Wednesday, January 12, 2011

An Interview with Karen Rose Tank, Health, Nutrition & Diabetes Coach

The first post of Health Fare is about my friend Karen Rose Tank, who is a Health, Nutrition & Diabetes Coach located in Central New Jersey. In the years I have known Karen, she has always been incredibly energetic and a great source of information about health, fitness and diet.

Karen lives and works by her motto "You can take control of your health."  She has experienced such control firsthand in her own life's journey when at age 39 she developed Type 1 diabetes. Since diabetes is a complex and difficult disease, staying healthy required she completely modify her lifestyle, with a necessary reexamination of her diet and exercise habits.

Karen found that the medical community provided few answers to the conundrum of what kind of diet people with diabetes should be on, other than that she should "mainly eat anything you want, just count all your carbs and take the appropriate amount of insulin."  She found the standard ADA diet contained too many carbohydrates to properly control her blood sugars, and it was a constant struggle to maintain her health. While Karen discovered a faction of diabetes specialists (such as Dr. Richard Bernstein) who were promoting a low carbohydrate diet as the best method to stabilize blood sugars, such a diet was difficult to sustain without feeling deprived. However, once she became involved with the Suppers program run by Dorothy Mullen, she learned how to prepare the delicious low carbohydrate dishes that were satisfying as well as appropriate for good nutrition and health.

The Suppers program was incredibly successful in keeping Karen healthy.  Then Karen decided along with Dorothy to start  a more specific table-based support group called Suppers for Stable Blood Sugar.  Karen has greatly enjoyed facilitating this group, whose members are not only people with diabetes but people experiencing fluctuating glucose levels and therefore at risk for future problems.

The next natural step was to seek more information from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, which is the only nutrition school integrating all the different dietary theories—combining the knowledge of traditional philosophies with modern concepts like the USDA food pyramid, the glycemic index, the Paleo Diet, the Zone and raw foods. Karen graduated from IIN in the summer of 2010 as a Certified Health and Nutrition Coach. She is currently continuing her training with IIN through their yearlong immersion program. She has grown into the position of helping others manage their blood sugars and finds it to be a fulfilling and exciting opportunity to share what she has learned in her journey. "I love working with people and showing them how to manage their diabetes/health through healthful eating. The other day I was in my kitchen with a client teaching her how to make kale chips. It was so much fun!" Karen says.

One of the major goals for Karen has been to not only get her clients off the constant carbohydrate cycle but to give them satisfying alternatives so they don't feel deprived. She finds that her clients often need help with meal plans, so she brainstorms with her client and they devise a meal plan that is appropriate to the client's lifestyle but also delicious. "Change is small and incremental," Karen says,"And takes practice as well as support and caring." When someone feels supported and cared for, he or she will then feel empowered to change.

Karen offers a complimentary health consultation where she and her client explore the current state of his or her health, what the struggles and challenges are and how she can be of support. Clients always leave with at least one "Aha!" moment on how to improve their health.

She works with clients in weekly or biweekly sessions over several months.  A client did not get to his current state of health overnight, she feels, and healing involves incremental change over time. In every session she and her client discuss what the successes have been, and how he can turn his challenges around.

Another very important part of her program is working with clients to come up with specific actions to incorporate those small, healthful changes as they work towards their goals: sometimes they cook together, sometimes they eat out together, sometimes they tour a health food or other grocery store... it is always fun.. for both of them.

Karen says that she needed to grow into the position of helping others. She didn't work for a bit while she was raising her two boys. She was also learning how to cope and live optimally with her diabetes, while understanding what she has to offer the world in her personal knowledge of living with this complex disease along with her nutrition  background.

She plans to continue to learn tools that will help her clients heal both their physical selves with nutrition and movement, and their emotional and mental selves through mentoring with love, empathy and compassion!

Karen Rose Tank 
Health, Nutrition & Diabetes Coach


  1. what a BEAUTIFUL woman who I dearly love.

  2. Thank you for allowing me to do the work I truly love. I continue to learn from YOU!
    In health, love and gratitude,