Dulce Garcia, Nutritionist
CHRISTUS St. Mary’s Clinic
It feels as if I am inextricably linked to the profession of dietetics. I believe everyone has a purpose, and ironically, it just happens that my name is Dulce (Spanish for sweet). I have diabetes, and I chose to be a dietitian. I was diagnosed with type 1 Diabetes at the age of twelve.
This chronic condition sparked my interest in nutrition, education, and counseling. At an early age, it is easy to assume kids are not clear on what the future holds, but I knew after many years of struggling with the disease that I wanted to help anyone who had a similar experience.
With every year that passes, the U.S. population continues to become affected by this chronic disease, and the financial issues that comes along with it. My heart hurts for anyone who is affected by any chronic disease, especially one that can be prevented with nutrition. I cannot think of another arena more important than chronic disease prevention. Therefore, I am deeply drawn to the profession of dietetics, and all the possibilities of disease prevention that comes with it.
Diabetes management is challenging whether it is Gestational, Type I or Type II. Interventions include lifestyle changes that require constant work and planning. It will often feel as if you never get a break. Diabetes does not discriminate and can affect individuals of all shapes, color, and sizes. Restricting your favorite foods is never encouraged when learning how to deal with diabetes management, as this may often result in relapse. Instead, individuals are educated on how to react to different scenarios, glucose ranges, and how to use food as their medicine, while still incorporating their favorite dishes.
Food should be enjoyable and not feel like a chore, especially during the holidays and special celebrations. I encourage patients to visit with a dietitian around the holidays as they can help individuals evaluate any risk and overlooked eating behaviors. All education and nutrition interventions are individualized. Not everyone’s background is the same.
Overall, diabetes has taught me how to be more empathetic towards anyone with a health condition. I try to remember how it feels to be a patient, the frustration, and how I’d want a healthcare provider to treat me. You never know what’s going on in a person’s mind, so be kind, understanding, and empathetic.