This is a story about Raj and Pallavi — a husband and wife who have been long-time supporters of the South Asian Heart Center at El Camino Hospital. They had been worried about the threat of diabetes for years, but when they themselves became South Asian Heart Center participants, things began to change for the better.
Raj and Pallavi searched for effective solutions to help keep their A1C levels in check. However, with demanding professional lives—Raj as an engineering leader in the tech industry, and Pallavi as an accomplished and highly respected math teacher—they were not able to find the structured guidance that could help them make real changes to their lifestyle. “There wasn’t any solid help to see me through the changes I needed to make,” recalls Pallavi. Their outlook began to improve when they started working with the South Asian Heart Center’s STOP-D program.
The STOP-D program is designed for people of South Asian descent who are genetically predisposed to or have a family history of diabetes. One of its purposes is to help people understand when they are pre-diabetic: a state when a blood sugar level is higher than normal but not high enough to be diagnosed as type 2 diabetes. The STOP-D program helps participants understand that diabetes is preventable, not predestined.
With help from South Asian Heart Center coaches and dietitians, Raj and Pallavi were able to make real, impactful changes. For Pallavi, that meant realizing she had a tendency to eat for comfort in times of stress. Meditations twice a day have helped her deal with stress and dismiss food as a source of relief. For Raj, it meant understanding how he could eat more mindfully and reduce incidents of overeating. “My first thought was that I’ll have to make a lot of significant changes. [But] if there’s any food I like a lot, I can still eat it. The change is portion control,” Raj shares encouragingly.
Already an avid hiker, Raj has ventured all over the world. The STOP-D program encouraged him to bring his fondness of trail hiking back home and make it a routine. Now, at a bare minimum, he and Pallavi make it a point to take a 10- or 20-minute walk after every meal together. Between diet and exercise, the difference was clear. “My A1C went down from 6.4 to 5.7, so I was very happy,” Raj says with a smile.
Diabetes is a major health concern for people of South Asian descent. The reality is that nine out of 10 pre-diabetic people aren’t aware of their condition, and 30% of them are likely to become diabetic. The South Asian Heart Center is truly a unique resource in the Silicon Valley community, and Raj and Pallavi encourage as many of their friends and colleagues as possible to consider participating in the STOP-D program. “At least have a discussion. Learn about it, then make a choice,” urges Raj. Pallavi is just as supportive, saying “This is a special program. It would be a shame not to know what they do because they do so much.”