Do I Need to Tell Everyone About My Diabetes?

Who Do You Need to Talk To About Your Diabetes?

Reviewed by Robert Ehrman, MD

Who you tell about your diabetes is a personal decision. You don’t have to tell the woman who styles your hair or the cashier at the local grocery, but certain people do need to know.

– DO tell your:

HEALTH EXPERTS. Doctors and other health care providers, such as nurses, dietitians and dentists, need to know you have diabetes. This information can alter the advice they offer you and the way they treat other conditions you may have. When Sophie told her dentist about her condition, he asked her to make her appointments after meals, so she wouldn’t run the risk of having low blood glucose, especially if her dental work made it more difficult to eat for a while.

SPOUSE OR ROMANTIC PARTNER. High and low blood glucose levels can cause you to have mood changes or problems with sexual activity. If your loved one knows that you have diabetes, he or she can help in several ways, such as having an easier time understanding your moods, helping you treat low blood glucose levels with quick snacks and supporting you if you take medication or use another type of treatment to improve the intimate time you spend together.

BOSS. Sophie was afraid to tell her boss about her diabetes. She feared that he would become angry if he knew she had a medical problem. But telling him made her life much easier. He let her eat lunch at a regular time each day and understood her need to leave early for medical appointments. If your boss doesn’t understand your health needs and makes your working environment difficult for you, contact the American Diabetes Association at 800-DIABETES or visit its Website at The organization has experience dealing with these types of problems and can give you helpful advice.

CHILDREN. Diabetes doesn’t have to be a scary topic or a shameful secret. Let your children know that diabetes doesn’t change who you are as a person and that many people with diabetes live long and healthy lives. Invite them to help you with your diabetes care tasks, if they are interested. Young children can insert a test strip into your glucose meter when you test your blood or join you as you dance to an exercise video. When children hear difficult news, they often find it helpful to share it with a close pal. Give them permission to tell a friend or two; this may help them deal with the situation.

– DON’T tell anyone who will:

NAG OR MAKE FUN OF YOU. If you have a relative or friend who will remind you over and over that you aren’t taking care of yourself or will make fun of you, don’t tell that person. You need support, not words that are harsh and mean. Anyone who will make it more difficult for you to care for your diabetes does not need to know. Research shows that people who have friends and family supporting them usually have an easier time doing diabetes-related tasks. A good friend can help you avoid tempting foods, remind you to stick to your workout schedule and cheer you on.

GIVE YOU UNHEALTHY ADVICE. Sophie’s Aunt Joyce believes that she knows everything about everything—she claims to be an expert on any topic that comes up. If anyone has a medical problem, Aunt Joyce knows the cure, even when the experts say there isn’t one. If anyone tries to lose weight, Aunt Joyce will disagree with the dietitian and tell everyone how it really should be done. At first, Sophie thought that it might be helpful to tell her about her diabetes, but then she changed her mind. Sophie only wants to hear good, reliable advice from medical experts who understand it, such as her physician, nurse and dietitian. She doesn’t want Aunt Joyce to offer her “expert” opinion on everything.

Sophie talked about her diabetes with her family and her boss. Her husband now helps bring up her spirits when she feels down. Her best friend, Nancy, joins her for evening walks, and her children help her inspect her feet each night so she can treat any cuts before they become infected. Living with diabetes isn’t easy, but sharing the news with a few important people can be helpful.

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Constance Brown-Riggs, MSEd, RD, CDE, CDN—an award-winning RD, certified diabetes educator, and past national spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, is the author of The African American Guide to Living Well With Diabetes, which received the Favorably Reviewed designation from the American Association of Diabetes Educators, and Eating Soulfully and Healthfully with Diabetes.

Dr. Lori Shemek, PhD, CNC, CLC, the best-selling author of “Fire-Up Your Fat Burn! and leading health and weight loss expert, is also known as “The Inflammation Terminator.” She has made it her mission to educate the public on the toxic effects of certain foods and lifestyle choices and how they create inflammation in the body. She is a leading authority on inflammation and its role in weight loss, preventing disease and optimizing health.

Rebecca Bitzer – MS, RD/LD, CEDRD is an award-winning Registered Dietitian, writer, speaker, blogger, and REBEL Dietitian business owner. Rebecca and her team of six Registered Dietitians have counseled thousands of clients struggling with diabetes for over twenty-five years. They work closely with each other along with internists, endocrinologists, therapists, and families.

Maureen Sullivan – RN, CDE has worked for many years as a Registered Nurse, most of them in emergency and trauma services. She is a Certified Emergency Nurse, Certified Diabetes Educator, and the former manager of a hospital stroke program. Maureen’s wealth of knowledge, passion for nursing and education, and ability to engage people makes her an excellent teacher and a captivating lecturer. Recently, Maureen has been concentrating on writing, speaking and teaching, as well as working on her award-winning weekly podcast, “The Health and Humor Show.”

Lauren Harris-Pincus, MS, RDN is a nutrition communications specialist, registered dietitian in private practice, social media consultant, speaker, spokesperson and corporate consultant. She is currently the owner of Nutrition Starring YOU, LLC and Lauren strongly believes that we should “Think Healthy, not Skinny”, and “EveryBODY is unique, your diet should be too”. Lauren was co-host of the Family Food Experts Kitchen radio show, available for listening on iHeart Radio and iTunes. Also known as one of the “NutritionBabes”, Lauren co-founded, a popular Health and Wellness website in 2009. was voted one of Healthline’s Top 100 Health Blogs in 2011, 2012 and 2013.

