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Diabetes Prevention Builds Accountability Among Family

By Ian Rollins

When Sherm Sallee’s doctor asked if he was watching his carbohydrates, he replied, “Sure. I watch the maple bar all the way to my mouth.”

Since receiving a diagnosis of pre-diabetes and taking the Diabetes Prevention class at Samaritan Lebanon Community Hospital, Sherm has taken the maple bars just about completely out of his diet.

“I’ve learned this is a long-term thing,” he said after taking the class. “You need to stay educated and aware about what you eat, and you need to stick with it.”

He took the class with his wife Fay, her brother Jim Udell and his wife Linda. While Jim also has pre-diabetes, Fay and Linda do not. They chose to take the class to learn how to better manage their health.

Jim said he was diagnosed with pre-diabetes after quitting smoking and gaining 100 pounds. “I liked the Diabetes Prevention class because it concentrates on watching your fat intake and cutting down on calories,” he said.

The hospital’s Diabetes Education team offers the free eight-week Diabetes Prevention class throughout the year. Topics include weight loss, healthy eating, exercise and other lifestyle changes that will help people avoid a diagnosis of diabetes.

“The instructors are wonderful,” Jim said. “They come with a lot of helpful information and recipes. One class, they brought in chocolate made with black beans. It was pretty good!”

The class has led the Udells and Sallees to make healthy changes, and they’ve also developed  relationship of accountability. The couples get together each Wednesday morning for coffee and a weight check.

“We did a weigh-in at the start of each class, and we decided we wanted to keep doing it after the class was done,” Sherm said. “We’re also writing down our fat intake in grams, so we know exactly how much we’re eating.”

The couples report good results so far. “I’ve lost enough weight that I don’t need my heartburn medication anymore,” Fay said. “I’m also swimming three days a week and walking on the treadmill the other four days.”

“I’ve learned that you don’t really need salad dressing,” Linda said. “I just dip my fork in the dressing, and then I take a bite of salad. The small amount of dressing on my fork is all I need for the flavor.”

Would they recommend the class to others? Absolutely, they said.

“There’s a lot of encouragement from the instructors and a lot of sharing between everyone in the class,” Sherm said. “Each hour of the class goes by pretty fast.”

New classes begin regularly.  Anyone diagnosed with pre-diabetes or a similar metabolic condition is invited to register by calling 541-451-6313.