Last fall, Alisa Takeuchi, a teacher in Huntington Beach, Calif., had lab work done and learned that her A1C level, a measure of average blood sugar levels over three months, was at 10.6% – she recounts this as a huge wake up call. An A1C level below 5.7% is considered normal, and over 6.5% indicates Type 2 diabetes. With this new Type 2 diabetes diagnosis, Alisa was motivated to make a major lifestyle change, determined to lower her A1C and avoid having to take insulin.
Right after Thanksgiving last year, Takeuchi turned to Virta Health, a diabetes reversal program offered on Blue Shield of California’s Wellvolution platform, available at no cost to all Blue Shield members. Combining advanced telehealth technology and clinically proven personalized nutrition – in which you use fat instead of carbohydrates as your main fuel source – Virta’s approach helps patients reverse Type 2 diabetes.
Now, one year after starting with Virta Health, her A1C level is a healthy 5%, and she has successfully reversed her diabetes diagnosis. “Nobody is more blown away with my success than I am. I'm just so much better for it,” she said.
“Do I feel better? Of course I do,” she continued. “Losing weight was a side benefit, which I’m happy about. But when I saw the lab results with the reduced A1C levels…the data doesn’t lie, and that’s how I knew that I was doing the right thing with Virta.”
Staying healthy during the holidays
Making a major lifestyle change can be challenging. The holiday season poses an additional challenge, as food is a central part of many family and holiday traditions. It can be tempting to wait until the New Year to start eating well, but Takeuchi started her Virta Health journey leading into the holiday season with great success.
Less than a week after she started Virta, her work hosted a holiday potluck, and she considered skipping the event to avoid temptation. She ultimately decided to attend, bringing a Virta recipe – a tasty buffalo chicken dip. This way, she knew there would be at least one item for her to enjoy at the party. But that wasn’t the case. Another staff member brough a charcuterie board, which featured Virta-friendly items. After enjoying the dip and charcuterie board, Alisa found herself completely satisfied – and not at all tempted by the fried foods and desserts at the party. “That’s when I knew I was all in,” she said.
Enjoy what you can eat, instead of focusing on what you can’t
Takeuchi’s advice? “Don't dwell on what you can't have,” she shared. She does admit that the holidays can be tough, looking at everyone else savoring the foods you used to eat. “But, as long as your plate still has things you enjoy and are good for you, you shouldn’t have a problem.” She also noted that the list of Virta-friendly foods includes many of her favorites. “I never had to eat anything I didn't enjoy,” she said.
Shift your mindset
Early on, Takeuchi reframed how she thought of her new diet and what made her feel her best – she now considers herself carb intolerant. “My body doesn't process carbs well, so why would I want to continue to eat food that doesn't agree with my body?” she shared. “Just like people who are lactose intolerant, they know what happens when they eat ice cream. When I eat carbs, I know it’s not good for me.”
Don’t be afraid to eat out
Takeuchi avoided restaurants for the first few months of her Virta journey, but she quickly came to learn that eating out wasn’t as daunting as it seemed. Almost always, she says she’s able to find something fulfilling on the menu. She recommends looking at the menu online before eating out, and scrolling right to the meat or fish entrée section. Many restaurants are also willing to make substitutions to fit your needs, like subbing a salad instead of fries, or roasted carrots instead of a side of pasta. Adjusting to a new diet and lifestyle does not mean you need to give up socializing with loved ones!
With the help of Wellvolution and Virta Health, Takeuchi says she’s completely changed her mindset and lifestyle. “It's just a way to redevelop how your life could be and should be,” she said.
And what is she most looking forward to eating this holiday season?
“Steak is my absolute favorite thing,” she said.
For more information visit: Blue Shield of California | Virta Health
To learn more about prediabetes and Type 2 diabetes and how Blue Shield can help, visit our Diabetes Awareness story.