According to the Centers for Disease Control, 37.3 million people have diabetes.
The Nueces County Public Health District and Texas A&M Coastal Bend Health Education Center currently offer free diabetes self-management classes.
The diabetes self-management classes explain how diabetes affects the body and what behavior and lifestyle changes you can make to keep it under control. The classes are offered in Corpus Christi, Kingsville, Lake Jackson and Victoria to meet the needs of South Texas, and they’re free.
“We teach people how to live healthy with diabetes, prediabetes," said Juanita Garcia, Program Manager.
Certified diabetes care and education specialist Juanita Garcia said the classes go over blood glucose monitoring, carbohydrate counting, meal planning, how to read food labels, medication and insulin administration, and exercise.
“In class, we have a video called walking your pounds away. So we only walk for 15 minutes. A lot of the people that come to our class are not very active, so it’s a very low impact, so we just walk in place for 15 minutes and they can see how their blood sugars drop," said Garcia.
Classes are offered as one full day starting at 9:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. or four weekly sessions for two hours during the evenings. And the classes are available in English or Spanish.
Pastor Ely Perez of Bridgeway church said he began classes at the end of January when he received shocking news from his doctor.
“And when I go see the doctor, she says Ely you have an 11.7 A1C and your sugar is 252, you need to get on insulin right now, or you’re going to die," said Pastor Perez.
According to the American Diabetes Association, if your average blood sugar level for the past two to three months, also called an A1C level is between 5.7 and less than 6.5%, your are in the prediabetes range. And if you have an a1c level of 6.5% or higher, you are in the diabetes range.
“Mine was at 252, and my A1C was 11.7, that is horrible numbers," said Pastor Perez.
Perez said he knew right then and there, he needed to make a change. He and his wife enrolled into the class, changed their eating habits, and made a commitment to live healthier.
“It was incredible; in 90 days, I lost 50 pounds," said Pastor Perez.
“So that kind of inspires them, to start being active, and being healthier, and managing their diabetes," said Garcia.
Pastor Perez said taking the class was more than just losing the weight.
“It’s staying focused, you see your children, you see your spouse, you see your grandchildren, that has to be your motivation," said Pastor Perez.
If you would like to sign up for the class, you must pre-register by calling the Coastal Bend Health Education center at 866-524-1408.