Incidence rates of Type 2 diabetes have been increasing — the Center for Disease Control estimates that 29 million Americans, or 9.3 percent, have it, up significantly from the 2010 estimate of 26 million. But the disease — which results in insulin resistance, affecting the body’s ability to handle glucose in the blood — is also largely preventable; the CDC says as many as 9 in 10 cases can be prevented through increased activity, diet management and weight loss. Gritman Medical Center is aiming to help its employees and the community get ahead of the disease. Gritman Clinical Nutrition and Diabetes Care’s Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) is a year-long lifestyle change program for preventing Type 2 diabetes.
A Gritman Success Story
If you have prediabetes or risk factors, including being overweight, high blood pressure, high bad cholesterol or low good cholesterol, or family history, there is no better time to take charge of your health than now. For some people, like Gritman dietary cook Chris Grove, enrolling in a diabetes prevention program is about more than preventing Type 2 Diabetes. It means taking control of his health today to avoid problems later in life. Grove stepped on a scale and realized he needed to make a change. “It was after the holidays and I was the heaviest I had ever been,” he said. Grove had battled with his weight most of his adult life. He tried dieting in the past and successfully lost weight each time, but eventually slipped back into old habits and gained back the weight. This time, Grove focused on making small, manageable changes to his diet, such as giving up soda and sugary snacks. However, he knew he needed to do more if he was going to avoid long-term health problems. “I have a family history of diabetes. I was overweight and didn’t exercise.”
Grove answered some simple preliminary questions to help evaluate his risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, and the results placed him in the high-risk category. Instead of letting the news discourage him, Grove saw it as an opportunity to improve his health, so he enrolled in the program. “I signed up for the program knowing it would jumpstart my weight loss,” Grove said. “I gave up sweets, but needed something else to motivate me.”
Four Focus Areas
The DPP curriculum centers on four main areas of improvement: Developing better nutrition habits, increasing physical activity, environmental impact and stress management. “The class focuses a lot on problem-solving,” said Mary Skoglund, a registered dietitian nutritionist and diabetes prevention program lifestyle coach. “It’s about making a conscious effort to plan each day and keeping track of what you eat and how much physical activity you get. What’s most important is not overdoing it in any one area, but finding a balance that is sustainable.”
Grove had never considered himself much of an overeater, but he knew he made poor choices. The program requires participants to keep a daily food journal to track calories and food choices. “I was surprised to see how many calories I was eating each day. I was way over the daily recommended calories,” he said. Another benefit of the program, according to Grove, is the accountability that comes from sharing your progress with the class. At each meeting, participants share their progress and discuss temptations. “It’s nice to sit down with other people, share your experience, hear what they have to say,” Grove said. In addition to sharing ideas and learning from others in the program, DPP coaches provide ongoing support and encouragement. “They look at our food and activity journals and make suggestions. They care about our success and that helps keep me motivated and mindful of what I am trying to accomplish.”
There’s No Time Like the Present
Grove has seen his hard work and dedication pay off. “It’s been a life-changing experience,” he said. “To really sit down and really look at everything I am eating, I’ve dropped 30 pounds since this started. The program works as long as you participate.” Although increasingly common, Type 2 diabetes is not a welcome diagnosis. People who have it are more likely to suffer heart attacks, strokes and kidney failure, as well as blindness and eye problems. It weakens the immune system, slows down healing for cuts, wounds, infections, and can result in lower-limb amputation, as it affects blood circulation. If you are at risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes, there is no better time than now to make a change. Enrolling in the Diabetes Prevention Program at Gritman Medical Center can help guide you on your way to living a healthier, happy life. Visit gritman.org/dpp to evaluate your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.