At risk for diabetes – She turned her habits and health around

Patient Story

Faced with a family history of diabetes, Irma Cruz Andrews knew she was at risk. She made a decision to get fit.

By IU Health Senior Journalist T.J. Banes, tfender1@iuhealth.org

She wasn’t exactly feeling bad, but Irma Cruz Andrews didn’t have a lot of energy after mealtime. She knew the risk factors for diabetes and wasn’t a stranger to the symptoms.

First, her mom was diagnosed with Type II diabetes, putting her also at risk. Second, she was diagnosed with gestational diabetes during the pregnancy of her daughter. Years after her daughter was born, she became suspicious of her blood sugar levels. When she took a reading, the numbers told her what she needed to do – get healthy or go on medication.

An appointment with IU Health Dr. Swapnil Khare reinforced her concerns. Dr. Khare specializes in endocrinology, metabolism and diabetes.

“My numbers were in the 300s so she said she’d put me on insulin or I could work on improving my diet and exercise. I did not want to be on insulin so I knew what my choice was,” said Andrews, who is married to Craig Andrews. Their daughter is now 12.

At 5’3” her highest weight was 200 pounds. “I’ve always been active but not very good at maintaining diets. I thought ‘I’ll start out doing this for a month,’” said Andrews. She stuck with her plan and over the past two years she has dropped 30 pounds.

“I love bread and I love pasta. That’s my weakness. Instead of having a sandwich with two pieces of bread, I switched to an open face sandwich and cut back my portion on pasta,” said Andrews. Instead of giving up the things she loves, she is monitoring her intake. She chooses fruit over sweet desserts; and has taken up hiking to become more active.

“I don’t want to make it sound like it is easy and that I am perfect. It is not easy and there are days that I am not as rigid, but my initial AC1 was 11.24 percent and my most recent was 6.4 percent so it is working,” said Andrews, 52. “I have learned that my body will react to what I put in it and that this is a lifetime commitment.”

Her advice to others: “Know your triggers – what foods are your weakness; and don’t skip meals – even if it means eating small portions throughout the day.”

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