Ending Type 2 Diabetes One Exercise, Nutrition, and Gardening Class at a Time

How to Introduce Food Diaries to Diabetes Prevention Program Participants

In Nutrition Class on June 23, 2010 at 5:25 PM

Elizabeth begins cultivating Diabetes Prevention Program participants’ investment in using Food Diaries from Session I.

“Not knowing exactly what you eat or how much you exercise every day is like trying to buy a bicycle without knowing how much money you have in the bank; you wouldn’t know how much to spend, save, or borrow! Being aware of what you ate yesterday, however, makes it possible for you to know what would be wise for you to eat today. Knowing how much you exercised yesterday makes it easy for you to decide how to exercise today.”

People’s interest is peaked at this point, but owning the Diary as their personal tool for healthy living is not yet present.

“What did you eat for breakfast yesterday, Lucy?”

“A piece of toast.”

Elizabeth nods solemnly. ” Thank you! A piece of toast. Anything else?”

“Um, a cup of coffee also.”

“Thank you!” Elizabeth smiles. ” Anything else?”

Elizabeth teaches Diabetes Prevention Program participants how to use Food Diaries

“No. I don’t think so.” Lucy responds quickly.

The whole group is now listening intently, suspicious of Elizabeth’s grin and apparent enthusiasm.

“Was there anything else you had for breakfast yesterday?” She asks.

Lucy, somewhat surprised, takes a moment to think. “Ah yes, I had a glass of orange juice. I think I also tasted my mom’s torta.”

Elizabeth turns to the rest of the group, and declares with compassion and intensity, “It is difficult to remember what we eat, isn’t it? For that reason, it is sometimes easy to fool ourselves when it comes to our own health. But you ladies are committed to living long and vital lives, no?” Everyone concurs. “I am going to therefore provide you with a tool to use for the next 12-weeks of the program and on an ongoing basis as well. It’s called the Food Diary.”

Elizabeth then gages one of the more important factors influencing the efficacy of the Food Diary tool: participant literacy rate. Although their ability to use the Food Diaries will become abundantly clear within the next few weeks, she likes to get a general sense of people’s comfort levels from the start. “Who here likes to read or write?” A few people raise their hands. Elizabeth, in true form, thanks them for their candor.

At this point everyone is given a Food Diary, and Elizabeth proceeds to describe how to fill it out. Because the assignment is so unfamiliar and often jarring for people in the beginning, Elizabeth requests that they simply document the contents of their meals and physical activities from day to day. She coaches them to ignore portions and nutrition facts for the time being.

Elizabeth closes that component of the class with a reminder that using the Food Diary is central to avoiding diabetes, and their participation is correlated closely with their success in the program.

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