Penticton class offers recipe for change

Nutrition education series provides cooking hints for seniors with diabetes

Jackie Belisle

Jackie Belisle

When Bertha Davies was diagnosed with diabetes last year, her life changed significantly.

“It especially changed the way I think about meals,” she said.

The struggle was finding the right balance of eating properly to maintain her health and finding a variety of foods that she could do that with. It is why she joined a free six-week nutrition education series for seniors, a collaboration with the Salvation Army Penticton and the Canadian Diabetes Association.

After only her first class, Davies was already impressed with all she had learned. A spread of about 20 different vegetables showed her that she doesn’t have to stick to the same old boring foods to maintain her diabetes. On this day, the group of 12 seniors made lasagna, salad, hummus and pita bread, roasted vegetables and peach cobbler.

“It is awesome,” said Ellen Hibak. “I’m looking forward to coming back next week. I think this course would be good for everyone, not just those of us with diabetes.”

More than nine million Canadians are living with diabetes or pre-diabetes, according to the Canadian Diabetes Association. If left untreated or improperly managed, diabetes can result in a variety of complications including heart disease, kidney disease, eye disease, nerve damage and more. The six-week class aims to educate seniors about diabetes and that having the disease does not mean giving up traditional foods. The class will even go on a field trip to a grocery store to learn how to read nutritional labels.

Lorraine Pattison is the class nutrition consultant, who recently received training about eating with diabetes. Pattison is also available to speak to schools, churches, organizations and other groups on healthy eating.

“Really it is about becoming mindful about what we eat, and eating in moderation is key,” said Pattison. “This is not only for people with diabetes but for everyone. It is about making food fun.”

Pattison said one issue for seniors is the amount of food they make for a meal, which can be challenging if there is only one or two people eating.

“You don’t want to be throwing stuff out all the time. Here we teach people how to reuse leftovers for other dishes,” said Pattison. “The meals the diabetes association comes up with are easy to make, very tasty, there is very little salt used. You get the flavour of the food.”

Barb Stewart, Penticton program co-ordinator for the Salvation Army, said Interior Health approached her with the idea to host the classes.

“I knew immediately that we should do this because in the community kitchen we receive a lot of feedback about people wanting information about diabetes. There were so many questions about diabetes and other things that I was in constant contact with Interior Health,” said Stewart.

The classes that run every Monday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. are full, but Stewart said there is a possibility they will be held again. For more information contact her at 250-492-4788.