What Is the Best Diabetes Support Group?
Getting an initial diagnosis of diabetes (whether Type 1, Type 2, gestational, or other) can be a pretty traumatic experience. Many healthcare providers will refer you to a diabetes class or a diabetes nutritionist which will serve, at least temporarily, as a support group. But once those classes are over, or whenever you get your blood sugar down to a level that your healthcare provider deems acceptable, you’re on your own.
Even if you find a local in-person diabetes support group, chances are they will be based on a traditional ADA (American Diabetes Association) approach which may or may not meet your personal dietary lifestyle choice. For instance, you might wish to eat vegan or low-carb high-fat. While the ADA gives lip service to accommodating vegetarians, vegans, and low-carbohydrate patients, they don’t really give you many helpful details on how to go about implementing it. Most in-person support groups are associated with a hospital or medical center and you must be, or have been, a patient there in order to attend the group.
Just the fact that you are reading this article online means that you have internet or smartphone access and can, in theory, find online diabetes support groups. And there are some, but many are sketchy and not very active. Most are pretty general and present a lot of conflicting information posted by a wide spectrum of group participants. The most active and focused support groups, by far, are those found on Facebook. And even Facebook has a wide spectrum of support groups among those designed specifically for diabetics, ranging from vegan to omnivore, and from ketogenic to those blatantly promoting a “starch solution.”
Most Facebook diabetes support groups are focused on a specific approach to diabetes management, such as (1) low-carb high-fat moderate-protein, (2) low-carb high-protein moderate-fat, (3) high-carb low-fat vegan, (4) vegetarian, (5) ketogenic, or (6) ADA-compliance. Or they are focused on a specific program, such as Weimar’s NEWSTART, John McDougall and “Forks Over Knives,” Dr. Ron Rosedale and the “Rosedale Health Plan,” Dr. Eric Westman’s “HEAL Clinics,” Dr. Richard K. Bernstein’s “Diabetes Solution,” or any number of the ever-growing-in-popularity ketogenic groups. All of these groups are very good in providing information about their specific focus. If information is what you are seeking. (And I’m deliberately not putting in hyperlinks to these programs. If you are interested in any specific one(s), you are free to Google.)
Many of these groups are also very good in providing support and affirmation for those who are strictly following their recommended protocols. But many can be critical and hateful toward anyone who does not. So if you join any of these groups, be sure to read their Group Description before venturing to make any comments. If you join a vegetarian group, do not talk about or post pictures of meat. If you join a low-carb or ketogenic group, do not share recipes containing grains, legumes, and fruit. Just “listen” and learn. Ask questions and even ask for links to documentation, but do not attempt to argue or to present opposing viewpoints.
However, if you don’t know what approach you need to be taking for your diabetes (and other possible health challenges you may have), and if what you need is information about all of the options and support for your journey, no matter what it is, there are very few groups that will meet that need. At the time of this writing, I know of only two (2) such groups, and both exist for the purpose of generating revenue for their endeavors. One is Dr. Brian Mowll’s “Mastering Diabetes” which offers individualized counseling for a few hundred dollars. I believe it’s legit; it’s not a scam. But it is not free. The other is the Facebook group “The Smart Diabetes 21-day Jumpstart Challenge,” which is free to join and focuses on three (3) lifestyle aspects that are essential to diabetes management, regardless of what approach you take. Those are (1) hydration, (2) green vegetables, and (3) exercise. Beyond that, they then offer—for a price—a variety of electronic “tools,” including forms, meal plans, and recipe booklets which you can buy.
At one time, this article listed a number of Facebook diabetes groups that I have joined over the years, along with my assessment of them. I no longer provide information about other groups because (a) they come and go and/or change names so rapidly I can’t keep up with them and (b) there is just no other diabetes group that provides what Adventist Vegetarian Diabetics does: support, encouragement, affirmation, and information for diabetics, pre-diabetics, those at risk for diabetics, and caretakers of diabetics, whether they are vegan, lacto-ovo vegetarian, Adventist non-vegetarians/pescatarians, or flexitarians. Members do not have to be current or former Adventists as long as they understand that Adventists historically do not eat pork and shellfish (to put it simplistically) and have a unique perspective on health based on the writings of 19th-century author Ellen G. White.
We are committed to discovering “Present Truth” in the areas of nutrition and lifestyle for diabetics, and our mantra is “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.”