Guest blog – “Number 10 – I asked for a Diet Coke!”

Diabetes UK help support the popular forum Diabetes Support which has been up and running for just over two years now. With over 3,200 members, it’s a great place to share information and meet other people, some of whom will more than likely share your experiences of diabetes.

To celebrate their second birthday, Alan (or Northener as he’s known on the site) has started a blog recounting the History of the Forum in 100 posts. We’ve very much been enjoying it and wanted to share one of the posts with you here.

Sometimes a post comes along that really strikes a chord with a lot of people, and this post, posted by Sugarbum, certainly caused a stir! What many of the general public don’t understand is the effect of full sugar coke on a diabetic person’s blood sugar levels, and this extends to many of those running and serving in pubs, clubs and restaurants, unfortunately.

The only time a person with diabetes can safely drink full sugar coke is when they are treating a hypo or when they have been able to prepare to cover the spike in levels beforehand. Therefore, to unknowingly drink it can be extremely dangerous, or at the very least make you ill by sending you up into double figures.

Thus, we all understood the anger and frustration felt when diet was asked for and the wrong version dispensed. This might sometimes be a genuine error, but anecdotal evidence has shown that it is often deliberate – even to the extent of pipes being swapped over as a ‘joke’.

The assumption of anyone who deliberately gives the wrong type seems to be that ‘it doesn’t matter’ or ‘you’re not fat, why diet?’ or maybe ‘can’t be bothered’. Whatever the reason, it is wrong, poor customer service and potentially dangerous. If someone was already quite high, but thirsty, a full sugar version would send levels even higher at the risk of potential DKA (diabetic ketoacidosis) – all because of a simple error, ignorance or carelessness.

Thus was born the DiDka campaign – or Diet Drink Awareness campaign to try and educate these establishments to train their staff appropriately. A Facebook group was launched, a logo designed and volunteers recruited to spread the word. A mass testing was organised so that we could all test out the level of error in different parts of the country, to be achieved by using diastix to test the drink ordered for sugar content. One memorable test took place at the London Forum and Circle D Meet where Becky was served the incorrect type – big mistake barman! Another issue identified was the lack of suitable drinks available for people with diabetes to drink – often the choice is diet coke or water if you don’t want the drink to affect your levels, and this lack of choice was seen a problem particularly for parents when their children didn’t like coke.

The campaign has been a little quiet of late, perhaps this reminder will nudge it back into life!

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