While diabetes is no laughing matter, attendees at the Scotland Memorial Foundation’s second annual Diabetes Fair had plenty of fun this week while learning about healthy living.
Called “Living the Sweet Life!” the health fair focused on educating those with diabetes about lifestyle improvements – including information about diet, exercise and foot care.
“We were at capacity. This was a success, definitely,” said Scotland Memorial Foundation Executive Director Kirsten Dean of the event, which drew more than 120 to the Community Health and Rehabilitation Center adjacent to the hospital.
“In the end we unfortunately had to turn about 30 people away,” Dean said.
The fair was hosted in collaboration with the Scotland Health Care System, the Scotland County Health Department and the Healthy Carolinians organization.
Leading off a panel discussion on diabetes was Dr. Glenn R. Harris of Harris Family Practice. Harris used humor while speaking on general matters of diabetic health, telling the large group that poorly managed diabetes can damage their organs.
“You have to diet. There is not a pill for that chocolate cake,” Harris said.
Harris was positive about the progress made in battling diabetes nationwide and in the Laurinburg community.
“Our drugs are good and people are doing a better job of managing the disease. But I believe we can do a better job with ourselves,” Harris said.
Following Harris and talking specifically about diet was Robin Sirochman, a dietitian at Morrison Health Care Food Services.
According to Sirochman, a healthy diet must correctly answer three questions: “What you are eating, when you are eating and how much you are eating.”
“You need three balanced meals per day and to avoid fried foods,” Sirochman said.
An audible groan could be heard from the crowd when Sirochman said that it was important for people to take the skin off of their food.
“It’s bad for you,” she said.
An example of healthy eating was given earlier in the evening by Scotland Health Care Executive Chef Meagan Moore.
Moore designed a special buffet for fair attendees aimed at showing them that healthy eating can be enjoyable.
“With this meal we are teaching portion control. You can see that we have smaller portions than they might expect of potatoes and broccoli – and all of the desserts are sweetened with (artificial sweetener),” Moore said. “This will hopefully show people how they should be eating.”
Body movement is also an important way to battle diabetes, said Jennifer Sanford of Scotland Health Care’s Rehabilitation Services.
Sanford demonstrated the many and diverse exercises that can be done with a simple rubber therapy bands, including workouts that increase the heart rate and strengthen the upper and lower body.
Concluding the panel of experts was Dr. Millicent Brown of the Foot and Ankle Institute. Because the importance of monitoring feet is magnified in those with diabetic, Brown said that special footwear and frequent observation should become part of the diabetic’s life.
Prior to the panel of speakers fair attendees were invited to visit the nearly 20 exhibitors on-hand at the fair. Among the exhibitions was the Scotland Wound Healing Center, which offered free foot examinations to determine whether individuals have lost sensation in their feet.
“This is a test for what is called diabetic neuropathy. They will get a report card after the test to take back to their family doctor,” said Paula Love of the Wound Center.