Ethnic minorities have higher morbidity and mortality from chronic diseases. Individualized coaching that accounts for member’s cultural influences and health beliefs increases the likelihood of adopting new behaviors to reach health goals.
How Janet helps our Members
As a Spanish-speaking health coach and registered dietitian, I have the unique opportunity to help Latinos achieve their health goals. One of my clients, a 59-year-old of Mexican descent, faced a diagnosis of metabolic syndrome and pre-diabetes following one of our health evaluations. He enrolled in our health coaching program to learn about reducing his risk for diabetes. However, he was intimidated because he thought it would involve radical lifestyle changes leading to frustration and failure.
Throughout the coaching sessions, I was able to learn about his customs and values. Family and food were the two important aspects of his life that surfaced, and a strategic focus on them allowed this individual to reach his goals.
For instance, the entire family pitched in to help. The member’s son was his partner at the gym and motivated him to stay active. His wife and daughter continued to prepare traditional dishes but incorporated modifications, such as leaner meats, more vegetables and smaller portions of starches. In addition, he reduced his carbohydrate intake, planned snacks in advance, and used the plate method for meal planning.
Food is the center of most social gatherings in the Latino culture, but some challenges may exist when trying to adopt healthier eating habits. Through our coaching sessions, this individual learned the importance of having a plan to face these unique social challenges and pressures. He appreciated that I was familiar with his foods, understood the traditions and customs of Latinos and could communicate in the language he felt most comfortable.
Although many of his relatives and friends do not believe they have control over their health, this member was confident he could lower his risk for diabetes with weight loss and lifestyle changes. He lost 23 lbs while working with me and it is evident his commitment to health will continue.
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