Diabetes is one of the biggest health challenges of our time, with over 25 million people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and another 88 million people living with prediabetes in the United States alone. It’s the leading cause of kidney failure and the 7th leading cause of death in the United States, resulting in over 270,000 deaths each year. Diet and lifestyle modifications can help an individual prevent and even reverse pre- and type 2 diabetes.
However, traditional approaches to contain and reverse this illness are failing to work as diabetes continues to increase each year. Future trends predict 54.9 million people will have diabetes by 2030 while another 107.7 million people will have prediabetes. After spending years working with diabetes patients in clinical and outpatient settings, two diabetes coaches, Diana and Jose, grew tired of the failing system. They turned to a more innovative approach to respond to this health crisis.
Meet these two type 2 diabetes coaches: Diana & Jose
Diana became a Registered Dietitian after witnessing many of her family members struggle with chronic illnesses, especially type 2 diabetes. She learned how impactful nutrition and lifestyle could be in both the prevention and progression of diabetes. During her Dietetic Internship at UC San Diego Health, she worked at a dialysis unit and instantly knew she wanted to specialize in type 2 diabetes—a leading cause of kidney failure.
Diana earned a master's degree in Nutrition Science from Tufts University, became certified as a Registered Dietitian, then worked with patients with type 2 diabetes in various settings, including inpatient, outpatient, and private practice. After completing over 1,000 hours of diabetes-related fieldwork, Diana passed the Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist exam becoming a Certified Diabetes Educator.
Jose Tejero had a slightly different path. Initially wanting to become a physician, Jose took pre-med courses at the University of Maryland and gained experience working with physicians who used plant-based nutrition to heal chronic illnesses, including diabetes. He saw patients reverse metabolic conditions just by following a plant-based diet; and was left utterly speechless after seeing an A1c of 16% come down to 9% in less than 2 months just.
However, he changed his path after several physicians warned him about the mundane and repetitive nature of a physician’s job. He switched his major to Exercise Science and graduated as an exercise physiologist. However, his interest in plant-based nutrition persisted. After college, he worked with scientists who used plant-based nutrition to heal diabetes and became a certified plant-based health coach.
In 2019, Diana and Jose met through Instagram and quickly realized how much their mission and goals aligned—wanting to help people with type 2 diabetes using plant-based nutrition and other lifestyle modifications.
Developing an effective program with type 2 diabetes coaches
In traditional diabetes care, patients are given little education or coaching even though evidence confirms that coaching leads to much better outcomes. A 2020 literature review examined six different studies and found that incorporating coaching into treatment can significantly improve glycemic control in patients with type 2 diabetes. In one study, two groups of people with type 2 diabetes received either usual care (the control group) or usual care and health coaching. After six months, the group receiving additional health coaching had significantly lower HbA1c and improved self-efficacy when it came to their diabetes care.
Diana and Jose faced two major challenges 1) the large number of people who needed diabetes care, and 2) the lack of proper education and coaching given to those in need. While working one-on-one with patients led to positive outcomes, it wasn’t enough to reach the millions of people who needed diabetes care. After months of planning and brainstorming, the two diabetes coaches created the Reversing T2D 10-Week Program, an online, self-paced diabetes program with the potential to reach thousands. They recorded over 20 lectures covering the basics of nutrition and diabetes, including a plan for building a sustainably, healthy lifestyle. They created a community forum where people could find support, accountability, and encouragement from others going through a similar journey. They built meal plans and recipes to provide people with inspiration for healthy eating. And most importantly, Diana and Jose allowed their members to have direct, virtual access to them.
Studies show that virtual coaching leads to tremendous benefits for glycemic control, behavior change, and psychosocial support. It allows immediate support in real-time at any time of day from anywhere. Virtual coaches can address treatment barriers immediately and seamlessly. These same benefits have been enjoyed by the members of their 10-Week Program. On average, graduates of the program see a 2-3% drop in their HbA1c and reduce or completely eliminate their need for medications. They also see improvements in weight, cholesterol, blood pressure, sleep, and energy levels. With evidence that their program works, Diana and Jose are on a mission to reach and help as many people as they can. Their future plans include developing their own app and partnering with employers and insurance providers.
Reasons to join a program with diabetes coaches
- Traditional approaches lack the proper care and guidance to tackle such a complex illness like diabetes.
- Studies show that diabetes coaches, especially virtual coaches, can improve glycemic control and lower HbA1c levels in patients with type 2 diabetes.
- Diana and Jose, two diabetes coaches, grew tired of the current healthcare system which fails to properly help people with type 2 diabetes.
- They created the Reversing T2D 10-Week Program, which incorporates an online course with pre-recorded lectures, meal plans, recipes, and most importantly, coaching.