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The University of Tennessee

UT Extension / Family and Consumer Sciences

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Health & Safety - Public Health Education Program Resources for FCS Agents

Dining with Diabetes


A cooking school program for people with diabetes and their families

What is Dining with Diabetes?

A program designed for people with diabetes and their family members. A three-class series that includes learning how to manage diabetes, food demonstrations, and tasting of healthy foods.

Classes are taught by Extension educators and other partners such as health educators, doctors, diabetes educators, American Diabetes Association representatives, nurses and pharmacists.

Who can participate?

People with diabetes and their family members, caregivers, and support persons can enroll in the program.

The University of Tennessee (UT) Extension is committed to increasing the understanding of diabetes, thus closing the gap between the way diabetes is viewed by Tennesseans and the way it should be viewed - as a serious, common, costly, yet controllable disease.

County UT Extension educators deliver the Dining with Diabetes Program in collaboration with other county health care professionals. Community awareness about diabetes is increased through media activities conducted by UT Extension educators. These professionals serve as health messengers who promote the educational programs and resources available to diabetics in their communities and disseminate diabetes information to persons with diabetes and their caregivers. All of UT Extension's educational activities support the goals and educational messages of the National Diabetes Education Program (, the Tennessee Department of Health's Diabetes Control Program ( and the American Diabetes Association (

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Program Goals

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Program Objectives

After attending the Dining with Diabetes Program, participants will:

  1. Enhance their knowledge about healthy food choices for the diabetic diet.
  2. Understand the importance of managing their diabetes.
  3. Learn healthy versions of familiar foods.
  4. Use proper cooking techniques for such products as artificial sweeteners, reduced fat replacers, and herbs and spices.
  5. Get motivated to make specific changes by taste-testing new recipes.
  6. Recognize that University of Tennessee Extension educators can provide basic information about diabetes and nutrition in partnership with health professionals in their communities.
  7. Share and learn from one another.
  8. Have fun and learning new eating skills.

Dining with Diabetes (pdf) - Program brochure

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What Dining with Diabetes Isn't

  • Does not replace diabetes counseling delivered by a qualified health professional.
  • Does not provide individualized meal plans for participants.
  • Does not provide individualized goals for calories, carbohydrates, fat and sodium.

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What Dining with Diabetes Is!

Community education program which is designed to:

  • Offer a social environment conducive for developing new knowledge and skills through interactive cooking demonstrations and tasting of foods.
  • Builds self-efficacy through social support of others - participants and instructors - in the class.
  • Leads to other social support activities for the participants such as county support groups, walking programs and other learning opportunities.
  • Provides a recipe book and other educational resources participants can refer to after the program.

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Where Are Classes Held?

Locations are selected that are convenient and accessible to community members. Examples of sites include: senior centers, wellness centers, churches, workplace, hospitals, health department nutrition demonstration center, and county UT Extension offices.

When Are the Classes?

UT Extension educators try to schedule classes at the best times for people in their counties. Classes are usually held in spring and fall. The day of the week and the time of day may vary from county to county.

How Do People Enroll?

Contact your county UT Extension office to find out how to enroll.

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Facts about Diabetes

Diabetes is a disabling, deadly disease and on the rise in Tennessee.

  • Diabetes is the sixth leading cause of death in Tennessee.
  • Over 8% of Tennesseans have reported having been diagnosed with diabetes.
  • Diabetes is the primary cause of blindness, non-traumatic amputations of lower extremities, and kidney failure among adults.
  • Diabetes mellitus (DM), a chronic disease caused by a relative or absolute lack of insulin, is manifested by symptomatic glucose intolerance.
  • The goal in the management of DM is to achieve tight glycemic control and to maintain the blood glucose as near to "normal" as possible. The normal blood glucose level ranges between 70 and 120 mg/dL.
  • Persistent elevation of the glucose concentration over the normal range can increase the risk of serious complications.
  • Diabetes Control and Complications Trail showed that keeping blood glucose levels close to normal slows onset and progression of eye, kidney and nerve diseases caused by diabetes.
  • Diabetes is a costly disease in Tennessee. One in seven health care dollars is spent on diabetes care in the United States. Diabetes accounts for 27% of this country's entire Medicare budget.

Diabetes is a self-management disease.

What is pre-diabetes?
Pre-diabetes is a condition in which blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not high enough for a diagnosis of diabetes. People with pre-diabetes are at higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes and heart disease. The good news is, if you have pre-diabetes, you can reduce your risk of getting diabetes. With modest weight loss and moderate physical activity, you can delay or prevent type 2 diabetes and even return to normal glucose levels.

What is diabetes?
Diabetes means your blood glucose (often called blood sugar) is too high. Your blood always has some glucose in it because your body needs glucose for energy to keep you going. But too much glucose in the blood isn't good for your health.

  • Diabetes is a daily self-management disease. Approximately three hours a year is spent with a health care professional. The rest of the year a person is left to manage their disease.
  • Self-management is the key to controlling diabetes in order to slow the onset and progression of complications.
  • The effective management of diabetes often requires lifestyle changes for the individual, including commitment to self-management of the disease, self-monitoring of blood glucose, nutrition, exercise, skin and foot care,eye care, taking medications, partnering with health care providers and learning about the disease.
  • Studies have shown that persons with diabetes do not know how to manage their diabetes and are dissatisfied with the lack of education from their health care providers.
  • Diabetics often lack the self-confidence in their ability to control blood sugar.
  • Without the proper education and management skills, diabetes can be frustrating and difficult to live with.
  • Self-care education is the most basic tool of diabetes care. It is important that individuals with diabetes have the necessary knowledge and skills to manage their condition and increase their potential to lead a healthy and active life.

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Want to Learn More About Diabetes?

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Educational Materials



Children & Teens

Spanish Language Materials

To learn more about diabetes, visit the FCS Health and Safety - Diabetes web site links!

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State Contacts

Barbara (Bobbi) Clarke, PhD, RD
Professor & Extension Health Specialist,
Co-Director UT Center for Community Health Literacy
University of Tennessee Extension
Family & Consumer Sciences
119 Morgan Hall
Knoxville, TN 37996-4501
Telephone: (865) 974-8197
Fax: (865) 974-5370
Betty Greer, PhD, RD
Professor and Extension Nutrition Specialist
University of Tennessee Extension
Family & Consumer Sciences
119 Morgan Hall
Knoxville, TN 37996-4501
Telephone: (865) 974-7402
Fax: (865) 974-3234

For more information about the UT Extension Health & Safety programs, please contact your local County Extension FCS Agent .