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Cutline:  Certified Diabetic Educator Beverly Norris discusses healthy food choices with shoppers at Food Lion in Cape Charles and Onley.


Riverside Diabetes Educator Leads Food Lion Shopping Trip

CAPE CHARLES, VA –Cruising down the aisles of a grocery store, especially when hungry, can fuel the temptation to buy everything that's chocolate-covered, frozen or freshly baked. For the majority of people, that's ok in moderation.

But for Gordon Lee Ward, giving in to temptation can have serious consequences.

The 78-year-old Ward, who has lived with diabetes for, as he said, "a good 20 years," used to be able to "just take a pill" to keep his diabetes under control. Now, he has to take insulin to manage his blood sugar, so each bite of food he puts in his mouth affects his blood, his disease and his quality of life.

On June 23, Ward and a handful of others who either have diabetes or cook for someone with diabetes attended an in-store education class. Riverside Home Health and Food Lion hosted the Cape Charles education along with a similar class in the Food Lion in Onley. Beverly Norris, a Riverside Registered Nurse, Certified Diabetic Educator and Certified Health Coach, led patients through each aisle in the stores to teach them about making better food choices and reading labels to better live with diabetes.

Norris calls the event a "doctor favorite" because physicians find that their patients learn real-life tactics for improving their nutrition and thereby improving their control of their disease. An estimated 30 million Americans, or nearly 10 percent of the population, live with diabetes, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Diabetes Statistics Report.

The toughest thing about living with diabetes, he said during the trip?

When asked what was most difficult about living with diabetes, Ward said, "Every doggone thing. I went to a birthday party last Saturday with ice cream and cake, and I couldn't eat any of that."

It's not Thanksgiving or Christmas that will do a diabetic in, Norris said. It's the routine choices made the other 363 days of the year. The family dinners. The birthday parties.

During the education with Norris, Ward and the others learned that reading nutrition labels and watching portion sizes are the keys to successfully controlling diabetes. Instead of restricting certain foods forever, Norris emphasized that a food that maxes out Ward's carbohydrate limit can be balanced out with other foods that have no carbs, but Ward and the other class attendees must pay close attention to achieve that balance.

Norris packed a wealth of information into each aisle of the shopping trip, focusing on educating participants on labels, food choices, portion control, and blood sugar.

Published: June 24, 2014