Taking Small Steps for Better Health: Reducing Sugar in Your Diet

Getting in front starts with baby steps, like a small change in diet. That was the case for two staff members at CPIC who decided earlier this year to take steps to eat better, lose weight and get healthy.

Though their motivations were different, both Tina Clarke, Ph.D., a research scientist at CPIC, and Patricia Cordeiro, a Human Resources assistant, took small steps earlier this year to make big changes.

For Tina, it was the prospect of turning 40 that triggered the change. “It really made me aware that I needed to take control of my diet,” she said. “I realized that even if I gained only a pound a year from this point forward, it could seriously affect my health, not just how I look and feel.”

Rather than commit to radical changes and impossible goals, Tina set out to make small changes. “Six days a week I cut out sugar, dairy and other white foods. I eat whatever I want on the seventh day,” Tina explained. “The first week was difficult — I didn’t realize I was such a big sugar addict — but after that, I stopped craving it. I really don’t even think about it much any more”

Patricia talked to Tina after she heard about her diet and the success she was having. “When I was pregnant I developed gestational diabetes and that really scared me,” Patricia said. “Also, my grandmother had just died from diabetes, and when I began testing my blood sugar level using an old meter I had found around the house, my levels were way too high.”

Like Tina, Patricia quickly adapted to the different diet, and found that she rarely craved sweets even on her non-diet days. “I had a huge sweet tooth, so if I can this, I’m sure that anybody can.”

Patricia’s story has a happy ending in that eventually she discovered that the meter she was using to test her blood was out of date and giving her false readings. So while her health was not at risk in the short-term, she has kept up with the diet. “It was never about losing weight, but about being healthy, and I feel much healthier eating the way I do. The best part is that my kids and husband are eating better because of it as well.”

Small simple steps are key to making changes, according to Tina. “I started this diet, Patricia followed suit, and now both our families are eating less sugar, more vegetables, and feeling better and healthier,” she said. “And Patricia and I are talking to other co-workers at CPIC. We are all working to support one another.”