Health

Preventing Diabetes Leaves a Sweet Taste

Elvie Eggleston is thisclose to tasting a Sweet Victory. 

The pre-diabetic with a lifelong sweet tooth has surpassed the goals set for her in the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency’s Sweet Victory diabetes prevention program. In fact, she’s about to fit into a pair of favorite jeans she hasn’t been able to wear in years.

“I’m almost there and I finally had to wrap my head around it that, ‘yeah, I had lost weight,’” said Eggleston. “I’m not dieting though. If I say diet, I go crazy.

“Some weeks I’ll still have cake, maybe two pieces. But I count it and the next week I won’t do that,” she said. “I won’t say I’m completely off sweets, but I know those aren’t good for me.”

Eggleston has been attending the weekly classes since Sept. 30 and has lost 15 pounds. The goal of Sweet Victory is for participants to lose 7 percent of their body weight at a pace of 1-2 pounds a week.

The classes started at the perfect time for her. She had been participating in the Feeling Fit Club for four years at the George L. Stevens Center and saw a flyer for Sweet Victory one day after working out.

“My doctor had just told me I was pre-diabetic, so I said, ‘perfect! I need to take this class,’” she said. “And it has really worked out.”

Nearly 90 percent of people with pre-diabetes don’t know they have it and aren’t aware of the long-term risks to their health including Type 2 diabetes, heart attack and stroke, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC projects as many as 1 million adult San Diegans could develop Type 2 diabetes during their lifetime unless they take action to prevent it.

Research shows programs like Sweet Victory can cut the risk of Type 2 diabetes in half. HHSA’s Aging & Independence Services and Public Health Services have been teaming up to offer the program as part of Live Well San Diego.

“Research shows that an effective technique to developing healthy habits is to do it with the support of peers who are working on similar challenges,” said Kyra Reinhold, San Diego County diabetes program coordinator. “Seeing people like you succeed lets you know you can do it, too.”

Sweet Victory participants are given a 2-inch-thick binder full of resources and tools to track their progress and log their food consumption.

“I don’t have all the answers, but I have the tools,” Eggleston said. “This will be my little bible.”

The binder includes a graph of weight loss updated weekly, and her graph is going “down, down, down,” she said proudly.

“It’s a lot of work. You have to go and find out how many calories you ate and how many fat grams you’ve had for the week. You have to keep track of all of that, but I don’t mind it.”

Keeping track like that was a revelation for her. Logging what she ate exposed all her bad habits and made her determined to keep to her goals.

“I still keep like M&Ms around – something small – to get my little sugar thing, but nothing like I used to,” she said. Gone is the ritual of coffee and a cheese Danish at the coffee shop.

She recently went to the doctor for her routine checkup.

“I had my blood work done at the first of the year and my cholesterol count and my blood pressure and all those numbers went down,” Eggleston said. “I’m not out of the woods, but from the last six months, everything is down.”

More workshops will be starting in the spring. To learn more about whether you are at risk for Type 2 diabetes or to find a class near you, call (858) 495-5588 or visit www.diabetes.org.

Tom Christensen is a communications specialist with the County of San Diego Communications Office. Contact