Healthy food choices
SIKESTON -- Scott County diabetics or residents who just want to live a healthier life could benefit from a free program aimed at helping people make better food choices.
Beginning tonight the University of Missouri Extension and Scott County Health Department is offering "Eat Well, Be Well With Diabetes" -- a series of classes for people who have diabetes and their family and friends.
The four-session class is an updated version of MU Extension's "Dining with Diabetes" series, which has been offered over the past couple years. It's designed to teach people with diabetes about healthy food choices and meal planning.
"It's the same program we've had in the past. A lot of the same things we've done before, but there a few different components," said Brenda Freed, public educator for Scott County Health Department.
The added component to this program along with education and cooking demonstration is an exercise program.
"It's a light exercise program. They're more than welcome to exercise with us but if they just and see the information and take it home with them," Freed said.
The program's emphasis is on healthy versions of familiar foods that are easy to prepare and cooking techniques that use new or more healthful information.
Classes are two hours long and include instruction, cooking demonstrations, food tasting and light physical activity. Diabetes self-management and working with a health care team are also stressed. Participants will receive copies of recipes prepared in class.
Topics covered include focusing on carbohydrates, heart health, eating well and focusing on self-management.
JoAnn Lambert of Sikeston and her husband don't have diabetes, but they have a lot of friends and family members who do.
"I wanted to know how to cook a little healthier, better and easier," Lambert said.
Lambert said she took the course about a year ago as a measure to prevent diabetes.
"I brought all the recipes home and have used a lot of them since," Lambert said.
The sugar substitute Splenda is a common ingredient in the diabetic foods.
But Lambert said the recipes are just as tasty without the real thing.
"They had some really good desserts, and I have shared with others. I will use one if I go to a potluck and label it sugarless because there's a lot of people who do have diabetes," Lambert said.
Lambert's husband doesn't like the word diet or terms sugar free or fat free, but he enjoys the recipes, too, she said.
"If you didn't know it, you wouldn't really know it was in there," Lambert said about the sugar substitutes.
Most recently Lambert was able to put her information to use when her sister-in-law found out she had diabetes. Lambert said she gave her some recipes.
"I think it's very well worth your time to take notes and get your literature so you can live a little healthier life," Lambert said.
Donna Barks of Sikeston also attended the classes. Attendees received several booklets of recipes and information, she recalled.
"The presenter stressed reading labels on the food. We got to eat and taste all of the food -- and it was delicious," Barks said.
Classes will be held for three consecutive Fridays: today, Nov. 10 and 17 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the home economics room at Scott County Central High School.
"We've always had the program at the health department, and we're going to try to have it at the school in an effort to pull residents from other parts of Scott County," Freed said.
The program will be presented by Maude Harris, nutrition specialist for Scott County Extension, and is made available from a grant through Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.
"If they miss the first class, they always can come to the next class," Freed said.
Freed said the department will try to offer the program sometime in the spring. There is no charge to attend the program. Men and women -- young and old -- can attend, she said.
"We encourage everyone to learn more about making good healthy choices as well as nutrition and exercise," Freed said.
For more information, contact Freed at (573) 471-4044.