Dining with Diabetes classes open 4-week session

Dealing with diabetes on a daily basis can be a very confusing process. Locally, the West Virginia University Extension Service is providing a four-week session of classes to help people make more informed decisions while seeking the best and most up-to-date care possible.

Dining With Diabetes is a program that strives to arm diabetics with answers to help people make the best possible choices regarding their health care. The first session was held Wednesday at the WVU Extension Office. Attendees completed health surveys, and received free blood pressure and A1C checks.

The four-part series includes sessions for being on the road, telling the basics of diabetes, what tests the diabetic should have yearly and target goals for those tests. The subsequent sessions feature information on carbohydrates and sweeteners, fats and sodium and vitamins, minerals and fiber.

Sessions are set with the goal of increasing knowledge about healthy food choices, demonstrating new cooking techniques, promoting physical activity, information about diabetes and nutrition, support by networking with other diabetics and health care professionals and encouraging self-management skills.

“Diabetes is a disease that is self-managed,” said Eloise Hollen, certified diabetic educator and registered dietician with Davis Memorial Hospital. “Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to blindness, loss of limbs, nerve damage, heart disease and even stroke. We now know these do not have to happen.”

Hollen said people susceptible to diabetes will not necessarily develop the disease.

“Lifestyle choices can keep you from developing diabetes,” Hollen said.

Hollen said some tests are critical for diabetics.

“An A1C looks at sugar control over the past two or three months,” Hollen said. “It is a very valuable test and shows how much sugar is attached to red blood cells. Generally speaking, the target for this test is 7 percent or less, unless another number is specified by your physician. This test should be performed three or fourtimes a year.”

“Blood pressure should be checked at your physician’s office each time you visit,” Hollen said. “The target blood pressure for diabetics, unless specified otherwise, should be 130 over 80 or less. Ways to control blood pressure include stopping smoking, controlling weight, exercise and taking medicines as prescribed.”

“Diabetics should have a microalbumin test once yearly,” Hollen said. “This shows protein in the urine and can detect early kidney damage. And LDL cholesterol tests should also be completed with a target of 100 or less.”

Three other tests Hollen said diabetics should have include a yearly dilated eye exam to check the back of the eye, dental care at least twice yearly and a foot exam at every doctor’s visit.

“Diabetics are twice as likely to have gum disease,” Hollen said. “And diabetics should check their feet daily for red spots and any cuts or damage.”

West Virginia University Families and Health Extension Agent Hannah Fincham led the group in 10 minutes of physical activity.

“Diabetics should have 30 minutes of physical activity daily,” Fincham recommended.

Dining With Diabetes participants received a variety of healthy choice recipes. Cooking demonstrations will be including in upcoming sessions.

More information about Dining With Diabetes is available by calling 304-636-2455.