Navigating Life with Diabetes: Tips from Coaches Jeri and Ty
Hey, it’s Coach Jeri! Diabetes affects millions, with the prevalence of type 2 on the rise. It’s not only a widespread issue but also the most expensive illness to treat, with potentially devastating effects like blindness, kidney problems, heart complications, and limb loss. The silver lining is that with proper treatment and lifestyle changes, a long and healthy life is possible. Given the prevalence of this diagnosis among Healthi members, Coach Ty and I want to share our personal journeys.
Coach Jeri’s Story
I got my first taste of diabetes during gestation with my first child, with a warning that it might return later in life. It wasn’t on my radar, especially after it skipped the next two pregnancies. However, my perspective shifted when my son was diagnosed with Type 1 at the age of 6, experiencing a critical situation with a blood sugar level over 750. Unlike Type 2, Type 1 is insulin-dependent, not influenced by diet or exercise, and irreversible.
Armed with insights from my son’s condition, I received a wake-up call when routine blood work revealed I was borderline diabetic, with an A1c of 6.3 (diabetic threshold is 6.4). Despite having no symptoms and being at my goal weight, the doctor mentioned the possibility of medication. I requested a chance to make lifestyle changes first, committing to return in three months. The years of unhealthy eating had taken a toll on my body.
Implementing a slightly increased exercise routine and watching my carb intake, I made changes to my diet. Prioritizing fiber-rich foods and identifying which carbs I could live without became crucial. I adopted a simple rule: one carb per meal.
Here are my tips:
- Check nutrition labels for carbs, not just sugar.
- Opt for higher fiber content.
- Prioritize which carbs you can eliminate from your diet.
Upon my return, my A1c dropped to 5.8. Over the years, I managed to lower it further, with my last check at 5.7. I achieved my goal of staying off medication, although this is a personal experience and not medical advice. My hope is that by sharing this, I can encourage others to take a proactive approach to their health and, most importantly, undergo regular check-ups.
Coach Ty’s Story
Hey, Coach Ty here! Getting diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes in January 2023 felt like a sudden halt to my world, a sense of betrayal to my own body. The doctor, while kind, didn’t hold back on the harsh realities of the illness, adding to the challenging situation. Fast forward a year, and I’ve turned things around—improved my A1C from over 11 to 5.3, become more active, and rediscovered the joy in the foods I eat.
In the early stages, I believed I had to eliminate entire food groups from my shopping list. However, a game-changer for me was learning about food pairing. This approach involves combining high-sugar-response foods with proteins, fiber, or fats to prevent or reduce sugar spikes. It allowed me to still enjoy favorites like ice cream but in a smarter way. Now, when I indulge in ice cream a couple of times a week, I pair it with proteins like hard-boiled eggs or beans and lentils.
This shift to food pairing has transformed my meals and snacks into something that feels natural and sustainable. Taking the time to understand the health benefits of my choices has been key. Every time I have berries, I see the prebiotics and vitamin C I’m providing to my body. Integrating this knowledge across all food groups makes me feel more confident about my food choices.
Throughout this journey, I’ve monitored my sugar levels to identify foods causing blood sugar spikes. Knowing this has empowered me to make informed choices, contributing to the long-term goal of lowering my A1C.
Coach Jeri sits down with Coach Ty for a Q&A: