By Joe Torok

Healthy appetites: Lite Delight

Standing in a small kitchen that resembled a set from a Food Network cooking program, Ruth Doughty stirred a pot of thick turkey chili last Tuesday night, as parmesan chive biscuits turned golden brown in the oven.

Doughty, an assistant with MSU Extension’s Nutrition Education Program for the last 10 years, was helping to lead a class for people living with type 2 diabetes held at the Extension’s office at the Ingham County Health Department on South Cedar Street in Lansing.

The "Lite Delight: Diabetes" class is designed to give instruction, recipes and samples for people living or caring for someone with type 2 diabetes. Millions of Americans live with the disease, which is often diagnosed in adulthood and characterized by abnormally high blood glucose levels.

While Doughty stirred the pot, dieti cian Carolyn Isenga explained the physiology of type 2 diabetes to a small group of students, contrasting bodily responses of someone with the disease with those of a healthy adult. "We’re not suggesting any individual meal plans or calorie levels," Isenga said, emphasizing the need for those with type 2 diabetes to stay in regular contact with their physician. "This is kind of a refresher course for people diagnosed at a hospital or by their doctors [who] haven’t had much information since."

At the beginning of class, Isenga explained how the blood of someone with type 2 diabetes becomes supersaturated with sugar from a poor diet and lack of exercise, negatively impacting blood vessels and circulation, especially the small capillary structures found in the eyes (vision loss is a common symptom of diabetes) and extremities of the hands and feet.

Four students listened attentively, occasionally consulting a folder of literature provided with the class. Isenga completed diagrams on flip chart paper, as beeps from a kitchen timer filled the air, along with the aroma of chili spices.

are coming in eating the same thing over and over again because of what
they think it will do to their blood sugar," said Joyce McGarry, an MSU
Extension educator for 12 years. "We’re trying to help them understand
that they can eat healthy and eat good and have a lot of variety."

who enroll in the class, which costs $20 per individual or $30 per
couple, also receive a binder full of revised recipes based on a
University of Virginia nutritional program for people with type 2

The U.S.
Department of Agriculture regularly publishes healthy eating guidelines
for balanced nutrition; you may remember the Four Food Groups campaign
from childhood, which has since morphed into the Food Pyramid. While
the pyramid is instructive for people with type 2 diabetes, the class
also emphasizes another diagram that describes a day’s worth of meals
on a single plate. One half should contain vegetables and leafy greens,
while the remaining two quarters should include meat, oils, grains and
starchy fruits and vegetables.

served up piping hot turkey chili, mild with hearty chunks of ground
turkey breast, beans and slivers of onion. A mixed vegetable gratin
combined a bed of zucchini with bell peppers topped with thick slices
of tomato and sprinkled with bread crumbs, parmesan cheese and various
herbs and spices.

in the evening, Isenga prepared a key lime pie with sugar free gelatin,
light whipped cream and lime yogurt and reduced fat graham crackers,
all dressed with quarters of fresh lime slices.

After an hour of instruction and questions, students sampled each of the four recipes prepared for the evening.

was the third class of the year, and McGarry hopes to run additional
classes every couple of months. A healthy holiday cooking demonstration
is tentatively slated for the next seesion in an effort to mitigate the
damage of the oncoming annual food-gorging season.

emphasized the need to inform the general public as well as people with
type 2 diabetes about healthy eating, so they can feel empowered to
make wise decisions and permanent dietary changes. "We want to motivate
people to cook well at home; it’s a very serious disease," McGarry
said. "We’re all about healthy lifestyles; that’s what we do."

For information on future classes, contact Ingham County MSU Extension at (517) 887-4588 or cpkue@ingham. org.