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This Year's Theme: Eat Right Your Way, Every Day

Posted: April 3, 2013

March is National Nutrition Month

March is National Nutrition Month, and this year’s theme is “Eat Right Your Way, Every Day.” This is a challenge for anyone with busy fast paced lives, but particularly so for people who have Type 2 diabetes, pre-diabetes or are at risk for developing diabetes. Because diet is such an integral part of the management of this disease, people with diabetes can never really “take a day off” when it comes to preparing and eating the right foods.

It is estimated that 872,000 (9%) of Pennsylvanian’s have been told by a doctor that they have diabetes and an additional 25% have diabetes but have not been diagnosed. This is especially significant in that the longer the disease goes undiagnosed and/or unmanaged, the greater the risk of complications developing.

The keys to successful management are diet, physical activity, and medication to control blood glucose (sugar), blood pressure and blood lipids (cholesterol). Working with a team of health care providers to help manage your diabetes is critical. This includes education in all aspects of care.

In April, Penn State Extension and the Area Agency on Aging in Somerset County are teaming up to present the program “Dining with Diabetes” at the Somerset Senior Center in Somerset. This Extension program, in partnership with Joslin Diabetes Center, received a Medicare and Medicaid Innovation grant to offer this program at no cost to individuals receiving Medicare or Medicaid, with the goal of helping participants improve the management of their diabetes.

Diabetes is a disease in which the body has difficulty using food for energy. This is caused by a lack of, or insufficient amount of, insulin and/or the body’s inability to properly use the insulin. Insulin acts as the key which unlocks the door that allows glucose in the blood (glucose comes from the digestion or breakdown of carbohydrate in food) to enter into our cells, where it is used for energy.  People with diabetes have the constant challenge of monitoring and balancing their food intake to help keep their blood glucose levels as near normal as possible. In the “Dining with Diabetes” class, a Registered Dietitian and Extension Program Assistant help participants better understand their diet and most importantly, how to prepare meals that meet dietary goals but are good tasting as well. During the three class sessions, participants learn about diabetes and healthy eating, prepare and taste healthy foods, and participate in light physical activity during the class. In addition, at the first and follow-up class, they test their A1C and blood pressure. For more information and a video about the classes, visit the Penn State Extension Dining with Diabetes website.