LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Diabetes is a chronic condition plaguing Louisiana with one in 10 people carrying the diagnosis. Uncontrolled, it can result in amputations, stroke, even death. A diabetes management program helped one Lake Charles man transform his life and body.
Herbert Gauthier once dreaded standing on the scale, but today, 70 pounds lighter than he was in 2010, he has something to smile about. "I'm extremely proud and also, others are so proud of me that I did it all naturally," he said.
Gauthier was diagnosed with diabetes three years ago and says it was slow-going the first six months in making changes to his diet. "When they tell you, like you do with your kids, 'you can't have it,' you want to throw a little temper tantrum until you start learning how to get around that and what you can enjoy to replace that," said Gauthier.
That enjoyment came through education, given in one-on-one sessions with diabetes managers like Teresa Goree at CHRISTUS St. Patrick Hospital, as well as classes and a full circle of medical professionals. "They meet with a dietitian, we have an exercise person that teaches and we have nurses and physicians that teach as well," said Goree.
When Gauthier really plugged into the diabetes management program two years ago, he learned the importance of nutrition labels. "To read and understand the labels, not just the nutrition labels but the ingredient content of it also," he said.
He tossed out the sugary drinks, traded out processed foods for whole grain and learned a Louisiana portion size can keep your waistline growing. "If a bag of chips says 250 calories, oh well, that's not bad," said Gauthier, "but there's three servings in that bag, so you're really going over the top."
Those smaller, healthier portions helped Gauthier shed 70 pounds and avoid the complications of this progressive disease. "You're at risk for heart disease, kidney disease, blindness," said Goree, "and amputations can result with diabetes that is poorly managed."
Diabetes can be managed, but it will never go away. For Gauthier, his good habits are paying off. "Right now I'm back to eating basically everything across the board," he said, "it's not a daily issue now."
Gauthier does still check in for annual follow-ups and is now one of the speakers for the diabetes management class at CHRISTUS St. Patrick Hospital. Most diabetes management programs are covered by insurance.