Jay Hunt was living with an 11% A1C level before the Genesis diabetes education program. - Genesis HealthCare System - Zanesville, Ohio

Patient Stories

Man With 11 Percent A1C Level Changes His Life Through Diet

husband and wife standing together Jay and Cheryl Hunt

Quitting 8 medications, 2 insulin injections daily

Jay Hunt was at his son’s wedding in Colorado when he began having trouble breathing and could barely put one foot in front of the other. The trip to the mountains and photos from the celebration in June 2018, caused him to make changes in his lifestyle.

“I felt terrible and was going downhill quickly. My A1C blood sugar level was 11, and I was taking about eight medications a day along with two insulin injections. I knew I had to do something to change or I wasn’t going to make it,” said the 59-year-old.

Jay’s wife Cheryl also recalled the transformative trip vividly. “When we got home, he decided to take his life back,” Cheryl said. Jay had previously taken the Diabetes Self-Management Education at Genesis when he was first diagnosed with diabetes. He decided to put into practice what he had learned about improving his diet through the education.

Learning healthy eating habits helped Jay shed more than 40 pounds, lower his A1C from 11 to 5.4 and no longer need the long list of medications he was taking daily.

Eating better means feeling better

“The Diabetes & Nutrition Education team opened my eyes to the possibility that I could get ahold of my bad habits and change. Before, I was ready to give up,” Jay said. A picky eater, Jay loved donuts, didn’t like salads and had never tried broccoli.

The education program taught Jay about portion control, counting carbohydrates and shopping for groceries. “I read labels and look at the carbohydrates and calories and think to myself, ‘Is this food really worth it?’ I don’t want to go back to feeling terrible all the time. My muscles hurt, and I was losing function.”

Jay learned to eat a healthier diet. “I cut pop, potatoes, breads, sugars and pasta from my diet and stuck with low carbohydrate and high protein foods.”

Get the Diabetes Food Cheat Sheet (Infographic)

Family members benefit from Jay's lifestyle changes

Cheryl enrolled in the education program to support her husband. As a result, she lost more than 20 pounds. Cheryl, a food service associate at Genesis Food & Nutrition, also learned a lot of practical ideas through the education. The main take-home message Cheryl garnered was portion control. “If the menu suggested ¼ cup of cottage cheese; we ate a fourth of a cup,” Cheryl said.

The Hunts have made a life change, and the outcome is apparent. “People stop me in the hallways of the hospital and ask if I’ve lost weight,” Cheryl said. Jay is also employed at Genesis as a valet.

Jay’s advice to others facing similar health challenges is to set goals and make healthier choices a priority. “My goal was to get off the medications I was taking. Now I have more energy and have never felt better in my life,” Jay shared.

Diabetes Exercise Program

This fun, interactive program runs for eight weeks at the Physicians Pavilion at Genesis Hospital. The cost is $100 and financial aid is available.

To learn more call the Genesis Diabetes Education staff at (740) 454-4568 or 866-351-6688.