The Food for Life: Diabetes Initiative is the plant-based nutrition and cooking program for type 2 diabetes prevention and treatment developed by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. The intended audience for this program is people with diabetes, prediabetes (defined below), a family history or risk factors for developing diabetes, and their adult family members.
Diabetes is a major public health problem of epidemic proportions. Over twelve percent of the United States adult population has diabetes (up from 8 percent in 2007), and nearly one-third of those 65 and older have the disease. One out of four people with diabetes are unaware they have it, which means they are not being treated with a healthy diet or medications. Uncontrolled, diabetes can lead to complications from head to toe, including stroke, loss of vision, heart disease, kidney failure, and various problems due to nerve damage and circulatory problems, such as erectile dysfunction or lower-extremity amputation.
An even greater number of people have prediabetes (impaired fasting glucose, impaired glucose tolerance, or both), which mean they are at high risk for developing diabetes. With prediabetes, blood glucose levels are higher than normal, but not yet high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. There are 86 million people in the United States who have prediabetes and they are generally without symptoms. Recent research has shown that some long-term damage to the body, especially the heart and circulatory system, may already be occurring during prediabetes. A blood test is used to diagnose prediabetes. Fifteen to thirty percent of people with prediabetes will develop diabetes within five years. Weight loss can prevent or delay this onset.
An astonishing one in three children born in the year 2000 is at risk of developing type 2 diabetes (and one in two African Americans, Native Americans, and Hispanic Americans) in his or her lifetime, unless there are significant changes in diet and activity levels. Fortunately, type 2 diabetes is largely a disease of over-nutrition and sedentary lifestyle. The disease can be prevented, and complications can often be avoided or treated with a significant change in lifestyle.
Each two-hour class features a DVD, discussion, and the opportunity to taste plant-based dishes following a cooking demonstration. The series is a four-week program.
Class 1: How Foods Fight Diabetes
The road to diabetes does not have to be a one-way street. There is reason for hope! People who eat plant-based meals are less likely to ever develop diabetes, and for those who have diabetes, plant-based meals can help to improve blood sugar levels and prevent complications. These meals are affordable and can be quite delicious and satisfying. A low-fat, plant-based approach offers a new tool that many have found to be very useful. This session will review the latest science behind the approach, consider some simple ideas for getting started, sample dishes, and explore useful resources.
Class 2: The Power of Your Plate and Grocery Cart
Let’s get practical. This session provides the knowledge and resources for trying out a new way of eating. By using the tools provided, participants often experience better blood sugar levels, weight loss if needed, and other health benefits within a surprisingly short time. The Power Plate is a diagram that illustrates the essential food groups: vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and fruits. From these groups, participants will be assisted to create their own Weekly Meal Planner and learn how to navigate the grocery store to find the treasures (and avoid the troublemakers!) This session will discuss common concerns, including how to prevent and treat low blood sugar for those taking certain medications, and how to ease your transition into a filling, high-fiber way of eating. Additionally, participants will taste some of the staples they will want to bring home from the grocery store.
Class 3: Understanding Type 2 Diabetes
New research shows that reducing the fat we eat helps to reduce the fat that can build up in muscle cells, which can improve the body’s ability to use insulin. Common dietary fat-lowering techniques, such as taking the skin off the chicken or switching to low-fat milk, do not go far enough in reducing the total amount of fat for many people to really repair this underlying problem in type 2 diabetes. Fortunately, the Power Plate foods are all naturally low in fat. Sample several flavorful dishes which are sure to become favorites—there’s a chance you won’t even miss the fat.
Class 4: Designing a Diet for Maximum Weight Control
This is not a “diet” that asks you to walk around hungry or feel deprived. How can you lose weight, if needed, without skipping meals or limiting your portions? In a word, it’s all about FIBER. Plant foods have it, animal foods do not. Fiber is what makes us feel full, and, as a bonus, it also helps to control blood sugar levels, protects against certain cancers, and, of no small importance, it keeps us “regular.” Learn to comfortably fill up on whole foods and watch the pounds melt away. Enjoy some delicious high-fiber dishes—without any cardboard taste.
PLUS: Three Months Coaching
PLUS: Starting an Ongoing Genesis 1:29 Health Program
- Why a Health Program?
- Benefits to the congregation
- Possible health program structures
- Activity Possibilities
- Community Outreach
- Measuring Success
- And others…