The Eye Institute (TEI) recently hosted a series of diabetes education courses, Real World Diabetes, in conjunction with Temple Health. The course was held at the Oak Lane campus from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. every Tuesday in June with a one month follow up meeting on July 23.

Casey Dascher, MBA, RD, LDN, CDE, diabetes educator with Temple University Hospital, led the free educational series. Participants learn medication safety, what to do when your blood sugar is too high or too low, how to prevent complications, meal planning, how to read food labels and how to identify which foods raise blood sugar and which ones do not. Additionally, there were sessions on problem-solving when attendees are at parties and restaurants, and how to exercise safety, and stress management.

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“What people enjoy about this class the most is it’s more of a conversation, rather than just teaching at somebody. We do a lot of group activities on meal planning, problem-solving and the fear associated with having diabetes,” Dascher said. “For the most part, people know that soda is not good for them but reinforcing it in a group helps. I try to steer the conversation rather than teaching; it’s modeled more like a workshop.”

The last session resulted in weight loss for all in attendance. According to Dascher, one woman who started the session drinking soda four times a week has now cut it out completely. She has also increased her exercise to three days a week instead of one. And, her perception of diabetes used to be a serious problem that now she feels like it is something she can manage.

Dascher provided them with a list of programs and resources they can utilize after they leave this program. “They like the support provided by these sessions but when that goes away the learned behavior tends to go away with it and I encourage them to find something else on the list to fulfill that instead,” she said.  

Although the class size initially started at 12, it grew to 20 in the fourth class. Another diabetes class series is scheduled for every Tuesday in October.

Over 30 million Americans have diabetes, which is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In the last 20 years, the number of adults diagnosed with diabetes has more than tripled. Those who suffer from diabetes are at a higher risk for serious eye conditions including cataracts, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy. TEI partners with Temple Health to provide this educational program to teach participants important aspects of managing diabetes and tips for an overall healthier lifestyle.