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WVU course helps diabetics learn helpful lifestyle skills

Do you or someone you love have diabetes? It is a growing problem in the United States, but the good news is that complications can be avoided by careful management of the disease.

To help people with diabetes take charge of their health, WVU Continuing Professional Education and WVU Extension Service are once again offering the popular online course “Dining with Diabetes,” beginning March 6.

Diabetes, which involves blood sugar levels, can be confusing and challenging.

According to the course instructor, Cindy Fitch, retired associate dean of programming and research at WVU Extension, uncontrolled diabetes creates changes in the body that can lead to serious complications, including blindness, lower leg amputation, kidney failure, sexual dysfunction and heart attack or stroke.

“That is the bad news, but the good news is that by learning self-management skills, people with diabetes can completely avoid these problems,” she said.

“One important aspect of self-management that people often overlook is to see their healthcare provider on a regular basis. Also, if you have a prescription for medicine, be sure to take it every day according to the instructions.”

She said other important self-management skills include planning meals for consistent carbohydrate intake, being physically active and checking your feet for sores.

“In general, people with diabetes need to be on a healthy diet that would be appropriate for anyone,” Dr. Fitch said. “However, since diabetes changes how the body handles carbohydrates, people with diabetes need to be more aware of how much carbohydrate they are eating and plan their meals to limit their carbohydrates to just the amount that they need.”

“Dining with Diabetes” will provide guidance on easy ways to manage carbohydrate intake, choosing nourishing foods that support heart health, balancing carbohydrate intake with physical activity and preparing healthier versions of favorite foods.

The course includes two modules for each week. The first module is written information about a specific topic with suggested activities, opportunities for reflection in an on-line journal and an ungraded quiz for participants to test their knowledge.

The second module is a short video cooking demonstration of some diabetes-friendly recipes, which can be downloaded and printed. Class participants can go through the modules at any time during the week that is convenient for them.

The course also includes interactions with Fitch, who is a registered dietitian, and with other participants in the course. This will allow everyone to get answers to their questions and to learn from each other.

“Participants in the course will be encouraged to ask questions, share ideas and connect with other people who have similar goals and struggles,” Fitch said.

“Being able to communicate, even in this format, will help us to support each other and learn from each other. Learning together can be more meaningful than learning alone.”

Cindy Fitch is a registered dietitian with more than 30 years of experience working with children and their families in community, clinical and academic settings. In 1999, she joined the Human Nutrition and Foods faculty at WVU. During that time, she taught undergraduate and graduate level nutrition courses, specializing in maternal and child nutrition. She joined the WVU Extension Service as a food and nutrition specialist in 2007.

“Dining with Diabetes” includes eight sessions and is available online 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The cost is $99.

Registration is going on now and is available online at or by calling 1-800-253-2762, #3. Registration closes Friday, March 3.

WVU Continuing Professional Education provides a variety of professional and personal enrichment courses for the lifetime learner. For more information, see the website at or follow WVU CPE on Twitter at @WVUContinuingEd.