Learning you have diabetes can be overwhelming at first. There are many new things to learn and it can be difficult to know where to start, especially when most of what you hear is what you are not supposed to eat. Dining with Diabetes is a new program to be offered by Schuylkill County's Cooperative Extension Office at multiple locations between now and the end of June. The first Dining with Diabetes Program will be held in Tamaqua and a second series of workshops are scheduled in Pottsville in May. A third workshop, possibly in Ringtown, is being discussed for June implementation.

The Dining with Diabetes Program is designed to help individuals with Type II diabetes understand some of the most important things they need to know about how to manage their diabetes. A nutrition specialist will facilitate the program and be available to answer questions; an extension educator will be handling the food demonstrations. This program will provide you, or your family members, with information about the important numbers you need to know, planning healthy meals, healthy food preparation and physical activity

Classes will be offered once weekly for four consecutive weeks with a three-month follow-up class. Each class will run approximately 2 hours and will offer the opportunity to see how easily these recipes can be prepared and sample them during the class. Participants will also receive educational information and have question / answer time with the nutrition specialist. The class will include an opportunity for a brief period of exercise with demonstrations by video and by the instructor; participants will need to complete a brief questionnaire about their physical health prior to engaging in the exercise portion.

Lab tests to measure HbA1c and lipid levels will be provided at the beginning and the end of the program. There is a registration fee, which will include testing costs and discounts are available for multiple family members. Participants will also receive, without additional cost, several educational booklets from the Joslin Institute at Harvard, a pedometer to assist in walking exercise, an exercise DVD, an exercise band, and a collection of easy to make recipes that will please family members as well as keep you within the guidelines for management of your diabetes.

In Tamaqua, classes are scheduled to be held at the Salvation Army Building, 105 W. Broad St., beginning April 19 and then be held the following Mondays from 2-4 p.m.. Pottsville classes will be held at the Cooperative Extension/Ag Center Building on Thursdays, 6-8 p.m, beginning May 27.

For more information, or to register, contact Yvonne Szpara at 570-622-4225 extension 13, or email to yms2@psu.edu. Class size will be limited to allow ample time for participants to have group and individual discussions with the diabetes educator.