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Indo-Canadian Diabetes Educator Says Educating Others Is In Her Blood

VANCOUVER – Harmeet Mundra, originally from Punjab, India, has been a CDE since 2008 and aside from spending time with her family, including two kids, she currently works as a dietitian for Fraser Health. “Educating people is in my blood. My dad was head of the department in a university, my mom was a zoologist and a couple of my aunts were nutritionists. I have always wished to help people with their health, so becoming a dietitian was a dream that came true. It gives me immense satisfaction when I help educate people about their health,” says Mundra.

Mundra is known to have good rapport with people and she feels appreciated for her work in the community.

“I have worked in diabetes education centres for many years, where the main focus of education was intensive diabetes management. For the last few years, I have led several community-based initiatives including cooking classes, supermarket nutrition tours, blood glucose testing, blood cholesterol testing, blood pressure testing clinics to South Asians at various local venues. It is very fulfilling to work in a community setting, as it allows me to talk to many individuals about prediabetes and prevention strategies and help them understand the relationship among various ailments including diabetes, heart disease and hypertension,” adds Mundra.

National CDE Day reminds Mundra that there are many diabetes educators who are working day and night and doing a fantastic job in the field of education.

Ajit Minhas, 56, has been living with type 2 diabetes since the age of 28, however diabetes is not unfamiliar to him as the disease is prominent on his mother’s side of the family. He has been on disability for the last seven years due to eye complications, and prior to disability, he worked as a taxi driver and security guard.

“When I was first diagnosed with diabetes, my sugar levels were not too high. However, in 2009/2010, my levels went up to 20 and on occasion up to 27. Due to complications of diabetes, I am now blind in my right eye,” says Minhas.

Minhas credits Mundra for helping him to effectively manage his diabetes by teaching and explaining specific skills in areas such as monitoring and managing blood sugar levels, physical activity, nutrition and the best way to manage medications. “She’s told me to eat smaller portion sizes, eat before exercising and always have food available with me if I feel my sugar levels are going low. Also, she recommended that when I’m sitting and watching television that I walk around during commercials to get in some extra minutes of exercise. And she’s told me about balance-if I attend a wedding reception where I eat whatever, the next day, I will go back to a routine. Her advice has been very valuable to me and she’s taught me with control, diabetes can be managed,” says Ajit.

Minhas’s and his wife have also joined Mundra on her supermarket nutrition tours, which have helped him to better understand the importance of reading food labels. “I’ve made some changes with my diet, if we eat roti at home, instead of three that I use to eat, I now eat two. Instead of just adding oil and butter to my food, we now measure how much to use. I also eat more salad and vegetables with each meal. And for half an hour five days a week, I go for 6km walks,” adds Minhas.

“The CDA works closely with diabetes educators across Canada through our Diabetes Educator Section National Executive, chapters and committees,” says Rick Blickstead, CDA President and CEO. “The role of a diabetes educator can be taken on by a variety of professionals who have additional training and are experienced in diabetes care, management, and education such as a registered dietitian, registered nurse or pharmacist. We value the unique and integral role diabetes educators have in providing care and support to those with diabetes or pre-diabetes.”

During Diabetes Awareness Month this November, the Canadian Diabetes Association (CDA) encourages all Canadians living with diabetes to celebrate National Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE) Day on Nov. 4 in honour of the important work carried out by diabetes educators.

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