diabetes is so strong that it’s causing those with type 1 to want to disassociate themselves from type 2. One popular opinion is that those with type 2 brought it upon themselves. Unfortunately, it is these negative associations that cause those with type 2 diabetes to want to “go into hiding” and not seek the support or medical care they need to control the disease, which can lead to a loss of life.
To this, I’d say, just like I would to any other bully, whether they are on the playground, in corporate America, or in the classroom – Stop it!
Yes, lifestyle choices can definitely increase a person’s risk for developing type 2 diabetes. But, I’d also like to offer up an alternative perspective to consider.
To me, the big culprits are also lack of information (e.g. how to read a label), access to nutritious foods, budgetary constraints, stress, psychological influences, and genetics.
Myth: If you are overweight or obese, you will eventually develop type 2 diabetes.
Fact: Being overweight is a risk factor for developing this disease, but other risk factors such as family history, ethnicity and age also play a role. Unfortunately, too many people disregard the other risk factors for diabetes and think that weight is the only risk factor for type 2 diabetes. Most overweight people never develop type 2 diabetes, and many people with type 2 diabetes are at a normal weight or only moderately overweight.
So instead of wagging fingers, let’s try to show a little compassion and extend a helping hand.
At this day in age, everybody knows at least one person with diabetes; you (or they) just might not know it yet. You’d be amazed by how a little support can go a long way when it comes to diabetes prevention and management.
Rethink diabetes, and decide to support those fighting to prevent or control diabetes.
ABOUT ME: My name is Marlayna. I’ve recently shared my story about why I chose to LIVE MY LIFE WITH INTENTION- my life’s journey towards becoming who I am today (click here to read it). I’m a mother, wife, friend, and a diabetes prevention advocate. I occassionally blog about living a healthy lifestyle.
(Disclaimer: The personal opinions expressed above do not necessary reflect those of Skinny Gene Project or J. Moss Foundation)