Healthy eating, weight control key to fighting diabetes

Healthy eating, weight control key to fighting diabetes

Editor’s Note: This is the last in a three-part series on diabetes. The first two articles in this series talked about the impact of diabetes in OSAGE County and highlighted some of the local resources available for diabetics. This article discusses some tips people can use to help manage the disease.

Local diabetes educators at Jane Phillips Medical Center in Bartlesville, the closest location for taking classes on diabetes, said education and intervention are crucial to reduce the risk of complications associated with diabetes, including damaging eyes, heart, kidneys and the circulatory system.

Classes are regularly offered at JPMC covering a variety of diabetes-related topics. A physician’s referral is required to attend the classes. The cost of the programs varies, but some class fees may be covered by insurance.

Shannon Bailey, MS, RD/LD, CDE, diabetes and nutrition education manager at Jane Phillips Medical Center in Bartlesville, and Sherry Jackson, RD/LD, CDE, registered dietitian, certified diabetes Educator in outpatient program at JPMC, share some information taught in their classes.

“We want people to know up front that the more you know, the more you know to do,” said Jackson.

First and foremost, Jackson recommends healthy eating and weight control.

“I teach carbohydrate counting, heart healthy and weight control,” said Jackson, “because the number one treatment for Type 2 diabetes is weight control or weight loss.”

While carb counting is important, Jackson said, “We never talk about taking carbs away. We limit them and want them consistent, but I don’t want people to think that we are suggesting they take them away.”

Heart healthy is also important, because people with diabetes have a 50 percent greater chance of developing atherosclerosis, according to Jackson.

“I go over heart health because diabetes and heart disease are very connected,” she said.

All the nutrition information taught in the JPMC classes is based on the USDA recommendations. The “Plate” offers strategies to promote healthy eating in America. It focuses on low-solid fat and fewer added sugars.

“We are really going to encourage that for those with diabetes, because of that heart disease connection,” said Bailey. “The ‘Plate’ is a good teaching tool.“

“That’s the diet we have been suggesting for those with diabetes anyway, so it fits right in, and that’s the recommendations for everybody,” said Jackson. “I always tell the people in my classes that the nutrition part not only applies to them, but also it’s something they can pass on to their family, maybe not the carb counting, but all the nutrition information applies to everybody.

“It gives them more information to jump in and inspires them because they know it’s going to help their kids and grandkids,” she added.

Another healthy diet option Jackson recommends is the Dash Diet.

“It encompasses the format of nutrition information that I like to give my patients,” she said. “It covers heart healthy and weight control strategies.”

One important topic also covered in the classes is label reading.

“I pass around menus,” said Jackson. “The class is very practical and interactive. Nobody’s just lecturing.”

Bailey explained that the classes are designed to help people develop strategies.

“We want their diets to be the healthiest possible and we also encourage exercise.”

Jackson recommends 150 minutes a week of aerobic exercise.

“We try to individualize the exercise routine according to each person’s abilities and limitations,” Jackson said.

Sometimes a person’s knees, hips, back or other issues create challenges to aerobic exercise.

“We modify their exercise program and encourage them to do what they can with what they’ve got and maybe even try to improve,” she said.

“The whole lifestyle management of diabetes is what we try to encompass in our education, and then we also teach insulin management,” said Bailey.

Jackson added, “With insulin management, carb counting is very important, because they correlate.”

JPMC’s program is very individualized. Group classes are offered, but they also have people write out their specific goals and then work with them individually to help them achieve those goals. The individual session is completed first, before the group sessions, to help the educators know what each person’s specific needs are.

“We work with them over 3-6 months on their goals,” said Jackson.

The classes are flexible and people can choose the times that work best with their schedule, according to Bailey.

“This program is primarily for people with Type 2 diabetes, but for people with Type 1, we actually do a lot of insulin pump training and management,” said Bailey. “There may be younger people in our community who do not know that this resource is available.”

In addition to the classes at JPMC, the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service also offers a four-week diabetes class titled LEAD — Live well, Eat well, and be Active with Diabetes. The program features lectures, food demonstrations and taste testing of a diabetic-friendly meal.

No physician referral is required to attend these classes.

“This class is different from those offered at the hospital,” said Gale Mills, family and consumer science extension educator in Washington County. “It serves to help people implement healthy changes in their lives. People can’t eat tuna or chicken breast for every meal. It helps to learn how to plan healthy meals and increase activity.”

Mills will be teaching the classes from 5:30-7 p.m. Feb. 2, 9, 16 and 23 at Adams Boulevard Church of Christ, 3700 SE Adams Blvd., Bartlesville, in the dining room located down the hill to the left side of the building.

Cost of the class is $25 for the entire program to include materials, food samples/meals. To register, send check made out to the OSU Extension Service, P.O. Box 10, Dewey, OK 74029. Include name, mailing address, e-mail address and home/cell phone number. Class size is limited.

For more information, contact Gale Mills at or 918-534-2216. Find her on Facebook at “WashCoFCS.”