Dining with Diabetes Program Impacts

Posted: December 23, 2014

Penn State Extension’s Dining with Diabetes program is reaching throughout the district and impacting people’s lives by teaching foster grandparents and clients of Main Link.
Dining with Diabetes participants at the Main Link sample a recipe while Aurora Hulslander looks on.

Dining with Diabetes participants at the Main Link sample a recipe while Aurora Hulslander looks on.

The Main Link is a peer-support center for people dealing with mental illness. Centers are located in Towanda and Sayre in Bradford County. Recently a Dining with Diabetes Program was held at the Towanda location. Participants included Main Link clients and peer-support staff.

Unfortunately, some medications prescribed for mental illness increase the risk for diabetes. This emphasizes the importance of offering diabetes education for persons being treated for mental illness.

Ten people participated in the program. Eight had diabetes or prediabetes. Two did not have diabetes but were at risk of developing it. Pre- to post- A1C* blood testing showed significant improvement in blood glucose levels for seven of the eight participants tested. The reduction in elevated blood glucose levels greatly decreased the risk of diabetic complications in these individuals. Participants also felt good about themselves for improving food choices and increasing physical activity that resulted in the improved blood glucose levels.

Another diabetes educational program called Living Well with Diabetes was delivered to 48 district foster grandparents with the Area Agency on Aging. Many had diabetes or prediabetes or a family member with diabetes. Participants learned key facts for managing type 2 diabetes successfully and preventing complications. Many resources were provided. Ten participants asked to be notified about future Dining with Diabetes programs. Concerns about type 2 diabetes in children also were discussed.  Grandparents were encouraged to help the children in their care to eat healthy and be active.

Here are a few quotes from the program's participants:

"I learned a lot about how to live with my diabetes. I learned how to count carbs."

"I loved this class. The workers were very friendly and educated us well regarding diabetes and prevention of diabetes."

"This is a fabulous program. The instructors are approachable, knowledgeable and very patient. I learned a lot of new information, had many of my questions answered, and had some of my anxiety relieved. It was worth the time and a good investment in my future health."

Are you at risk for diabetes? Take the American Diabetes Association’s Type 2 Diabetes Risk Test.