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7 Tips to Set Boundaries With Others About Your Diabetes

Integrated Diabetes Services (IDS) provides detailed advice and coaching on diabetes management from certified diabetes educators and dieticians. Insulin Nation hosts a regular Q&A column from IDS that answers questions submitted from the Type 1 diabetes community.

Q – How should I establish boundaries to my diabetes management with those close to me?

A – Because diabetes management is often done behind closed doors, it can be hard to accept help from someone who doesn’t live with diabetes. It can also be difficult to take advice from someone who is too aggressive in giving that advice, even if it’s from family members or friends who “just want to help”. Sometimes, you need to shield yourself from this input.

At the same time, it’s good to take into account the perspectives of those around you, too. For example, if you were a child with diabetes and your parents helped you manage it, it might help to recognize that it’s hard for them to stop trying to help. Also, while the comments of those around you can feel like nagging, remember that they often come out of genuine concern.

Setting clear boundaries about your diabetes can help everyone involved. Here are seven ways you can do that:

1) Educate friends and family about the basics. Most people don’t have a clear understanding about what diabetes is, and they fill in the gaps with worry. Teaching them the basics of how diabetes works and what you are doing to stay health may help calm their fears about your choices in diabetes management.

2) Show that you appreciate their concern. It doesn’t hurt to acknowledge their concern, thank them for their help, and share with them how they can continue to support you…if and when that help is needed.


3) Tell them how they can help. Give some people defined roles for support in your management plan. They will feel like they are contributing to your health and you might benefit with their help. Also, let people know what they should do in emergency situations and what those situations look like, and it will help them worry less overall.

4) Create an inner circle. If some of your family members or friends consistently present a problem to your diabetes self-management, don’t share certain details of your health with them. With tact and respect, let them know that there are aspects of your care you don’t wish to discuss, and ask them to respect that.

5) Share how you feel. If you’re feeling frustrated with someone who constantly nags you about testing your blood sugar, tell them how it makes you feel. Perhaps have another suggestion ready of an alternative of how they can be helpful.

6) Understand there will be disagreement. You’re not going to be able to get everyone on the same page. When you end up disagreeing with someone, acknowledge their perspective, but reaffirm that you disagree and that you have to do what’s best for your diabetes self-management.

7) Don’t be afraid to reexamine your own position. Diabetes is stressful and no one is perfect, so it’s always possible that someone sees something you don’t. You don’t have to reflect on your decision in the heat of the moment, but give yourself permission to question your position when the dust settles.


Integrated Diabetes Services (IDS) provides detailed advice and coaching on diabetes management from certified diabetes educators and dieticians. Insulin Nation hosts a regular Q&A column from IDS that answers questions submitted from the Type 1 diabetes community.

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Jennifer Smith holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Nutrition and Biology from the University of Wisconsin. She is a registered and licensed dietitian, certified diabetes educator, and certified trainer on most makes/models of insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitoring systems. She has lived with Type 1 diabetes since she was a child,and thus has first-hand knowledge of the day-to-day events that affect diabetes management.

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