Friday, 9 January 2015

To Jamie Oliver

Yesterday I saw that you had posted a photo of yourself holding packets of sugar in front of a giant can that had "diabetes" written on the front of it, and I shared my angry thoughts on it on Twitter and it got 30 retweets and 24 favourites, evidently the diabetes community shared my views. I know you've received a lot of angry messages and tweets and comments all in response to your photo and I know you've tweeted that you "fully understand" why people are mad about your photo, but you'll never "fully understand" really, if you did then perhaps you would have taken the photo down...but it's still up, and it's still up there with it's 32,320 likes, 1,381 comments and 1,702 shares, it's there contributing to the stigma around diabetes, the stigma that those of us who actually have diabetes, are trying to end.

This isn't just strictly to you, Jamie, but to all of the other people who have done something similar and to raise awareness of type 1 and type 2 diabetes in general.

Here is what I have to say about your photo, the photo that I wish you would have never put up because it's offensive and it makes you almost as bad as the people on Instagram who put up photos of cakes and sweets and hashtag them with #diabetes, #imgoingtogetdiabetes, #thisisdiabetes. I have Type 1 Diabetes, I was diagnosed when I was 11 almost 12 years old on June 21st 2009, I'm now 17 years old and I've had this diabetes blog since March 2013, as you may or may not be able to tell I'm very passionate about raising awareness of this disease.

Let me tell you about type 1, I didn't get it from a can of coke. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease, my immune system killed off the insulin-producing cells in my pancreas through no fault of my own. I know the can doesn't say type 1 or type 2, but just 'diabetes' and a lot of people have responded to those of us with type 1 diabetes that have taken offence to the photo with "but the can doesn't say type 1 OR 2?" and my response? That's the point. I wish people would stop using the word 'diabetes' as an umbrella term, type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes are very different from each other.

Secondly, sugar alone doesn't even cause type two diabetes, there are other factors like genetics that cause it. In fact, fit and healthy people can develop type two, think of Sir Steve Redgrave for example- he is an Olympian, and he lives with type 2 diabetes, he's not a fat, old, sugar-consuming slob who lies on the sofa all day. So in actual fact, the can shouldn't say 'diabetes' at all. I'm all for promoting healthy eating and exercise but why is it so hard for people to do it without mentioning diabetes? I know that diet can be a contributor to type 2 but if you're going to say that then say type 2 diabetes! Don't just refer to it as 'diabetes', because that adds to people being unable to differentiate between the two diseases and thus diabetes becomes a disease for the obese, when those of us with type 1 and even some with type 2 did nothing to cause it.

It's offensive, it is so offensive to see a photo like yours, Jamie. I have to test my blood sugar 4+ times a day, and I wear an insulin pump 24/7 just to stay alive, I am dependent on insulin and I did nothing to bring that upon myself, I have type one DIABETES. I have diabetes, and when I see it sprawled over the front of a can of coke it makes me so mad. Your photo is so incredibly irritating. Also, a lot of people with type 2 didn't do anything to bring it upon themselves so they're probably equally as irritated.

If I could ask you one thing it would be please take the photo down. I am diabetic and I did not get diabetes from a can of coke. I depend on an insulin pump to live and I need to test my blood sugar daily, I have to carry various supplies like spare cannulas, glucose, injection pens, needles, and I live with the risk of getting complications like blindness, nerve damage and kidney failure, and no part of that is my own fault.

And I wish not that just Jamie Oliver understands that, but that the rest of society does too.


