Why The Language We Use Around Diabetes Is Important
Learning the lingo around diabetes is essentially learning a new language. There are brand new terms, verbs that don’t exist in other places, and words that mean entirely different things to the rest of the world (how many times have you said “I’m high” and gotten strange looks?) And once we get comfortable with it, we tend to use the same words & phrases over and over again, without realizing how they might be somewhat problematic. The words we use to talk about diabetes are important! They have the potential to affect how we think about diabetes, how we feel about it, and how we take care of ourselves. Below are a few examples of ways we can shift our language:
Test Blood Sugar —> Check Blood Sugar
This may seem like a very simple change, however for many people the word “test” brings up a lot. Test implies that there is some kind of right/wrong or pass/fail situation. This can become stressful when you think about how many times per day this situation comes up, and the result is not what you expected… Add in some burnout on top of the pressure of multiple tests per day and you’re bound to get some resistance to checking sugars at all. A simple switch to the word “check” can lift some of that pressure and create a more neutral situation in which someone may be more willing to actually check their sugar.
Diabetes Control —> Diabetes Management
As much as we love to think this disease is predictable, the reality is that control is virtually impossible. And honestly, what does control even mean? When I ask clients this, I often get answers that not only highlight their perfectionism, but also the ways in which they are constantly feeling at war with their bodies. Replacing “control” with “management” helps to shift the focus to self care, and how we are connecting with our bodies.
Good & Bad Blood Sugar —> High, Low, & In Range Blood Sugar
Good and bad imply morality. You are not good or bad because your blood sugars happens to be high, low, or in range. Some of you are probably like “duh, Lauren, I know that!” But honestly, take a look at how you talk about diabetes. You might conceptually understand that you are not legitimately a bad person because your blood sugar was high, but if you’re constantly feeling shitty about yourself for out of range BGs or rating your days as good or bad based on how much of the day you spent in range, it might be time for a shift in your language. Additionally, it’s important to note here that this convo is possibly even more important in kiddos. They don’t necessarily have the mental capacity to understand that “your blood sugar is bad” is not the same thing as “you are bad”.