Dr. Ian Smith diet expert on VH1’s Celebrity Fit Club, recently spoke to Thediabetesresource.com about his partnership with CVS/Pharmacy, which is intended to help Americans get their diabetes in control by supporting patients through education, monitoring services and the new ExtraCare Advantage diabetes programs.
Here is the TDR exclusive video interview
TDR: What are you ultimately looking to accomplish with the program?
Dr. Ian: The 50 Million Pound Challenge has been around for a few years and our goal has been to help America collectively lose 50 million pounds, but beyond that we want them to become more health conscious. That is, think about what they are putting in their bodies and whether or not their bodies are exercising correctly. One of the complications of course of being overweight is Type2 diabetes. With this great new partnership with CVS/pharmacy we are now going to be offer the challengers not just great weight loss features, which are all available on the website, but also offer them great diabetes information and education along with management strategies, ways to handle the disease and understand exactly what’s going on. We are so excited about this new partnership with CVS/pharmacy because this means our impact will now be multiplied by so many.
Will someone explain to patients that glucose testing at least 4x per day is also important in conjunction with a1c home testing kits? as well as eating healthy and exercising?
Dr. Ian: Well, a hemoglobin A1C test is very important for people with diabetes because what that does is it gives you an idea of how well or how poorly you have managed your disease the last few months. It’s really a good barometer to see how you have been doing as far as controlling your blood glucose levels. The other part of it is testing yourself on a daily basis, which is also important because throughout the day your blood sugar levels fluctuate sometimes extremely dramatically so you have to be aware of what your blood sugar levels are and what you have to do about them. If you are on medication, that matters. When you take your blood sugar levels that also matters. Regular testing throughout the day for a diabetic, a known diabetic, is extremely important for the proper control of the blood sugar levels.
People with all types of diabetes can live a very full life despite diagnosis we all know this but, I know firsthand living with a chronic disease, is not always that easy. How do you talk to people living with diabetes that find it to be a death sentence and don’t take care of themselves because of it?
Dr. Ian: Sure, well you are right a chronic illness is not always easy. It’s easy to say that it’s easy, but it’s not. Knowing that you have a particular disease, knowing that you have to restrict yourself in some fashion, knowing that you have to pay attention to what you are eating, making sure you are exercising correctly. These things can be problematic for some people. The idea is quite simple, the good news and the silver lining in the cloud when it comes to diabetes is that you can control and manage your disease. The hard part of course is just doing it. What we are hoping with this new partnership with CVS/pharmacy and the 50 Million Pound Challenge is that we will encourage and inspire people in a great community of support to do these things they need to do to better manage their disease. It’s not easy, it’s not always going to be easy, but it’s much better than the alternative and there are thousands and hundreds of thousands of people who have Type 2 diabetes who are living happy, health lives who have life expectancies as long as everybody else, but it requires paying attention to what you eat, paying attention to your medication and making sure you are checking your blood sugar levels quite frequently.
People with type 2 diabetes tend to be older individuals and “stuck in their ways” so to speak how will you talk to these people and encourage them to take better care of themselves without using scare tactics.
Dr. Ian: Well, the idea is to inspire people and show people and demonstrate to them what the positive outcomes can be for them. Diabetes is not a death sentence by any stretch of the imagination and showing people who are 70, 80, 90 years old who have been diabetics for fifty or sixty years can make a big difference, but also demonstrating what minor changes can be made to have such a large impact. People think that if you are diabetic all of a sudden your life is upside down and that’s really not true. It’s really about tweaking and modifying some of your behavioral decisions and that in turn can lead to much better outcomes.
What is your take on type 2 diabetes reaching our youth?
Dr. Ian: Well I think it’s of epidemic proportions, I mean we used to call Type 2 diabetes adult onset diabetes we don’t do that anymore because now our youth at younger ages are experiencing and developing Type 2 diabetes. I think it’s a National concern as diabetes of course can lead to all kinds of complications including kidney disease, blindness, amputation and sometimes even stroke. We need to get a grasp on this right away when it comes to youth because if they are getting it younger, that means those complications could potentially strike them younger and then we have a major problem on our hands.
