Kelsey Hospital, United Hospital

Health Matters: Education and healthy habits — The secret sauce to preventing and treating diabetes

Diabetes educator Bobbi Kieff

November 19, 2019

Ben Franklin’s old adage, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” seems to fit perfectly when it comes to diabetes.

About 95% of people with diabetes have Type 2 diabetes, which can be prevented by simply eating right and staying active.

However, one out of three American adults – 84 million people – have prediabetes, meaning they’re at high risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. And nine out of 10 people with prediabetes don’t know they have it. But the good news is that prediabetes can actually be reversed. In fact, you can reduce your risk of getting Type 2 diabetes in half by making small, simple steps towards being more active, losing weight and eating healthy.

And you don’t have to do it alone.

Spectrum Health United and Kelsey hospitals offers comprehensive diabetes education support with one-on-one and group programs.  Meetings and classes offer area patients and residents an array of methods and tools to empower participants to make healthy lifestyle changes.

November is National Diabetes Awareness Month –a perfect time to bring awareness about the disease and let our communities know we are only a phone call away.

It’s also important to understand the difference between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes, when your body doesn’t make enough insulin, accounts for only 5% of diagnosed cases of diabetes in adults. It can develop at any age, is often diagnosed under age 30, and there is no known way to prevent it. Type 2 diabetes is when the body can’t use insulin properly due to an unhealthy diet and little physical activity. With both types, treatment may include taking insulin, other oral medication, regularly checking blood sugar levels with a glucometer and developing healthy routines.

Prediabetes is when your blood sugar level is higher than normal, but still not high enough to be diagnosed as Type 2 diabetes, typically a blood glucose level between 100-125 milligrams per deciliter.

If someone were to tell you in five years you would be diagnosed with diabetes, would you take steps today to prevent it? The good news is that prediabetes is absolutely reversible. Prediabetes is largely caused by environmental factors such as lack of sleep, high stress, poor eating habits and inactivity. Each of these things are important to a healthy lifestyle, and we can help every step of the way.

Our diabetes education team offers free diabetes prevention classes in our Greenville United Lifestyles office every other month. We discuss goal setting, meal prepping, journaling, eating out, exercise and any challenges that come up along the way.

In addition, a more comprehensive, but still free, year-long diabetes prevention program is available where participants have goals to lose at least five to seven percent of their body weight and to exercise at least 150 minutes a week. Class members quickly bond into a group family of support and come together first weekly, then every other week, then monthly as the program progresses.

For those with diabetes, there is a series of diabetes self-management education classes offered every other month that is a covered benefit under most insurance plans. These four, approximately two-hour classes provide comprehensive diabetes education to help anyone manage their existing diabetes. Diabetes education is recommended at diagnosis, annually, when new factors influence self-management, and when transitions in care happen.

We also offer free support group classes every other month.

Medical nutrition therapy is also available for ongoing education with a registered dietician.

We recognize everyone’s experience with diabetes or prediabetes is unique, as is their home life, finances and personal support network – things that can impact their health goals.  We typically start with a one-on-one meeting to get to know and understand each person’s story, assess their current lifestyle, and discuss opportunities that will support them the best. We can also be a good liaison and advocate between patients and medical providers.

To register for any class or to get more information, please call us at 616.754.6185.

Bobbi Kieff is a diabetes educator with Spectrum Health United and Kelsey Hospitals. She has been with Spectrum Health for 14 years.

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