  1. Not too many people understand what diabetes is. From what I've read on your blog, you have some idea, but you're not quite there. You're correct; type 1 and type 2 are different, to some extent. Type 1 is categorized as an autoimmune disorder. Not everyone gets what that means. Most people think "autoimmune" means it has nothing to do with diet, but they're wrong. Most people believe type 1 diabetes has nothing to do with food, but they're wrong. I'm not saying everyone who's ever been diagnosed with diabetes ate bad food, but for the MOST part, that's how it is. Autoimmune means your body attacks itself. In this case, your body attacked your pancreas, and now the glucose in your blood has no way of entering your cells for energy. Instead, the glucose remains in your bloodstream and washes over all your organs because you lack that one important ingredient that opens your cells and allows them to take glucose in: insulin. Just attacking your pancreas does not an autoimmune disorder make! Our immune systems are governed by the food we eat. When we eat the wrong food, it weakens our defense system and damages our immune system. What's the wrong food? It's not necessarily junk food. Did you know that eating beef, pork and lamb can give you diabetes? Did you know that certain medications can trigger diabetes? Did you know that the FDA allows farmers to treat their livestock with antibiotics to make them grow quicker even though antibiotics have been linked to diabetes? Even though that Olympian you speak of is fit, it doesn't mean he eats well. I'm not saying he eats junk food, but I can bet he's eaten steak and drank milk in his lifetime. I bet he's taken medication in his lifetime. Even antidepressants have been linked to diabetes! Also, if you follow fad diets, there's a chance you'll become diabetic, because you're limiting good food, which messes up your immune system. I was on a crash diet for 9 mos. when I was 17 years old. I lost 80 lb by limiting my caloric intake. My immune system took a beating. I wasn't getting enough nutrients which weakened my defense system, and attacked my pancreas as my health deteriorated. I was open to all kinds of nasty germs, and one, a throat infection, finally did it. I've been diabetic ever since! When people say that type 1 diabetes has to do with the foods you eat, they're right. It's not just limited to the foods you eat, but the medications you take and the medications that get fed to the livestock that you consume -- and the biproducts of those animals -- as in the case of dairy. They use waste from those animals as fertilizer to grow the fruits and vegetables we eat. Even if you eat a healthful diet, you're still EATING bad things that contribute to diabetes! I'm not saying Jamie Oliver's picture was appropriate; it doesn't take all these outside factors into account. I just want you to understand that even though type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder, it still has everything to do with the foods and medications we eat. Food affects your health! The worse you eat, or when you limit your diet, or when you pop pills, you make your immune system weak and leave it susceptible to health risks. I hope Jamie Oliver reads this post. And I hope you finally come to terms with your diabetes. Diabetes is NOT the enemy. Diabetes and your pancreas got a bad rap; instead of blaming your poor immune system for doing you wrong, why not think back to what you put your immune system through. I'm not saying you did anything to hurt your immune system on purpose. But, sometimes we do things without thinking, that can wreak havoc years to come.

    1. Where exactly did you get all these 'facts' about diabetes from?

    2. If you read my blog, I have several posts about everything I mentioned and the links to all the studies. Check it out:

  2. And one more thing, please don't be mad at Jamie Oliver. He's not making fun of diabetics, so much as he's blaming Coke for contributing to diabetes. There's always 2 sides to every story.

  3. Lana Fischer, I think you need to revisit your "facts" about diabetes. I can understand Ellie's anger with Jamie Oliver, since he has such influence on what some people believe. Ellie doesn't know why her body turned on itself and destroyed her pancreas. If that were known, we'd be closer to finding the cure for this miserable disease.
    You write about your experiences with type 1 diabetes. This may be helpful to some but it is by no means the reasoning for all things diabetic. Food is not the main reason for causing type 1 diabetes. As you said, your diagnosis was caused by a virus. The main theory on the development of type 1 diabetes: "if the virus has some of the same antigens as the beta cells—the cells that make insulin in the pancreas—then the T cells can actually turn against the beta cells. The T cell products (antibodies) can destroy the beta cells, and once all the beta cells in your body have been destroyed, you can’t produce enough insulin." (
    I am the mother of a type 1 diabetic, who was diagnosed at 3 years of age. Three months before her diagnosis she had a nasty bout of the flu for a week. No heavy duty drugs were used to fight the virus. As type 1 diabetes does not show itself until the pancreas is almost completely destroyed, I agree with the theory that the virus probably caused her diabetes. My son also had the flu at the same time, but did not become diabetic. If you are saying that the dietary choices given to my toddler for the three years prior to her diagnosis are the main reason for her type 1 diabetes, then my son, husband, and I should be diabetic by now. It has been 12 years since my daughter was diagnosed and no one in our immediate or extended family has been diagnosed with any type of diabetes.
    It is all well and good to write for a blog and, just like Jamie Oliver, your "expert" opinions reach a large audience. In this age of social media having such an impact on our daily lives, people need to beware of what is fact and what is opinion--"expert" or not.