I suffer from adult onset diabetes. Adult onset diabetes usually occurs as you approach middle age and you gain weight as well as reduce your fluid intake and fail to exercise. In my research something that has come to my attention is the aspect of “culture and diabetes.” In other words how much does what we are, how we were raised, our religious beliefs, or our cultural beliefs affect our diabetes? This is not confined to adult onset diabetes nor is it confined to diabetes; culture can affect most any illness.
Things we can look at when we are assessing our problem of diabetes are food, family events, special foods and religious practices.
Consider this: Everyone comes from somewhere. Every culture has special foods that they eat. Many cultures developed food that was tasty but was made from cheap and easily obtainable food. That does not necessarily mean it is good for you.
If I use myself as example we can see how these things come in to play.
First of all I am of German-Polish heritage. As a child since the age of two I was fed sausages and hamburger including raw hamburger. That’s right, German’s do eat raw hamburger sandwiches. To make matters worse my grandfather worked in a stockyard. Also such things as cheese, potatoes and rich breads have been part of my diet. Is it surprising that I have medical problems not to mention high cholesterol?
Additionally, my wife is of Irish heritage. Therefore, a holiday like St. Patrick’s Day is important and so we might eat something like corned beef which is not especially good for you either.
Consider religious practices where someone might fast, this may be a long or short-term fast. Either way one must consider the impact that no food would have on a diabetic and possibly some other conditions.
The issue is our belief system, whether it is because of family, specific food, or spiritual practices, plays a major role in not only who we are but in our illnesses. It plays a role in causing our illnesses or affecting an illness.
What can we do?
It is necessary to understand that health must come first. We honor no one if we fast and die and leave responsibilities on earth. Further, often we use religious practices as well heritage to beg off doing what we know we should do.
Speak with our doctor who will send us to a dietician. Then we must exercise.
What it is important to remember as you live your life is that your culture plays a role and you should keep an eye on it.
“Culture and Diabetes,” Article, “Diabetes and You,” HHMI Holiday Edition, Winter-2009-2010