April 25, 2019, 01:36:07 pm

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Support Your Local Diabetic!  
Diabetes – of all types – is now a global epidemic. Whether you know it or not, you either are a diabetic, or you know some diabetics, or both.  
Unlike most conditions, diabetes is, for the most part, self-managed by the people who have it. For the purposes of this Very Special Column, we shall assume that your diabetic is an autonomous adult, fully responsible for her/his own health decisions.  
All of us humans, however, deserve a basic level of support. We also deserve basic respect. Diabetes management is work. Much of our work focuses on food, one of life's basic needs. 

Food is vital to our culture. Food carries heavy emotional weight. A great deal of food's emotional force centers on carbohydrates (starches and sweets) – the very foods diabetics must/should avoid.

When a person adopts a way of eating that omits starches – it may spark deep emotions in everyone around them.  
Diabetic support, then, is a type of emotion management. This also holds true for supporting fellow humans who have food allergies or intolerances, or weight issues unrelated to diabetes.  
Now we'll take some questions!  
Q: I want to be extra supportive. Someone told me about the Food Police. Where do I join up?  
A: You can't ! Really. Please … don't even try.  
Food Police (FP) are self-appointed. No applications or interviews! FP “officers” may be friends, family members, co-workers or near-total strangers. There are two Divisions in the FPD:

Division 1 questions a diabetic's every food choice. For extra points an officer may watch, and comment upon, pretty much every nibble a diabetic takes during a single meal.  
Division 2 urges diabetics to try just a little (and maybe just a little more) of everything. Dedicated officers won't take No for an answer. Potential “captains” will also check out a diabetic's fridge or pantry for “forbidden” foods.  
Q: What's wrong with that? Sounds helpful to me!  
A: It isn't. Well-managed diabetics police themselves. They've already calculated for every morsel, and know what to do in the event of an “oopsie.” Poorly managed diabetics will not respond well to unasked-for critiques, especially in mid-bite. Why dent a relationship?  
Also ... how would you like your meals to be monitored by random others?  
A single offer of a starch or sweet is usually fine, but be aware – this can be tough on the newly diagnosed. That said ... while it pains Ms. Toosweet to be blunt, to push foods on anyone after they've said No is just plain rude.  
Q: Wow … support is so hard!  
A: Nope. Support is totally doable. It does take thought, plus maybe a bit of extra work – or not. Moreover, since diabetes (and food allergies, and intolerances) are on the rise, support has become a necessary life skill.  
Real Diabetic Support  
Ask Your Local Diabetic!  
What kind of support does a diabetic want? Diabetics vary. One diabetic may welcome some advice or assistance, while another will not. So ask! (But not too often.)  
For example … you may be asked to watch for symptoms of low blood glucose. Typical symptoms may include shakiness, vagueness and/or cold sweats. If this request makes you uncomfortable – you have every right to say No! However, if you are going to be with this person on a frequent basis, Ms. Toosweet advises you to carry a few hard candies, just in case. (Most well-managed diabetics with no additional health concerns will never require such help.)  
Party Time! You're the Host.  
So you're throwing a party. You know of at least one diabetic on the guest list. What can you do?  
Plenty, as it happens.  
Once again, please consider asking the diabetic guest(s) about any specific requests. If this is not doable for some reason, please make sure there is something low-carb that anyone can eat.  
Non-starched, non-sugared meat entrees are ideal for non-vegetarians. Salads with non-sugared dressings on the side work for just about anybody (please also serve fruit bits, dried noodles, croutons and such on the side). Deviled eggs (unsweetened), bunless cocktail hotdogs, platters of cold-cuts and will also be most welcome. Veggie platters with plenty of broccoli, cauliflower and low-carb dip are great.  
No need to hold back on everybody's bread, cakes, lasagna, etc. Just please make sure the diabetic-friendly foods are also plentiful, and within easy reach. (Ms. Toosweet has attended functions where all of the diabetic-friendly foods are placed out of reach on a large table, or tucked into a different room altogether. Not cool.)  
If you're a diabetic host ... feel free to serve only diabetic-friendly foods if you wish!  
Please do not be offended if a guest insists on bringing his/her own food! Additional health issues and/or bad past experiences may be factors, and it's not right to pry. For your guest, this is self-care, not personal rejection of the host.  
Most of all … focus on the conversation, not on everybody's plate!  
Happy Meals to You!  
Ms. Toosweet