Dining with DiabetesDiabetics are at a high risk for developing vision problems including glaucoma, cataracts, and diabetic retinopathy. Eye health can be greatly improved by keeping blood-glucose levels within a specific target range. A well-balanced diet along with daily physical activity is an easy and effective way to manage diabetes and improve the overall health of one’s eyes. The Eye Institute of Salus University recently partnered with Penn State Cooperative Extension to offer patients and members of the local community a free diabetes education program. Dining with Diabetes combined social support and nutrition information along with meal planning and real-time cooking demonstrations in order to educate those with the disease.

Following a careful meal plan is the first step in controlling blood sugar levels, and can often be the most difficult step in managing your diabetes. This program is designed to educate individuals with diabetes, and their families, on realistic changes they can make to their diet and physical activity levels to control their diabetes, and create healthier habits. Dining with Diabetes instructors, Casey McKinney, Luz Stella Valencia, and Suzanne Weltman, led important discussions regarding basic carbohydrate counting, meal timing, portion control, vitamins and minerals, nutrition label reading, and how to create healthy meals without reducing flavor and enjoyment. Participants’ HbA1c values (blood sugar levels) were tested during the initial session, and were then compared to their levels at the final session a few weeks later.

Dining with Diabetes - The Eye Institute
“Knowledge is power. I learned how to read food labels, and now understand the difference between good and bad carbs- something I was unaware of before,” said Debra McReynolds, a Dining with Diabetes participant. “The recipes provided are delicious and never leave you feeling deprived.  Overall, this program was empowering, and helped me to understand my disease and how to live with it.”

Please be on the lookout for additional Dining with Diabetes educational classes in the future.