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SHEPHERDSVILLE - There are 6,314 Bullitt Countians directly affected by diabetes. Jessica Craddock, community organizer for the Bullitt County Diabetes Coalition, knows there is a prominent need for community education.
To tie in November as National Diabetes Month and World Diabetes Day Nov. 14, the coalition is highlighting a Diabetes Education Day Saturday, Nov. 10.
“That’s the reason we’re having the event the Saturday before Diabetes Day, to help raise the awareness,” Craddock said.
The free event will be hosted along with a holiday food demo at the Bullitt County Extension Office with assistance from Bullitt County CREW (Coalition for Recreation, Education and Wellness) for helping to establish the event.
Health screenings begin at 10 a.m., featuring massages, body fat analysis, blood pressure and foot exams courtesy of guest speaker Dr. Vipul Patel.
At 11 a.m., extension agent Ruth Chowning will present the food demo, focusing on making holiday foods healthier. Samples and recipes will be included.
Guests who RSVP for the event in advance will receive a free healthy lunch courtesy of Subway. To RSVP call Craddock, 930-2499.
Prizes and giveaways include a three-month membership to the Bullitt County YMCA.
Local organizations participating in the event include the YMCA, along with Bullitt County Health Department, Anytime Fitness, Hester’s Fitness, Fern Valley Chiropractic, Forever Young Chiropractic, Sanofi-Aventis and new local optometrist Tina Kreutzer, O.D..
The participating organizations help the local Diabetes Coalition raise awareness and educate the community.
“Since this county is so spread out it’s hard to get into every corner of it and get the education out there,” Craddock said.
Craddock stressed the education, noting one in 10 Bullitt Countians are Type II diabetic, developing it through their lifestyle rather than genetically.
“One out of three people are obese,” she said. “One in three have high blood pressure and are physically inactive. These things lead to Type II diabetes.”
Diabetes and accountability
Cindi Brown was diagnosed with Type I diabetes at age 5. She was told she would become a diabetic by age 30.
Type I is autoimmune; Brown was born with it, but her efforts to stay healthy and eat right led her to a healthy lifestyle past 30.
Now co-owner of Anytime Fitness in Shepherdsville, a personal trainer and a nutritionist, Brown is happy to share her success with everyone, knowing that anyone can avoid Type II.
“We’re all technically pre-diabetic,”s he said. “It takes accountability. In our society food has become a way of life. Holidays used to be times for feasts, but now it’s mundane.”
Brown blamed the “fat free” fad in the 1990s for adding to the problem.
“Fat free meant more sugar,” she said. “Sugar turns to fat, if you don’t use it for energy.”
Brown said an increase of diabetic medications such as insulin involve potential side effects along storing body fat.
“So many people take prescriptions,” she said. “As a country we treat things. We need to go back to fixing things. Doctors treat things, I prevent them. My job is to educate people.”
Brown said bad habits could be improved by self-education involving nutrition. She said a lot of issues begin with poor eating habits.
“We have become a spoiled country on fast food and pizza,” she said.
Regular exercise is crucial for maintaining metabolism and calorie burn. Brown said anyone could complete simple, inexpensive exercises like walking.
Brown advised a simple nutritional plan involving five or six small meals per day rather than the traditional three. The reasoning involved the amount of calories the human body could absorb during one meal.
“The human body uses about 400 calories per meal,” she said. “Anything above that is stored away as fat. So three meals of 500 calories means 300 calories of stored fat. But you do need to eat regularly, because too few (calories) are bad, too.”
According to Brown, watching calories is a good way to begin healthy eating habits. She suggested 1,500 calories per day for women, 1,800 to 2,000 for men.
“That’s generally a good way to start,” she said. “There will be other factors eventually. By then you’ll have to decide what’s best for you as a person.”
As a nutritionist, Brown hears clients say eating right cost too much or took too much time. Her advice was research to determine healthy options that taste good while developing a strategy to have food ready in advance.
Brown urged local residents to take advantage of events such as the Diabetes Education Day, where free information is available.
“You get more tips from knowledgeable individuals,” she said. “The county is trying to help. I want this county to be healthy,” she said.
It can be done
Shepherdsville resident Brian Walls was diagnosed with Type II diabetes five years ago. The former high school athlete saw his weight peak at 345 pounds.
Thanks to a “Biggest Loser” weight loss competition at work, Walls slimmed down to 280 with proper diet and exercise. More important, he weaning off all but one of his medications.
“I went at it full force,” he said of the competition, primarily because it involved teams and accountability. “It was mostly diet and exercise. Just changing the food and losing the weight helped (the diabetes).”
Walls implemented a phone application from myfitnesspal.com to log in what he ate and track statistical data to help control his personal diet.
“I avoid processed food,” he said. “What we put in our bodies makes a big difference. It’s amazing, until you start tracking you wouldn’t believe what you eat. That little application helped me as much as anything.”
Walls officially dropped 61 pounds, 18 percent body mass, in the competition. Meanwhile, at three-month physical check-ups his blood-glucose levels decreased, allowing for medication cutbacks.
“I used to add medications each visit,” he said. “My blood level was better so my doctor dropped one medication. Now I have one pill at night, but the other meds are off.”
At one point Walls said he fell for a “major trap” involving his physical condition and the prescribed medication.
“I went for years thinking I have diabetes and now I’m taking medication for it, so I thought if I want a piece of chocolate cake I just take more medicine,” he said.
Walls discussed strategy with his doctor, leading to taking lunch to work each day, preparing his lunch in advance based on calories, sugar and carbohydrates. He drank water for lunch each day. His daily diet plan included breakfast, snack, lunch and snack, along with two liters of water.
“You eat four or five times a day, then you’re not as hungry at dinner,” he said. It helps with night cravings. You should go to bed hungry, you’ll burn more off. It’s all about making new habits.”
Exercise was pivotal to Walls’ success. He began with a treadmill, upgrading to a recumbent bike, placed strategically in front of the television.
“I’m not running the streets at 345 pounds,” he laughed.
Walls plays video games while working out. During the Summer Olympics he rode along with the athletes. In a few months he began walking regularly through his neighborhood.
The son of a Type I diabetes patient, Walls remembered what it felt like when he learned of his own situation, a reason others should attend the diabetes event.
“That first month was tough,” he said. “You do everything the doctor said, and you have to do it all your life. You feel like you can’t enjoy. You start slipping and think that the medicine is going to take care of it. I wish I could’ve had someone talk to me about it.”