14 Ways to Learn About Diabetes
These books offer a wealth of info for newbies and veterans alike
American Diabetes Association Guide to Raising a Child with Diabetes by Jean Betschart Roemer, MN, MSN, CRNP, CDE (2011, American Diabetes Association)
Living with type 1 diabetes for 45 years and raising three kids has made Jean Betschart Roemer, a diabetes educator, the kind of expert who knows diabetes facts and figures and also understands the everyday challenges that come with the condition. Along with basic information about diabetes management, this book tackles topics such as coping with the diagnosis and encouraging kids to cooperate in their care. Sections on listening to kids’ feelings regarding their diabetes and tips for divorced parents of a child with diabetes are particularly helpful.
The Newly Diagnosed
The Diabetes Answer Book: Practical Answers to More Than 300 Top Questions by David K. McCulloch, MD (2008, Sourcebooks)
David McCulloch’s book contains a ton of useful information about diabetes, but the way it’s presented—in question-and-answer format—makes this book especially readable. The setup makes for easy skimming. Questions range from the typical (“What are ketones?”) to the interesting but not often asked (“Can people who don’t have diabetes get hypoglycemia?”), and many are topics missing from other diabetes books.
The First Year: Type 2 Diabetes: An Essential Guide for the Newly Diagnosed by Gretchen Becker (2006, Da Capo Press)
Gretchen Becker, who was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes nearly two decades ago, takes the stress out of learning about the complex condition. Instead of asking readers to devour 300 pages of facts and insight directly after diagnosis, she breaks the book into manageable sections, leading readers day by day, week by week, and month by month. The book offers an in-depth discussion of type 2 diabetes, yet its short chapters and easy-to-understand prose make this an accessible read. Note: Becker is not a health care professional, so consider the book as a helpful (and well-researched) guide from a patient’s perspective.
Think Like a Pancreas: A Practical Guide to Managing Diabetes With Insulin by Gary Scheiner, MS, CDE (2012, Da Capo Press)
It’s clear from Gary Scheiner’s thorough explanation of diabetes and insulin that he spends his life as a diabetes educator. Also evident: his personal connection to the disease. Scheiner, who was diagnosed with type 1 in 1985, writes as a compassionate friend who understands that diabetes can be a “general pain in the neck.” “But let’s be realistic,” he writes. “With so many variables and factors influencing blood sugar levels, you are going to experience your share of both high and low readings.” With the author’s amiable voice and reasonable take on diabetes management, this is a far cry from a stuffy disease book.
Insulin Pumps and Continuous Glucose Monitoring: A User’s Guide to Effective Diabetes Management by Francine R. Kaufman, MD, with Emily Westfall (2012, American Diabetes Association)
Kaufman’s guide to insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitors is comprehensive in just 190 pages. The book is an invaluable resource for people starting out on a new device, though it’s worth noting that it’s heavy on pump information, with only two chapters devoted to CGMs. Its in-depth discussion of what pumps and CGMs are, including their parts and functions, makes it also a useful read for people searching for information about the technology before purchasing.
Diabetes Burnout: What to Do When You Can’t Take It Anymore by William H. Polonsky, PhD, CDE (1999, American Diabetes Association)
Tired, frustrated, and otherwise fed-up people with diabetes will find real help in this essential guide to the mental aspects of their condition. William Polonsky is a leading expert on the emotional repercussions of diabetes, and in this book he takes on depression, denial, stress, fear, feelings of unfairness, and how to cope with each. Polonsky is not preachy—consider the chapter title “Ten Good Reasons to Hate Blood Glucose Monitoring (and What to Do about Them)”—but uses people’s stories, worksheets, and an understanding tone to help readers overcome emotional barriers to good diabetes care.
The Smart Woman’s Guide to Diabetes: Authentic Advice on Everything from Eating to Dating and Motherhood by Amy Stockwell Mercer (2012, Demos Health)
Freelance writer Amy Mercer approaches diabetes and womanhood from a personal standpoint: She was diagnosed with type 1 at 14 and has managed it while doing her own dating, marrying, and giving birth to three sons. The book takes a similar journey, from adolescence to adulthood and covering female-specific topics such as menstruation, body image, and pregnancy. Mercer’s personal experiences mix with advice from countless women with diabetes to make reading this informative book a bit like chatting with friends. (Because Mercer isn’t a health professional—though she’s interviewed many for the book—consider this friendly, if not necessarily medically reviewed, information.)
