Happy Valentine’s Day! I wanted to take this day to discuss a subject that is near and dear to my heart. I am a Registered Dietitian and, yes, nutrition is a love of mine. However, I would have to say that my true passion lies in helping those who have diabetes live healthier and happier lives.
Chances are that you have a family member, friend or at least know of someone who has the diabetes. In the past 25 years, the rate of diabetes in the United States has more than tripled. Currently, 21 million, or seven percent of the U.S. population has this chronic disease (Source: NIDDK).
People who happen to have diabetes should not be called “diabetic”. In contrast, they should be referred to as “having diabetes”. It really makes me cringe when I hear an individual being identified as “the diabetic”. I hear it in both the lay as well as health care settings. It is especially displeasing when I hear it used in the medical community. Coming from a professional perspective, this is awful. People with diabetes are people. They are people who just happen to have diabetes.
It’s not about being politically correct. It’s about semantics. We need to consider the person. They are much more than their disease. As the wife of someone who has diabetes, it makes me even more upset. John is not a “diabetic”. John is a person — a wonderful person who lives a healthy, full life and has many different interests and hobbies. He just happens to have diabetes. John says it does not bother him to be called “diabetic”. “That’s what I am”, he will say. But, he does think it’s peculiar and amusing to call an object “diabetic” such as “diabetic yogurt”, “diabetic socks” or “diabetic shoes”. “The shoes don’t have diabetes”, he will say jokingly.
The term “diabetic diet” is even no longer used. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) eliminated the use of the terms “Diabetic Diet” and “ADA Diet” over ten years ago. They stated that there is no one diet for people with diabetes and that meal plans need to be individualized.
In that same sense, people with diabetes are individuals — individuals who happen to have diabetes. Please call them by their names and not a disease.
It’s Your Health. It’s Your Life. Make that change!