As part of my role at Diabetes Australia, I am often a media spokesperson for the organisation and will do radio or television interviews to talk about … well … diabetes. I usually step in when our CEO, Greg Johnson, is unable to do the spot, or if it is more in-line with the lived experience work that I do.

In the lead up to National Diabetes Week, I was interviewed on a program on commercial TV that airs in the middle of the day over the weekend. I spoke about NDW, gave a quick diabetes 101, answered a few questions. And responded to a segment they’d run the week earlier where they had interviewed Dr Michael Mosley, where he had spoken about intermittent fasting, the 5:2 diet, and low calorie eating for rapid weight loss as management tools for type 2 diabetes.

When asked about Mosley, I started by saying there is a growing body of evidence suggesting that rapid weight loss and/or intermittent fasting is a way that some people with type 2 diabetes have found is useful in managing their condition. (You can read my thoughts on using words such as reverse, remission or cure here.) Building on this evidence is important – and so is seeing how people are going 5, 10, 15 years down the track. Plus, it is fantastic that this is a treatment option that works for somepeople with type 2 diabetes.

I added that we need to caution suggestions this treatment is something that will work for everyonewith type 2 diabetes. Some people won’t respond to these methods, and will need other options for how to manage their own brand of diabetes. They should not be made to feel that they have failed if one treatment does not work for them.

I said all of this in about 45 seconds, and didn’t think any more of it. I walked out of the studio, climbed into the back of a cab and got on a plane to Brisbane, settling in for a week or NDW-prep and then NDW itself. I completely forgot about the segment airing until a few people had mentioned seeing it.

I still haven’t watched the whole interview, but I honestly can’t remember anything that I said that was especially offensive. The hosts and the segment producer said it had gone really well.

But clearly, there were some viewers who took objection to what I said. I know this, because my inbox and socials DMs were infiltrated with quite a few comments from people who were more than happy to tell me that I was wrong. They told me that following a similar program to Mosley had worked for them, (I am always, always happy when people find what helps), and that perhaps I should be more open minded, (I am – I just don’t believe that there is a one size fits all solution to diabetes). I was told that low carb is the only way to go and that my comments about there being no such thing as a ‘diabetic diet’ were wrong and that I was a shill for Big Food (yawn).

And then, a few people took the discussion in a direction I’d not had to deal with before, with these choice comments:

‘It’s obvious you could do with some intermittent fasting.’

‘Stop believing food companies and your own organisation and start eating low carb to manage your own diabetes because at your weight you are doing yourself harm.’

‘You are an example that dietary guidelines don’t work. If you ate low carb and fasted, you’d lose some of that excess weight.’

‘Stop listening to your dietitian and eat low carb, high fat. You’ll lose weight and won’t get all the complications that are in your future.’

‘Do you add sugar to your coffee? You mention baking cupcakes and brownies. Do you add sugar to them? Do you eat all normal foods which have sugar in them?’  

There were others. They were equally tedious, misguided and, at times, laughable. (For example, ‘my dietitian’? As if!)

Now, I didn’t at any point during the interview say that I live with diabetes. I didn’t say anything about the type of food I eat or how I manage my condition. I didn’t mention baking or drinking coffee. If you know me, you would know that I do have diabetes, bake and drink coffee. And if you don’t know me, you can find that out quiet easily. If you went looking.

It seemed that some people went looking. I didn’t know any of the names that accompanied their useful and not-asked-for counsel. I assume they didn’t come from people I know, because I don’t know too many people who would send me this sort of advice.

But these folk (there weren’t many – maybe a dozen or so) took the time to find out who I was, how to message me and then tell me that I needed to lose weight and manage my health condition differently.

Please understand that I’m not asking for positive comments or reassurance about my body or my size. I don’t want anyone telling me I am a healthy weight, that I look fine and that I didn’t deserve what I got. NO ONE – whatever their size or shape – deserves this sort of unsolicited commentary from complete and utter strangers. Or people they know, for that matter.

This is about the idea that there are people out there who, if they disagree with something someone says, or if they hear someone suggesting that people manage their diabetes in a different way, get online and insult a person they have never met before by telling them to lose weight.

I know that this is a really tiny incident. And it’s the first time it has ever happened to me. I know that there are some people who face this sort of bullshit regularly.

It is not okay. Body shaming or commenting on someone’s weight or how they look is never, ever acceptable. And tying it up by telling them they are harming their health does not make it any better.

I totally had coffee and lemon cake I baked last night for breakfast. There was sugar in both.

If you’re living with diabetes and need some body positivity (and hey, who doesn’t), here’s another plug for Body Posi Betes which you should definitely follow on Instagram right now.