Living with Diabetes: Tips for Optimal Health with Sara Harris - Transcribed

[00:00:00] Pete Waggoner: Welcome to the Optimal Health Podcast from Hudson Physicians, getting you back to optimal health when you're feeling sick, stressed, overwhelmed, or run down. Joining us today on the Optimal Health Podcast is Sara Harris, who just joined recently the Hudson Physicians Group here in Hudson, and will also be on board in New Richmond as well.

[00:00:24] And she is an incredible person who works in diabetes care and is an educational specialist in it. Sara is a registered dietician, has been practicing for 25 years. She attended the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota, most recently here at Hudson Physicians. And of course, the new Richmond facility is where she'll be making home between these two spots.

[00:00:43] New Richmond opening up obviously in 2023. Today we're gonna discuss Sara's work and take a look at what she does and how it will impact all of us in the area of diabetes. Including her experiences, both with it and now as a great resource in her profession. So, Sara, [00:01:00] welcome aboard and welcome to the family here.

[00:01:02] Sara Harris: Thanks, Pete. It feels good to be here. This is week number two, so I'm gonna try not to sound frazzled. 

[00:01:09] Pete Waggoner: You've had nothing to do. 

[00:01:10] Sara Harris: No, not at all. 

[00:01:12] Pete Waggoner: Well, so let's go there for a second. What puts you down this path professionally? Was there a moment in life that got you saying, hey, you know what, I wanna really get into this.

[00:01:21] What got you there? 

[00:01:22] Sara Harris: Yeah, I think it started, obviously getting my undergrad in dietetics, It started in college and just having this good appreciation for good food. I grew up on a farm and so I'm a meat and potatoes. You know, born and raised. 

[00:01:35] Pete Waggoner: Is there any other way? I'm kidding.

[00:01:37] Sara Harris: I think so, and here's the challenge.

[00:01:38] I really wanted people to realize you can be a Midwesterner with those same, the same love of, you know, a good pork roast and, and still call it healthy with, 'Hey, are you eating enough vegetables? What else is on the plate? What's the portion of meat?' Yada yada. So, you know, it started there and then it [00:02:00] expanded into diabetes education.

[00:02:02] After working with just the general population and realizing, you know, I really wanna pursue a little bit more of that specialty. And then ironically getting diagnosed with diabetes myself. So it kinda just locked in where I think I should be in life. 

[00:02:18] Pete Waggoner: Were you younger when that was diagnosed or was that later?

[00:02:20] Sara Harris: No, it came out as a surprise and I was 32. 

[00:02:23] Pete Waggoner: Younger. 

[00:02:24] Sara Harris: Just, yeah. So I was 32 and working at HCMC at the time, and that's how it went. 

[00:02:31] Pete Waggoner: So from HCMC, you were able to take those experiences. What were your next spots. Where did you stop after that? 

[00:02:40] Sara Harris: Yeah, I worked for some time at Boyton Health at the University Universal Campus.

[00:02:44] Yeah. And loved that. Then my husband and I with two small children moved out to New Richmond and I laughed because at the time I didn't know anything about the community. In fact, I called it New Richland to my [00:03:00] friends. Saying, I'm moving to New Richland. So finally figured out where I was moving.

[00:03:04] New Richmond, Wisconsin, and we've been there ever since. I've fallen in love with again, moving towards a little bit more rural where I feel best. And I love the fact that I see patients in Walmart or the local hardware store and it just feels right and feels family. \

[00:03:25] Pete Waggoner: So your parents' farm, is it nearby or?

[00:03:27] Sara Harris: Nope. Southern Minnesota out Southeast or northeast of Rochester. And yeah, they're still there. I love going down and really digging in the dirt with my dad and cooking with my mom. 

[00:03:42] I see a lot of my patients. I see my mom and dad in a lot of the patients I see.

[00:03:47] And I think it's my role to say, 'this diabetes business doesn't have to be so challenging. Let's make this doable where people do not feel frustrated.' They don't feel like [00:04:00] failures. They don't judge themselves. We got this. We can do this and I'm gonna help you. 

[00:04:05] Pete Waggoner: Let's go there for a minute.

[00:04:06] So you said that there's a lot of your parents in who you see. Is this because it's kind of a more skewed older population? I mean, even though you got it young, but does it skew that way? 

[00:04:19] Sara Harris: Yes. I mean it's and it does in the likelihood of getting diabetes increases as we get older in the type two population that is.

