Buckley workshop streamlines diet and portions for diabetics

With the diagnosis of diabetes comes a barrage of information, notes certified diabetes educator and registered nurse Diane Hagen. So to help folks wade through all the details, the Diabetes Association of Pierce County offers a series of care workshops – the first to begin at 11 a.m. Tuesday at the Buckley Senior Center.

The other two dates are Oct. 19 and Nov. 16, also at the center.

The Diabetes Association of Pierce County is a nonprofit volunteer agency dedicated to the improvement of the well-being of individuals with diabetes and their families. The agency stresses the importance of prevention and education.

According to information from the DAPC, diabetes mellitus is a disease that can be self-managed, but not yet cured. It affects the way the body uses food. During normal digestion the body converts sugar and starches in food to a simple sugar called glucose. The bloodstream carries glucose to the body cells where, with the help of insulin (a hormone produced in the pancreas), it is converted into quick energy for immediate use or is stored for future use.

Diabetes mellitus develops because the body does not produce enough insulin or because the insulin it produces is ineffective. Glucose accumulates in the kidneys and is passed off in the urine. Excess sugar in the urine and in the blood are classic signs of diabetes mellitus. The excess sugar coats the blood vessels and the cells and produces complications in the eyes, kidney, heart, and blood vessels.

Type 1 diabetes, formerly called juvenile onset, affects 5 percent of people with diabetes. It appears with abrupt onset, increased hunger, thirst, and increased urine.

Type 2, formerly called adult onset, affects 95 percent of people with diabetes. It can remain undetected for more than 10 years. It is most frequently seen in people who are overweight and/or have a family history.

The material presented at each free workshop is geared for individuals with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes mellitus and their family members or caregivers. The majority of attendees are adults 40 years and older. Each workshop is developed to give those who have not been to a diabetes class the opportunity to receive basic diabetes education.

Education is an important part in the treatment of diabetes mellitus. Education helps to prepare people with diabetes mellitus to make informed choices about their self care.

According to Hagen, carbohydrate counting, how to read a food label and portion size are probably the top three challenges people with diabetes mellitus deal with daily and need to incorporate into their lives, so that’s where the workshops begin.

Hagen said she tries to make it simple with tips and examples.

“When they leave they have one nugget of information they can use,” she said, “because it can be overwhelming.”

The association tries to keep the size of each workshop around 6 to 10 participants. Attendees receive a personalizes food plan the individual will be more likely use on a daily basis.

The workshops are open to anyone and take place in rural areas of Pierce County to reach people who may not have adequate transportation.

Other parts of the workshop will cover blood glucose monitoring, physical activity, treatment of high and low blood sugars, sick day care and how does good control help.”

For those unable to attend the Buckley workshops, DAPC is offering a class Saturday at the Puyallup Eagles. For information visit the Web site at

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