Cooking school teaching diabetics new lifestyle

By Helena Rodriguez, PNT Staff Writer

Janelle Newberry of Portales doesn’t have diabetes, but her 3-year-old grandson does, and that’s one reason she’s attending the Kitchen Creations Cooking School for Diabetics and Their Families.

More than two dozen diabetics, or family and friends of diabetics, are attending a free, four-part class at Eastern New Mexico University in Portales which began on Monday night and continues with three more weekly sessions through April 21. The hands-on class, which is filled to capacity, is sponsored by the Roosevelt County Cooperative Extension and involves weekly cooking lessons, information, insulin checks and even an exercise component.

During the first three-hour class session this week, participants cooked up grilled porkchops, southwestern slaw, Spanish rice, pineapple salsa and frozen peach melba cream.

“All we’ really going to do is talk about the way we should be eating anyway,” explained Connie Moyers, the Roosevelt County Extension Home Economist. “Diabetics need to be more concerned about how many carbohydrates they eat a day.” She said diabetics need to control carbohydrates without adding extra sugar, sodium and fat, and need to eat plenty of fruit and vegetables.

Foods high in carbohydrates include breads, potatoes and sweets.

Ann King, a diabetic and a participant, said, “I came to try and find out what I need to eat. Sometimes, I think I’m all right, but the other day I ate a package of instant oatmeal, strawberries and had a small glass of milk and my blood-sugar level got up to 154. My doctor has told me to stay between 70 to 120.”

King has been a diabetic for one-and-a-half years and believes she started showing diabetic symptoms shortly before she had a stroke. She now takes insulin injections and pills.

Newberry said she has to stop and consciously think about what to make when she cooks for her grandson. “He doesn’t like many vegetables, so I thought this class might help,” she said. Newberry’s daughter, Jana Strickland, is also attending the cooking school.

Dolly Salas, a diabetic of 40 years, is among the cooking school participants. Her first child died in 1979 after only surviving for 10 hours. Salas said, “When I was carrying him, I had too much insulin in my body.” She believes that if she knew everything about diabetics back then that she does now, that perhaps her child would have lived. Salas has two daughters who are borderline diabetics, a sister who is a diabetic and another diabetic sister who is no longer living.

Judy Cox, a registered dietitian with Fresenius Medical Care in Clovis, is assisting Moyers with the diabetics cooking classes. Cox believes the classes really help diabetics maintain their blood-sugar levels, commenting, “I know a lot of people who have taken classes like this and doctors come back to me and say this is awesome.”

“Most insurance companies will pay for three hours of diabetes education. I wish every newly-diagnosed diabetic would have to take 16 hours of classes, like this class. There is so much more we can do in this class, compared to a class that is just talk and lecture, because this class is hands-on,” Cox added.

The class will also meet on April 7, 14 and 21. Additional dishes the class will make include pumpkin pie, Tex-Mex fish fillets, green chile chicken enchiladas, spaghetti squash and fruit slushes.

Another Kitchen Creations Cooking School for Diabetics & Their Families will be offered next spring.