Are you also looking to increase membership on your 50 Million Pound Challenge website through the CVS partnership? Is there an age limit on the 50 million pound challenge website? Is your website going to be used to help motivate people with all types of diabetes (type 1, 2, Gestational) as well as other chronic diseases and conditions? and what are they?
Dr. Ian: To join the 50 Million Pound Challenge you have to be 18 years or older, but it is completely free and our website is 50millionpounds.com, but you can also get information at cvs.com/diabetes. Both websites provide a great number of resources that are free, accessible, quite easy to understand and implement in your everyday life.
Most websites such as yours usually have a fee to join, what inspired you to make it a free website?
Dr. Ian: Well, because so many people can’t afford paying fees. The country is in a tough time and people are paying for things already that I don’t think they should be paying for. Information that can save lives, make you feel better, allow you to live the best you can, they should be for free. This is information that is not patented or territorial, this is information that we all share. I wanted to provide this information for everyone since it’s not about making money, it’s about getting people healthier and giving people hope at this thing we call life.
I checked out your 30 day meal plan, (which is fantastic by the way) As a person living with type 1 diabetes and knowing that some type 2 diabetes patients take insulin for the amount of carbs they eat, did you ever think about putting carb counts next to the food choices?
Dr. Ian: We have been asked that and we have considered it. The idea behind the 30-day meal plan was that it was kind of a warm up for a lot of the people who are doing my program called the 4-day diet and so they could go on the website, do the 30-day meal plan for free, get themselves in tune and then graduate and do the 4-day diet. But, websites are a work in progress and we take advice, we work on it and that is something that we are considering as we do a re-vamp of the entire website.
Around how many calories are in each day of the plan?
Dr. Ian: It all depends on the day of course, but there are between 1,400 and 1,800 calories and my belief is that the calories between different days should not be consistent, they should be up and down because if you can allow your calorie count to fluctuate, then you can never allow your body to become acclimated to eating the same number of calories each day.
Did certified diabetes educators and nutritionists help to make the meal plan with you?
Dr. Ian: Sure, we have a lot of resources. We have nutritionists who contribute to helping the meal plan to make sure the calories fall in the right place, make sure we have the proper amount of fiber in the diet. It really becomes a collective effort to make sure that number one, the calorie count is where it is supposed to be, but equally important that people are getting all the food groups they need to be healthy.
How many pounds does the average person lose on this diet?
Dr. Ian: The average person should lose approximately two pounds a week, which is really good. If someone lost on average even one pound a week that would be great. Unfortunately people look at TV shows and see people losing 10-15 pounds a week and they have to realize that is so outside of the normal range. Slow and steady weight loss of course is the most ideal because it is sustainable.
Do you recommend Type 1 diabetes patients to go on the 50 Million Pound Challenge?
Dr. Ian: I recommend everyone to go on the 50 Million Pound Challenge, but diabetes is a very idiosyncratic disease which means that what works for some might not work for someone else with the same disease. Each diabetic knows their triggers, they know their blood sugar levels, so they have to make substitutions that they deem are necessary to follow the program, but definitely modify it per preferences and per medical restrictions.
Where else can folks go to get more information?
Dr. Ian: Great, just go to cvs.com/diabetes and go to 50millionpounds.com.
Dr. Ian is a diet expert on VH1’s Celebrity Fit Club and author of the New York Times #1 best-sellers 4 Day Diet, Fat Smash Diet and Extreme Fat Smash Diet, and HAPPY: Simple Steps to Get the Most Out of Life, as well as other works of fiction and non-fiction. He hosts his own TV and radio shows, BET’s Meet the Faith and HealthWatch on American Urban Radio Network. Dr. Ian is a contributor to The View and Men’s Health Magazine. He has filed reports and written for NBC Nightly News, Today Show, Essence, Ebony, People, Cosmopolitan and University of Chicago’s Medicine on the Midway.
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