[00:04:28] But it's not necessarily that. I think it's just that, patients that I see, they come in feeling like they can't do a thing to kind of like a I think they call it therapeutic inertia, where it's just whatever they do, it's not working. And I sense that degree of frustration and that's what I hope to just really get out of my patients. No, we can, we can do better. You've got this, but I'll help with [00:05:00] perhaps placing sensors, teaching you what medication options there are, and certainly, you know, not blaming a patient for even getting diabetes. 

[00:05:13] Pete Waggoner: Well, that's a, So there's a couple of things.

[00:05:16] First, can you define for the lay person such as myself, what is the difference between one and two? 

[00:05:23] Sara Harris: Yeah. A patient that has been diagnosed with type one is simply no more insulin secretion. No more insulin production from the pancreas. Again, that's determined with blood tests, a lab test.

[00:05:37] A person with type two is generally producing plenty of insulin. It's your body's inability to use that. You're insulin resistant, if you will. So it's how do we get that patient less insulin resistant is really the key. 

[00:05:54] Pete Waggoner: So interestingly you mentioned a couple of times I heard about [00:06:00] the I don't wanna say if it's guilt, it sounds like you hear a lot of people feel like they're responsible because maybe there's some external beliefs that aren't really facts as to how this all occurs and how you end up with it.

[00:06:13] Can you talk on that? 

[00:06:14] Sara Harris: Absolutely. And that's oftentimes why I don't tell patients what type of diabetes I have. Because they have this misconception that people with type one, Oh, you must have gotten that when you were younger and you didn't, you know, that was through no fault of your own.

[00:06:29] Whereas a person with type two, oh, all of a sudden there's some sort of baggage associated with that of, well if you would've lost 30 pounds, you know, you could have avoided this, or if you didn't have that sugar addiction, you could have avoided that. What we do know is that type two is very, very passed down through.

[00:06:53] And I often say, well, you can thank your mom and dad for this, but it was really no other reason you have type two. Now, [00:07:00] not to say as a dietician, of course there's gonna be discussion on what improvements can we make from our diet? What improvements can we make from a physical activity standpoint?

[00:07:10] Don't get me wrong, but I think people really put just too much blame on themselves for those lifestyle habits. And that's where I wanna turn it around and say there's other options as well. 

[00:07:22] Pete Waggoner: So when I come to see you here in Hudson or New Richmond, what can I expect? And what type of services will you provide? 

[00:07:30] Sara Harris: All right, well, we're gonna just take a look at you as a whole, like what are you eating, what is your activity? What are you capable of? But then, ultimately, do we need a medicine on board? Do we need some first oral agent to be helping you out?

[00:07:47] And this is through, obviously, looking at blood sugars. So that would be what we can do. 

[00:07:54] Pete Waggoner: Okay. So when you look at blood sugars, is that a day to day testing [00:08:00] or is that more along the lines of you see the meters and stuff. And I've seen some things now in arms, maybe? It looks like all of this has kind of been evolving a little bit.

[00:08:11] Sara Harris: Very much so. That's really the excitement in all of the diabetes field, is that we've taken what used to be pee on a stick and get a glucose reading that being 30, 40 years ago to the glucometers where you're poking your finger at home. Oftentimes we recommend through one to four times a day testing, depending on your situation. 

[00:08:37] But now the advent of the continuous glucose monitors, Libra is a brand name in Dexcom. There's, those are just two. They're really helpful tools to someone who has diabetes and even moving towards folks that are prediabetic in, in terms of helping guide activity habits, help guide food choices.

[00:08:59] They're [00:09:00] really what's kind of exploding on the market. We are still using glucometers though. Okay they're still, they're still valuable tools and my expectation of patients is initially going through treatment is, Yes, I need to see those blood sugars. This is how we determine if your drug is working. If we're, you know, need to adjust it or you know, it's where we make therapeutic changes. And so yeah, that's what you can.

[00:09:30] Pete Waggoner: Yeah. So in the end there's still a need to draw blood. There's still a need for these great new devices and it sounds to me like it's become a lot more manageable because I think there's a little bit of a stigma that comes along with it.

[00:09:44] You know, a lot of what you talk about is lifestyle changes, Correct. Or adapting or some things that you need to do, but I think along the way, a lot of people are really scared of change. What does this look like? What's gonna be different for me? And then one of the things you said on your bio, [00:10:00] which I love, is you're 80% cheerleader, 20% caregiver.

