4/09/19

Koester’s key to success: Make simple changes that matter

In October, Candace Koester, 66, of Rantoul, was preparing for a new phase in life – retirement. After 33 years of supporting University of Illinois departments, she was ready. Or so she thought. A phone call brought unwelcome news.

“I had been pre-diabetic for years, but I didn’t take it seriously. Now, it’s real. I was shocked. I was angry, hurt. It wasn’t sinking in still because I ‘felt’ fine,” she said.

Despite feeling fine, she needed help. First, she connected with diabetes nurse educator Angela Larson, MSN, RN, and dietitian Martha Trenkamp, RDN, CDE. Simple changes yielded big effects. Eat healthier and get exercise. She lost 32 pounds in four months and improved her blood sugars from 8.7 to 6.6.

Tools she and thousands of others access through interactive group sessions, a consultation with a diabetes nurse educator and a registered dietitian, make up Carle’s Diabetes Education Program. Check with your health insurance provider about your coverage for diabetes care and education.

Carle offers numerous resources for diabetes education, including the annual community diabetes event Type 1, Type 2, Type You. The event is free and open to anyone, regardless of where they receive care. This event made possible by Carle Center for Philanthropy.

Year-round offerings include support groups and the region’s only American Diabetes Association (ADA) recognized Diabetes Education Program.

“The program offers skills to help people lead a healthy life and have ownership over their disease,” Trenkamp said. “Early intervention and education can make a big difference in controlling diabetes and minimizing complications from the disease.”

Recognized by ADA and Medicare as providing the highest standard of care, Carle locations in Champaign, Danville, Effingham and Mattoon offer the service, which provides individual assessments and patient centered education to more than 2,000 patients each year.

“We start with ways to control their disease and address the specific patient’s needs including blood glucose monitoring, administering medication, stressing the importance of exercise and implementing dietary guidance,” Trenkamp said. “They set goals, and we provide tools and support to help them achieve them.”

Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to complications including heart disease, blindness or kidney disease. With nutrition and education, patients are more likely to ward off or prevent these diseases.

Koester wanted to avoid these complications, and with ongoing support and monitoring her progress, she’s on her way.

“There’s instant help. The team is always an email or phone call away with helpful answers and resources,” said Koster, adding the in-person classes, “are a relaxed, small size with a variety of people at different stages who bring different perspectives and experiences.”

For Koester, an online food log guides her discussions with her nutritionist.

“For breakfast I was having two eggs, and she recommended cutting back to one and adding egg whites. Cuts the fat in half and doubles the protein and still tastes the same, and it’s better for me,” said Koester. “Now I’m back to eating whole wheat bread. I found a brand I enjoy with low calories and high fiber. Finally, I’m adding raspberries which are really good and more veggies since I had been lax.”

Real-world eating tips make a difference.

“If I’m somewhere and want something, I eat it. I know I can still have treats and sweets if I want them. I just have to figure it in with my day,” she said. “Early on I decided to not consider this a diet. I work on making changes that I can live with, and work around every day. This is for the rest of my life!”

With her diabetes under control, Koester is refocusing on retirement, taking advantage of SilverSneakers® and “thinking about clearing out the closet.”

For information on Carle's diabetes program, call (217) 365-2853.