The Day – Lighten Up: Cook well, age well program starting up with pilot program

Your father could have it. Maybe a distant cousin, your bank teller, or even your best friend. Regardless of the degrees of separation, there is someone you know who is living with diabetes.

There were an estimated 30.3 million people in the United States with diabetes in 2015, according to the Centers for Disease Control. In most cases, diabetic adults were overweight or obese. Though there is no guarantee of a cure for diabetes, research has shown, including a recent landmark study from renowned Newcastle University in the U.K., that factors such as eating healthy and losing weight can have a positive impact in the fight against diabetes.

The pancreas is the gland essential for healthy insulin production in our bodies. Doctors Robert Rizza and Michael Jensen of Rochester, Minnesota’s Mayo Clinic, state that “the body sometimes needs as much as two to three times more insulin than it would if it was at a healthy weight” (meaning the pancreas cannot function as it normally should), and the “fat cells of people who are obese and who have more abdominal fat actually release molecules that can be harmful to the pancreas.”

In the latter statement, the docs are referring to type 2 diabetes patients in particular.

So, what are we to do? Enter Cindy Barry, a health educator and registered dietitian with the Ledge Light Health District, who is co-facilitating a program this spring called “Cook Well, Eat Well, Age Well.” This free six-week cooking class is for adults living with diabetes, and is also open to their spouses, partners and caregivers.

“It’s a pilot program in response to data that was collected by Ledge Light and L&M Hospital that the number of those with diabetes, the rates, are rising in both New London County and nationally and really mirrors the rise of rates of obesity,” Barry, who is also running a diabetes self-management program, explained. “We realize that people that were taking our ‘Live Well’ diabetes program still could benefit from a practical component.”

The program is a hands-on class that will allow participants to cook a meal, learn about how to safely handle a knife, and be aware of safe food preparation. Topics of discussion will also focus on diabetes self-management, weight management, budgeting, and healthy eating.

“We’ll also be talking a lot about physical activity as well as choosing beverages and that sort of thing,” Barry said, adding that there will also be discussion of ‘serving size versus portion size’ as well. “We’ll share in the meal as a community, so we’ll be having dinner together. We’ll hone their cooking skills and also may have some guest chefs and farmers that may come in and demonstrate.”

“We’re very excited and the community is excited,” she added. “I really think it’s going to be a lot of fun.”

The “Cook Well, Eat Well, Age Well” program is free and open to the public. Class size is limited. For more information, contact Cindy Barry at Ledge Light Health District, at (860) 448-4883.

Erika Y. Gradecki operates Food For Your Soul LLC. She is always looking for good stories about health, nutrition and wellness and can be reached at [email protected]

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