We sat down with Think Whole Person Healthcare Diabetes Educator, Mary Jo Burkhardt, RN, BSN, CDE, to talk about her approach to educating her patients who live with diabetes. “I’m all about empowering my patients and instilling pride in them. Here they are, really taking control of their life and body, really taking good care of themselves.” Mary Jo uses an empathetic approach – she knows that everyone likes to eat foods that include carbohydrates – it’s natural to prefer those high-calorie foods (pizza, pasta, burgers, etc.). According to Mary Jo, her job is to individualize nutrition plans that fit into the life of her patients. That requires their honesty and her understanding. “I don’t judge my patients. We work together to create a plan that makes sure they can still eat the foods they love while staying healthy and regulating their blood sugars. When my patients follow our plan and we work together, they’re usually the healthiest eaters on the block.”
Mary Jo’s patient base consists mostly of those living with Type 2 Diabetes. Type 2 is a completely different disease than Type 1. Type 1 is an autoimmune disease in which the body can’t produce insulin, and its symptoms typically begin to appear in children. However, Type 2 Diabetes typically occurs in those 45+ who are overweight and perform little physical activity. The body still makes insulin and the symptoms are less noticeable. Over time, though, the body does make, and exercise is highly recommended to help the body continue to make insulin.
Mary Jo is excited to be part of the Think Whole Person Healthcare family, as many of the services needed by those living with diabetes are all here in one place. Think Whole Person Healthcare has podiatrists, because those living with diabetes worry about their feet due to potential complications with the disease. Think Whole Person Healthcare also has behavioral specialists, Care Coordinators, optometrists, Clinical Pharmacists, dentists and hygienists, and primary care doctors – all who are in-the-know of the patient’s health plan and particular needs, and work together to help the patient manage their health.
Watch the videos below to hear right from Mary Jo, the passionate expert about all things diabetes education and management. Need more information? Don’t hesitate to reach out to Mary Jo directly!
Here’s an additional note from Mary Jo Burkhardt about living life to the fullest during the holiday season while living with Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes:
Those living with Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes can work their favorite holiday foods into their meal plan. I encourage people to be mindful about what they are eating and to be careful to eat their favorite holiday foods only on the holiday itself – in moderation. I also stress the importance of staying on their food plan as many days a year – it’s within their power to stay as healthy as they can! I talk to my patients about how they can handle what can be many holiday parties and still stay pretty close to being on-target for their carbohydrate intake.
We discuss the importance of making sure they are exercising during this food-filled holiday time to help moderate their blood sugars with the benefits that exercise brings. If their diabetes is not in good control, they need to discuss this with their doctor or provider for a particular plan for handling the holidays.
Follow my tips to ensure that you enjoy every moment of the holidays spent with your friends and family. You can do what you love, no matter what, with our help…because Life is for Living.