Fayetteville, Ga. (September 4, 2013) – As director of food and nutrition services at Piedmont Fayette Hospital, Keith DeMars understands the direct correlation between food and health, especially the negative effects that come with poor eating habits. It wasn’t until recently, however, that he and his wife Deanna DeMars, also a Piedmont Fayette employee, put this knowledge to practice and lost a combined 130 pounds as a result.
“I knew something had to be done when my wife and I were diagnosed with prediabetes,” said DeMars, who has lost 55 pounds. “I always wanted to lose weight but never found the right approach for me. A light bulb went off after my diagnosis and nutrition counseling led me to realize that counting carbs was the solution to our problem.”
A routine health screening indicated that both DeMars and his wife had blood glucose levels that were higher than normal but not yet high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. That’s when the couple searched for long-term, sustainable diet options that would help them lose weight and get their blood sugar levels under control.
The first step in their weight loss journey was to rid their house of problem foods. With two young boys at home, purging the pantry of bread and chips created some initial shock waves. Committed to jumpstarting good habits for their sons, they pushed through the objections and only allowed healthy food options into the pantry.
“The longer you go without carbs, the less you want them,” said DeMars, who says his taste buds have been retrained and he enjoys the flavor of vegetables. “I feel sick when I eat the unhealthy foods I used to enjoy. Now when I crave something sweet, I go for the heart of the celery.”
After a few weeks, the DeMars’ sons adjusted and started reading food labels themselves. Now, the boys visit the websites of their favorite fast food restaurants to check the nutritional content so they can make healthier choices like opting for a burger without a bun or limiting the toppings they put on their meals.
“I tell my boys, ‘Don’t avoid everything you love, just find better options that you also love,’” said Deanna DeMars, who was diagnosed with gestational diabetes during pregnancy, making her at higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes. “To help me stay on track, I never go more than four to five hours without eating and make sure I incorporate protein into my diet. So far, I’ve lost 75 pounds this way.”
Weight loss isn’t the only benefit the DeMars family has experienced as a result of the new lifestyle. Keith DeMars’ blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose levels have all decreased. Additionally, his irritable bowel symptoms have vanished, his back and feet don’t hurt anymore and his sleep apnea has greatly improved.
Prediabetes affects 79 million people across the United States, according to the American Diabetes Association. Diabetes, which increases one’s risk of heart disease, stroke, kidney disease and more, can be prevented with simple lifestyles changes like the ones the DeMars family made. Symptoms of diabetes include urinating often, feeling very thirsty or hungry, extreme fatigue, blurry vision, cuts/bruises that are slow to heal and more.
For more information about diabetes and what resources are available to help manage the disease at Piedmont Fayette Hospital, visit piedmontfayette.org.