Mark Heyman, PhD, CDE is a clinical health psychologist and the director of the Center for Diabetes and Mental Health (CDMH). In addition to treating patients with type 1 and type 2 diabetes, Dr. Heyman provides training for health care providers on how to identify and address the emotional and behavioral aspects of diabetes in their patients. He also works with pharmaceutical and medical device companies to help them understand these issues and incorporate this information into their sales, marketing, and patient education materials. He is particularly interested in empirically supported behavioral interventions that promote behavior change and improve physical and mental health in people with diabetes.

Katie Ferraro, MPH, RD, CDE is a nationally-recognized registered dietitian, certified diabetes educator and author with an expertise in nutrition communications and curriculum development. She is the co-author of “Diet Therapy in Advanced Practice Nursing” (McGraw Hill, 2014) and an Assistant Clinical Professor of Nutrition at the University of California San Francisco and University of San Diego’s graduate schools of nursing.

Dr. Beverly S. Adler, PhD, CDE (aka “Dr. Bev”) is a clinical psychologist and certified diabetes educator, author and speaker. She specializes treating the emotional issues of people with diabetes. In her private practice, she provides individual, family and/or group therapy utilizing a cognitive behavior therapy orientation, combined with a spiritual approach. Her goal is to empower her patients to manage their diabetes.

Dr. Bev is the author of two self-help diabetes books. She has written numerous articles which are published in print and online – always focused on diabetes from the emotional perspective. She also speaks to audiences of people living with diabetes, as well as, to audiences of healthcare professionals and diabetes educators. Dr. Bev, herself, has been living successfully with type 1 diabetes for 40+ years.

In August 2016, Dr. Bev was honored to receive the “CDE Entrepreneur of the Year” Award from her Metropolitan NY Association of Diabetes Educators.

Jill Weisenberger, MS, RDN, CDE, FAND is an internationally recognized nutrition and diabetes expert with more than two decades experience. Through writing, speaking and one-on-one coaching, Jill empowers people to grab control of their health. She has worked as both a nutrition counselor and a diabetes educator in the hospital and research settings, and now in private practice in Newport News, VA. Jill is known for her practical approach and caring attitude. Her no-nonsense strategies to eating well include foods that both taste good and are good for you.

Marlene Koch (pronounced ‘cook’) is a nationally recognized nutritionist, popular TV personality and New York Times bestselling author. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from UCLA with a Bachelor’s degree in Nutritional Science. She is a registered dietitian and one of a select group of dietitians to hold an advanced certificate in Child and Adolescent Weight Management from the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics.

Marlene has taught professional chefs from the American Culinary Federation the principles of healthy cooking and eating. She has been adjunct Nutrition professor and cooking instructor for Columbus State College and the Columbus State Culinary Academy, and she is a nationally recognized expert in weight loss, diabetes, child and adolescent nutrition, and sugar substitutes.

Marlene has sold over one million cookbooks, and is a regular guest on QVC.

Barbara Ruhs – MS, RDN is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and owner of Neighborhood Nutrition LLC, a consulting firm focused on providing solutions to help food companies and supermarkets improve consumer health & wellness. She’s a former supermarket dietitian and has run a successful business for 17 years. A leader in the field of nutrition, her mission is to help people by impacting the way food is produced, marketed and sold. She’s a strong advocate for supermarket dietitians and believes the retail food industry has the greatest potential to impact public health.

Cheryl Orlansky has over 25 years of experience in health promotion and chronic disease prevention and management. Her first career as a registered dental hygienist led her towards a path of wellness and nutrition! Her expertise is in diabetes, weight management and cardiovascular disease for individuals and groups. She works in a large private practice including endocrinology, internal medicine, rheumatology, neurology and sleep medicine. She is an award winning dietitian with current leadership positions in state and local dietetics organizations.

She has been interviewed and quoted in media outlets for WebMD, Atlanta Sports and Fitness, Georgia Public Broadcasting, and the Atlanta Journal and Constitution. She has partnered with V-103 Radio to lead supermarket tours as part of a community outreach during National Nutrition Month.

Cheryl helps her clients reach balance through lifestyle choices: cooking and eating, activity and purpose in life.

Jackie Newgent, RDN, CDN, is a registered dietitian nutritionist and classically-trained chef. With a passion for helping people (including her father) with diabetes, she’s author of The With or Without Meat Cookbook: The Flexible Approach to Flavorful Diabetes Cooking and the award-winning The All‐Natural Diabetes Cookbook, both published by the American Diabetes Association. Jackie is also author of 1,000 Low-Calorie Recipes and Big Green Cookbook. Her next book, The All-Natural Diabetes Cookbook—2nd Edition, was published in 2015.

Nutritionist Rania Batayneh, MPH is the author of the best-selling book, The One One One Diet. She holds a master’s degree in public health nutrition from the University of Michigan School of Public Health and is also a Wellcoaches Certified Health and Wellness Coach endorsed by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM).

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