[00:10:04] Sara Harris: Absolutely. And people just, I think they think, when it comes to, for instance, weight loss that, Yeah, I've heard that I got a BMI of 36. I need to drop a hundred pounds. Well, you know what? Let's not look that far out. Let's look at the first 10 pounds and how are we gonna do that?

[00:10:22] And is that, hey, I'm gonna be walking one time around my block and sitting down and maybe perhaps doing that again later in the evening. I mean, it's small changes, yet significant ones and these small changes are impact blood sugars to a huge degree. I think people think, you know, they need to drop a hundred before anything gets kind of improved.

[00:10:45] That's not the case. And it's for me to show 'em that, let's switch from head lettuce to romaine and then hey, eventually let's maybe use some mixed greens or a spinach mix. You know, it's little dietary changes [00:11:00] little things make big impacts. 

[00:11:03] Pete Waggoner: So when you get into the realm of moving for instance, that impacts your blood sugar and all of the other things, if you work out or you lift or do those kinds of things, how much of an impact does that have from the perspective of both psychologically but physiologically? 

[00:11:24] But more importantly, I think the thing that you touched on the most, this is kind of a question, comment, is that it's all about incremental growth. It's not trying to bite off the whole hundred pounds at once, but what happens is there's instant differences. How much does movement and those types of things, how much does that really impact us? Maybe we don't even know. 

[00:11:45] Sara Harris: It's huge. It's huge. And so I tell everyone I meet, you know, when we're talking about walks, it doesn't have to be this power walk or even a run. Every night you'd find me at a given place in New Richmond walking a white furry dog.

[00:11:59] I'm not gonna [00:12:00] say where I live, but a white furry dog, seven o'clock, I'd call him my diabetes buddy because, You know, I can drop 50 points a post meal, blood sugar, and just from a walk. And he's peeing on every other tree that's available to him so it's not this constant, you know drawing. I'm sweating at the end, but that really impacts blood sugars. And I notice on nights that I don't do it. So that's what, and. You know, I can say, Hey, if it's a rainy day, it's vacuum. It's, I gotta go get the laundry, get the laundry started. I gotta make a bed. Change the sheets and just, it's that housework too.

[00:12:39] It's just moving your body and limiting how sedentary you're on.

[00:12:45] Pete Waggoner: Right. And so if you were to give the takeaways that matter to you, most, anybody listening to this podcast, what they would take with them and then how they would get ahold of you or what the best route is to see you, and what type of is this after someone's been [00:13:00] diagnosed that they come to you? So how does that process work? So first, the takeaways. 

[00:13:03] Sara Harris: Okay. It, it's really through your primary care provider, you have that discussion with him or her. If you are at a place where I'm just wanting to lose some weight, for sure, I'll get, they'll send off a referral. If you've been diagnosed, let's get, let's get a handle on this. Let's get that a1c where it should be. And again, via a referral from your primary care physician, I want you to know that this is doable. That you know what, You don't have to get perfect A1C or blood sugar control, you know, instant. In fact, we don't encourage that.

[00:13:40] We're gonna do it with reasonable steps, with reliance on your lifestyle and reliance on medication if needed. Also to just feel engaged in this process that you know what, you know more than you realize, and let's just help build on that [00:14:00] knowledge. Let's actually put what you know, into action. That's what I can help with.

[00:14:05] Pete Waggoner: And that's what they need you for and that's why you're here. And you're really positive energy and it's really encouraging when you hear it and people hear it come through in this podcast. When a person has a, a passion for what they do and you believe in it, you know it, you live it. So, How could you, if you're someone with you, not do what you suggest because it's coming from experience.

[00:14:30] And I think that's a huge asset taking something that you've been dealing with and being able to really live it out. With numerous patients is, to me, it's, it's an incredible thing. So the people here are gonna be very lucky to work with you in this capacity in Hudson and New Richmond. And welcome aboard.

[00:14:47] I know you've got a patient coming up here right now, so I gonna have to cut you loose because they're waiting, wondering, twiddling their thumbs. Where is she? 

[00:14:54] Sara Harris: Thank you so much, Pete and I feel so blessed to be here. So thanks. 

[00:14:58] Pete Waggoner: It's awesome to have you. Thank [00:15:00] you. That's Sara Harris. Right here from the Optimal Health Podcast.

[00:15:03] Thanks for joining us, everybody. We'll be back with another big episode coming up next month for Sara Harris and Pete Wagner. So long everybody.