Using a Health Coach to Manage Diabetes

The new breed of expert who can help you on your path to health.

Diet Personality

Whether you want to quit smoking, change your diet, take your medication on schedule, check your blood sugar more frequently, lose weight, or get into an exercise routine, altering your lifestyle to better manage diabetes and reduce your risk of complications can be challenging, especially if you have more than a little tweaking to do. Old habits die hard and diabetes can seem overwhelming. Enter the health coach, a new breed of expert who can help you adopt healthier behaviors and turn them into long-term habits.

What is a Health Coach?

Health coaches are different from diabetes educators, registered dietitians, or physicians. "Conventional medicine often starts from the expert perspective of, ‘this is what you need to do,'" says Ruth Q. Wolever, Ph.D., a lifestyle coaching advisor at the Duke Diet and Fitness Center in Durham, North Carolina. Health coaches, on the other hand, aren't directive. Instead, they take a problem-solving approach and help you discover what motivates you to want to make better health choices. "People sustain behavior change when it's linked to something meaningful," Wolever says. Tapping into what makes your life worth living fortifies your motivation, self-confidence, and self-regulation skills so you can create a behavior-change plan that's aligned with your values. But unlike working with a therapist, you won't spend time analyzing the past. With a health coach, your focus will be solely on the future.

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Last Modified Date: July 12, 2013

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  1. Edelman D, et al, "A Multidimensional Integrative Medicine Intervention to Improve Cardiovascular Risk," J Gen Intern Med 2006: 21:728-734.
  2. "Integrative Health Coaching for Patients with Type 2 Diabetes," The Diabetes Educator July/August 2012 vol 36 no 4 629-639, Ruth Q. Wolever, Ph.D. lead author;
  3. Interview: Margaret Moore. CEO, Wellcoaches Corporation
  4. Interview: Ruth Quillian Wolever, Ph.D. Research director Duke Integrative Medicine Advisor on Research, Behavioral Health & Lifestyle Coaching Duke Diet and Fitness Center
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by Carey Potash
Charlie’s 12-year anniversary with type 1 just passed and I still know nothing about this diabetes and why it hates us so much. As if to remind us that it was its anniversary, diabetes unleashed hell on Friday. Charlie was stranded well over 400 for hours and even tipped the scale at 580. Susanne pulled Charlie out of school and started what became a wartime exercise in futility. It was one of the worst blood sugar days we’ve had in years. ...