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A group of friends talking at dinner with one woman looking upset.

Navigating Social Gatherings, Food, and Relationships With T2D

My daughter turned 9 years old recently, and as I cut her birthday cake and offered pieces to the adults, one of the younger kids said quite loudly, "My mom isn't allowed to eat that!"

The child's mom, a friend of mine who lives with type 2 diabetes, replied, "Thanks, honey, but you don't need to share that with other people."

Type 2 diabetes and social gatherings

After handing out the cake, I talked to my friend for a few minutes about her daughter's comments. She was unfazed. Her daughter is only 4 years old.

My friend said she doesn't find it difficult to stay away from foods she's doesn't include in her regular diet. So her social life and relationships didn't feel overly impacted by type 2 diabetes, which I was glad to hear.

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Hearing from our diabetes community

This interaction immediately reminded me of some comments on a recent discussion on the Type 2 Diabetes Facebook page. We asked: "Oftentimes, our social lives can involve food. How does diabetes impact your relationships?"

Maintaining relationships

Based on the comments on the Facebook post, many people struggle with maintaining relationships and enjoying social events involving food. If you refrain from attending events, even a dinner with friends, because of concerns about what you'll eat or how you'll be perceived, friendships and other relationships may erode over time.

Addressing comments

On the other hand, if you participate in many social activities to keep relationships alive and well, you might get comments or questions that make you feel embarrassed, isolated, or even angry, which can also impact the quality of your relationships.

Helpful tips to manage social activities and diabetes

Here are some ideas for keeping both your social life and relationships thriving. It is possible to stay on track with your diabetes management and enjoy social activities!

Prepare for events in advance

If you're going to a party, ask the host what they're serving or bring a healthy and satisfying dish you can eat.

If you're going to a restaurant, read the menu online and decide ahead of time what you'll be eating (and not eating)! You can also keep a supply of snacks on hand if there's nothing you can or want to eat. Alternatively, you can eat before you attend an event.

Decide on your comfort level when sharing information

If you don't want others to know about your type 2 diabetes, ask anyone who knows to keep that information confidential. If anyone questions you or pressures you to eat something you don't want to, it helps to have a prepared response. Something like "No thanks, I'm watching what I eat," or "None for me, thanks!"

Be transparent about your diabetes

If you do feel comfortable, let others know you'll need certain foods to be available on the menu and suggest the restaurant you'll all enjoy. Let people ask you questions and share your experiences, as it might make you feel closer to others. Maybe people will be able to support you better.

Set your boundaries

If someone starts to shame you about what you're eating, you must be prepared with a swift response. Anything from "I appreciate your concern, but I've got it handled" to "What I eat is none of your business, but thanks" works fine.

If you don't set boundaries, you might feel alienated and irritated and stop attending events altogether in the future. With some preparation and choices about your comfort level, you can continue to have a satisfying social life!

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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