Healthy Living

"Dining With Diabetes" Reaches Penn State With its Online Course

"Dining With Diabetes" Reaches Penn State With its Online Course

Patients newly-diagnosed with diabetes may have a difficult time adjusting to a new lifestyle of constantly managing the disease and eliminating certain foods from their diet. Especially when they knew nothing about the disease before.

The ‘Dining With Diabetes’ program was created for newly diagnosed patients and consists of a series of fours sessions that include all sorts of information for diabetics. In this course, patients learn more about the disease, watch demonstrations, participate in taste-testing events, exercise, and share stories about their experience. The objective of this program is to ease patients who have just received their diabetes diagnosis and need to adjust to their new lifestyle and to show patients that though diabetes requires constant attention and care, it doesn't mean the disease should take over their lives.

The Dining with Diabetes course has been available for some time in many states of the country. However, this past December, the program opened an online-only course offered by Penn State Extension, so that anyone can hop online and learn about their disease, as well as helpful tips to coexist with it regardless of where they are.

Because diabetes is a lifelong condition, any information about the disease is crucial. Patients must make modifications to their lifestyle in order to coexist with their disease. Dining with Diabetes assists in this process by teaching the patients the ropes of how to manage their condition. To this end, the online program is divided into 5 important courses: what is diabetes; healthy eating, which includes meal planning, serving sizes, and carb counting; heart-healthy eating; medications, which include monitoring and goal setting; and dining out. Each one of these sections is tailored towards imparting valuable insights to help the patients manage their condition.

The program itself is geared towards all patients, regardless of their knowledge of the disease. To this end, each session can be viewed individually and in any order. You will be able to find supplementary booklets and other information among the many sections of the program. These supplementary materials can be viewed at any time, and for as many times as the patient requires; they can even be printed out if necessary.

This last part is very important, according to Debbie Griffie, extension educator and program coordinator, as she mentions that, “for many people, making positive changes in eating habits, physical activity and adherence to medication can help improve their diabetes status.” In this sense, having permanent access to all these online resources can greatly help the patients to adjust to their condition and make sure that they are not causing more harm than good.

Griffie also states that, through their online curriculum—and in all their experience working on the program in other instances—most patients were able to experience important benefits, such as lowering their A1C and blood pressure. Their program also helps patients to acquire new lifestyle habits and changes to improve their overall health, without feeling that they are leaving too much on the table or making compromises that go against their personal preferences.

If interested, anyone can go and sign up to The Penn State Extension program, which is available here. According to the information in the website, the program costs $39 per person, and grants the user access for an entire year of new information. Right now, the program is only available in English, involves the mentioned 5 sections and is 8 hours long. 

About Diabetes

Diabetes can be classified, depending on its type, as a metabolic, or an autoimmune disorder.

Type 2 diabetes is a metabolic disorder where the person experiences a sudden and permanent decrease in insulin production due to a dysfunction of the pancreatic beta cells, the main producers of the vital hormone. Insulin is a vital substance in the metabolic process where glucose is converted into energy by the cell. Without it, glucose cannot be transported into the cell for processing and is excreted through the urine instead. This leads to consistently elevated blood sugar levels, as well as a life-threatening condition called diabetic ketoacidosis if left untreated.

Diabetic ketoacidosis is a state where the person’s blood becomes acidic due to the increased amount of ketones. Ketones are produced when the cells are unable to derive energy from glucose, and instead derive sustenance by burning fatty acids in the muscles. This process is called ketosis and is normal in elite athletes, or people following low-calorie diets.

In a controlled environment, this process is not dangerous. However, when a diabetic patient enters a state of ketosis, it is usually because their cells cannot obtain energy from glucose, and are deriving energy from their muscles. Consequently, a diabetic person experiences symptoms such as increased hunger and thirst, as well as an increased appetite.

In order to keep their blood sugar levels in check, a patient must rely on insulin injections. A diet low in sugar and carbohydrates, as well as partaking in plenty of exercises can greatly help in preserving their health.