Penn State Extension Offers Dining with Diabetes

Posted: September 21, 2011

Dining with Diabetes is one extension program designed to help people who have been diagnosed with or are at risk for diabetes to understand what they need to know to prevent and manage their diabetes.

Penn State Extension is an educational network that gives people in Pennsylvania’s 67 counties access to Penn State’s resources and expertise.  Extension educators help families throughout Pennsylvania with information about a broad range of educational programs designed to build healthy communities. Penn State Extension helps individuals and families improve nutrition, diet and health through a range of statewide programs. Dining with Diabetes is one extension program designed to help people who have been diagnosed with or are at risk for diabetes to understand what they need to know to prevent and manage their diabetes.

Diabetes affects millions of people in the United States and is a disorder of metabolism, or the way the body uses digested food for energy and growth. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 872,000 adults in Pennsylvania have been diagnosed with diabetes. For many, learning that they have diabetes is devastating. Many feel frustrated and that they will be forced to abandon many of their favorite foods. To respond to the growing needs of the diabetes community, Penn State Extension is offering the Dining with Diabetes program in Montgomery County.

This series of four classes followed by a 3 month follow-up session is taught in Montgomery County by Penn State Extension Educator Mandel Smith and Teri Wassel, Nutritionist with the Division of Health Promotion, Montgomery County Health Department.

The Dining with Diabetes program offers a unique approach to educating individuals with diabetes and their family members. The class focuses on several key factors that affect successful management of this controllable condition. Participants learn the important health related numbers associated with diabetes management. Learning to control blood pressure, A1C and other key health indicators places the participants on the road to improved self-management. Food demonstrations and recipe sampling help class members experience new ways to prepare favorite foods and the opportunity to try new recipes. The class also stresses the importance of menu planning. Incorporating physical activity into everyday life can benefit the health and wellness of people with diabetes. Walking is a great method of physical activity and can be incorporated into just about any lifestyle. Each of the Dining with Diabetes classes dedicates a few minutes to enjoying a walking segment from the Leslie Sansome, Walking Down Your Blood Sugar DVD walking program.

Dining with Diabetes is a successful community-based program and has proven to positively impact participants. In 2011 participants experienced statistically significant decreases in A1C, blood pressure, waist circumference and triglycerides. Participants also showed a 95% increase in their knowledge of how to decrease sodium, 98% had a greater understanding of the role of fiber and 85% increased understanding of the role of calcium in the diet. In addition many of the participants (42%) connected with a healthcare provider, and their ability to discuss specific tests related to diabetes and their intention to keep a record of those test increased by 95%. Most significantly, participants have seen improvement in health care indicators and they have developed self-efficacy in managing their diabetes.

The Dining with Diabetes program is made possible by USDA funding and a grant from the PA Department of Health. Penn State also partnered with Joslin Diabetes Center, which is affiliated with Harvard University Medical Center.

For registration information contact Penn State Extension Educator, Mandel Smith.

Contact Information

Mandel Smith
  • Educator
Phone: 610-489-4315