You Are What You Eat.
One of the greatest challenges for most people living with diabetes is adjusting their food and drinking habits to their new way of life. Between treatments, scheduling regular health check-ups and trying to get physical activity into the mix, it can be quite challenging to create a balanced meal plan that pleases your taste buds, benefits your body and meets your nutritional needs without complicating your life.
It is a common myth that once you have diabetes, your diet must now consist only of boiled vegetables and flavourless gruel. That is all that it is though, a myth, because while having diabetes means you have to change what and how you eat and drink, it doesn’t have to be tasteless, flavourless and only involve two elements of the food pyramid. The necessary lifestyle changes, the complexities of management and the side effects of therapy make education a central part of diabetes management and structured education is recommended for all people with diabetes at the time of initial diagnosis and on an ongoing basis.
As all patients come from unique social and cultural environments, they have different learning needs, priorities, and diabetes self-management experience. This is why APSA has launched the ‘Diabetes: Nutrition and Improved Quality of Life’ workshops in an effort to change perception and improve the way diabetic people cook and eat. This six week project emphasizes strategies that are patient centred, problem based, culturally relevant, integrative, and evidence based, that ultimately provide a personalised holistic approach to diabetes management as well as an improved quality of life.
The project consists of three hour, weekly workshops of nutrition information and practical cooking classes. Additionally, eligible participants who complete a minimum of three sessions have access to two free individual consultations with a Registered Dietitian (RD), a workshop facilitated by a psychologist focusing on specific themes and, when needed, an appointment with the medical doctor for closer evaluation and follow up.
Different themes are discussed with patients such as myth busting, supplementation of vitamins and minerals, heart health and label reading, among many others. This is followed by the practical cooking sessions in which common recipes, such as egg muffins or spaghetti bolognese, are revisited. The program has been successful and produced some outstanding results. A total of 150 people followed the nutrition workshop, 47% lost weight, 67% noticed a decrease in their HbA1c levels (measure of blood sugar level fluctuation), 31% had an increase in good cholesterol, while 54% reported a decrease in bad cholesterol levels and 100% noting a positive impact on their eating habits.