Healthy eating can be a challenge for patients who must make ends meet on a fixed monthly income. For one couple, Mr. and Mrs. D in a six-week QIN-QIO-led Diabetes Self-Management class, low income was just one of the barriers keeping them from a healthier lifestyle.
Many of the participants for this Diabetes Self-Management Workshop faced the low-income barrier, residing in the Madison Park’s Affordable Housing development in Roxbury, Massachusetts. Two of the participants, however, had to confront an additional challenge. Diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes over 20 years ago, this Hispanic couple had been informed that they needed to follow healthier meal guidelines. Accustomed to preparing meals typical of their country of origin, their diet consisted of meals prepared in fats, such as butter, oil, and pig ears/feet; and foods high in carbohydrates, such as bread, rice, and beans. These foods are common staples in many Hispanic countries, but continuing to follow this diet was holding them back from experiencing the benefits of a healthier eating plan.
Remaining sensitive to the cultural background of the couple, the QIN-QIO instructor and staff worked with them and others in the class on identifying unhealthy foods and replacing them with healthy, wholesome alternatives. “We encouraged the class to use their Living a Healthy Life with Chronic Disease book and internet sites such as the American Diabetes Association to find ways to cut out extra fats and identify a correct serving of carbohydrates on their plate. The class came up with a creative suggestion to use measuring cups as serving utensils to ensure proper serving size,” said the QIN-QIO leader.
During the second week of the six-week class, class participants made simple initial “action plans” to take small steps toward healthier eating. Mrs. D decided not to use “pig ear” in her cooking for the first week. She came back with a successful report – they achieved that action plan! Based on that success, action plans that followed included planning to not use extra butter for the week, measuring the rice and beans, and other modifications to their cooking and diet that made a difference. During the final class, Mr. D reported that due to his wife’s healthier cooking, he lost five pounds!
Staff from the QIN-QIO expect that the lessons learned and the successes achieved toward healthier eating during the class will continue. During the classes, participants became very close. As they all live in close proximity, in the same neighborhood housing village, they plan on helping each other to continue making action plans and motivating each other to continue on their new healthy living journey.