Diabetic Athlete’s Handbook: Your Guide to Peak Performance by Sheri Colberg, PhD (2009, Human Kinetics)
Jam-packed with useful information, this is a definitive guide to exercising with diabetes. Amateur athletes will learn basic fitness principles, such as interval exercises, heart rate training zones, and exactly how workouts affect blood glucose levels and insulin or oral medication needs. Sheri Colberg, an exercise physiologist who was diagnosed with type 1 at age 4, speaks to seasoned athletes, too, getting into the nitty-gritty of blood glucose management during extended workouts. A sizable portion of the book focuses on specific activities, including offbeat sports such as ballroom dancing and fencing.
Sex and Diabetes: For Him and For Her by Janis Roszler, RD, CDE, LDN, and Donna Rice, MBA, BSN, RN, CDE (2007, American Diabetes Association)
Doctors aren’t known for broaching the topic of sex with patients, which is a shame considering diabetes can play a major role in a person’s sexual functioning. The book, which delves into both the physical and emotional ways diabetes can affect a person’s sex life, will be especially beneficial to those silently struggling with sexual dysfunction. Much of the book is devoted to constructive ways couples can reignite their sex life, and a short chapter includes recipes made with foods thought to be edible aphrodisiacs.
Type 2s With Food Worries
What Do I Eat Now? A Step-by-Step Guide to Eating Right with Type 2 Diabetes by Patti B. Geil, MS, RD, FADA, CDE, and Tami A. Ross, RD, LD, CDE (2009, American Diabetes Association)
It’s one of the first thoughts people newly diagnosed with diabetes ask: What on earth do I eat now? The authors’ answer is easy to understand and covers topics such as the role carbohydrate, portion size, and snacking play in blood glucose control. The breezy chapters—packed with charts, lists, and diagrams—make learning about nutrition labels, menu planning, smart shopping, and eating out less complicated. Practical tips will help readers put the information into practice, and end-of-chapter recipes are a nice bonus.
Parents of Teens and Tweens
Raising Teens With Diabetes: A Survival Guide for Parents by Moira McCarthy (2013, Spry Publishing)
Other diabetes guidebooks for parents of children with diabetes are useful, but none tackle adolescent needs quite like Moira McCarthy’s. The author isn’t a health expert (though the book was reviewed by both a pediatric endocrinologist and a pediatric psychologist from the Baylor College of Medicine) but draws from personal experience—her daughter, Lauren, was diagnosed at 11. McCarthy speaks with a voice that’s open, honest, and often hilarious (case in point: her story about her older daughter’s first brush with puberty). Without focusing on the basics of diabetes management, the book addresses concerns such as how puberty can affect blood glucose levels, dealing with mood swings of the hormone and blood glucose variety, social situations, family dynamics, and school safety. McCarthy doesn’t shy away from tougher issues either, writing in her no-nonsense tone about sex, drugs, alcohol, lying, rebellion, and depression.
The Book of Better: Life With Diabetes Can’t Be Perfect. Make It Better by Chuck Eichten (2011, Three Rivers Press)
The beautiful design and stellar illustrations are reason enough to pick up this book, but the no-nonsense writing is captivating, too. With self-deprecating humor, Chuck Eichten, a Nike designer (and not a medical expert), uses his experiences as a person with type 1 diabetes to explain the ins and outs of the disease and coax readers into being not perfect in their diabetes care, but better than they are now. Because Eichten is a realist, commiserates with readers, and is consistently funny, it’s easy to like him.
Cheating Destiny: Living With Diabetes by James S. Hirsch (2006, Mariner Books)
Journalist James S. Hirsch takes on the diabetes epidemic from a personal standpoint, and the result is a powerfully moving account of his life with diabetes (he, his brother, and his son all have type 1) and the disease’s impact on the United States. Hirsch hooks readers from page one with an urgent and emotional account of his son’s diagnosis. Solid reporting and skillful writing bring to life issues of ethnicity and diabetes risk, the health care system, research obstacles, and even health care in prisons. Hirsch’s take is refreshingly candid, particularly when speaking about the down-and-dirty business behind the research, frustrations with the race for the cure, and the problems with pay-for-performance health care. With passion and insight, Hirsch writes a readable book about the reality of diabetes in America and the trials and tribulations of the disease at home, ultimately assuring readers that they are not alone.
Diabetes Rising: How a Rare Disease Became a Modern Pandemic, and What to Do About It by Dan Hurley (2011, Kaplan Publishing)
The diabetes epidemic takes center stage in science journalist Dan Hurley’s important account of the rise in diabetes from ancient times to modern day. Though Hurley, who’s had type 1 diabetes since he was 18, packs the pages with facts pulled from academic research and interviews with the top minds in the country, he breathes life into staid topics. The people he’s met color the research with personality and make this enthralling and sometimes heartbreaking book hard to put down.