What Does it Take to be a Diabetes “Mensch”?

Every once in a while, I will throw a Yiddish word into the mix when nothing else will do. Welcome to the word “Mensch.” Literally, it means “person,” but in reality, it means so much more. A mensch is a person who behaves in the right way, does things to help others, and earns the respect of those around him or her.

I’m in Israel right now. While hopping trains to get home from a nutrition conference, I lost my way and found myself in a very remote train station. The train platform had no map of the train lines, so I headed downstairs to see if my minimal Hebrew skills could get me some answers. Oh, I got answers, but none that made sense to me. So, I returned to the train platform and stood there for a while, trying to figure out my next move. Suddenly, a woman approached me.

“Do you need some help?” She asked in Hebrew.

“I’m trying to figure out how to get back to Jerusalem,” I answered.

“Let me go downstairs with you and help you get the information you need.” Wow, I thought to myself, I’m in the midst of rush hour and this woman is willing to take time out of her busy commute, and possibly miss her train, to help me find my way home. What a mensch!

Having diabetes can make people feel terribly lost as though they have taken the wrong turn somewhere and do not know where to go from there. At times, they may feel as if they are riding the wrong train, a ride that doesn’t involve enjoying life. Fortunately, the diabetes world is filled with people who are willing to help. If you feel confident in your diabetes care, volunteer some of your free time to help others find their way. Here are a few steps you can take to live well with diabetes by becoming a “diabetes mensch”:

  • Welcome newcomers to Internet message boards and forums.
  • Think about the healthcare providers who have helped you with your care and suggest that others connect with these types of experts in their areas.
  • You do not have to be a medical expert to offer support. Just saying that you care can mean a great deal to someone who feels lost.
  • Share the positive side of diabetes. Let others know about great products you have found, physical activities you enjoy, and personal solutions you’ve discovered.
  • Do not let angry or frustrated comments deter you. Remember how you felt once upon a time. Learning to live with diabetes is not easy.
  • Continue learning about diabetes so you can provide up-to-date suggestions.

Above all, just be yourself, share what you know, and become a diabetes mensch and help others onto the right train so they can find their way home. You never know when your help is going to be just what a person needs to feel better about their diabetes and more in control of their life.

About Janis Roszler, RD, CDE, LD/N (15 Articles)
<p>Janis Roszler, RD, CDE, LD/N is the 2008-2009 Diabetes Educator of the Year (AADE). She is also a Marriage and Family Therapist, Fellow of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, former radio show host, and award-winning medical media producer. Janis is the author and co-author of APPROACHES TO BEHAVIOR: CHANGING THE DYNAMIC BETWEEN PATIENTS AND PROFESSIONALS IN DIABETES EDUCATION (ADA, 2014), DIABETES ON YOUR OWN TERMS (Marlowe & Co, 2007), SEX AND DIABETES (ADA, 2007), and THE SECRETS OF LIVING AND LOVING WITH DIABETES (Surrey Books, 2004).</p>
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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 www.NutritionStarringYOU.com. 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 NutritionBabes.com, a popular Health and Wellness website in 2009. NutritionBabes.com 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).

OmnichannelHealth Media, publisher of DiabetesDigest.com, does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. See additional information.