On World Diabetes Day, Jamie’s Ministry of Food Australia spoke to Diabetes New South Wales (NSW) dietitian, Mellissa, and a group of 17-25 year olds with Type 1 Diabetes who recently took part in Jamie’s Ministry of Food programme for Type 1 Diabetics.

Diabetes NSW supports people living with, and at risk of, diabetes. Diabetes NSW dietitian Mellissa was searching for a cooking program to assist young adults with independent living skills, including cooking and healthy eating.

“There is a real gap in services for teens and young adults transitioning into independent living and we feel strongly about getting some support in place for this vulnerable group,” explained Mellissa.

Mellissa found Jamie’s Ministry of Food in Wetherill Park and after discussions with Food Trainer Renée, Diabetes NSW made a group booking. The group were 17-25 year olds with Type 1 Diabetes who were in the process of moving out of home and wanted to learn to cook healthy, fast and delicious meals. Working with Diabetes NSW ensured the course recipes were appropriate for people with type 1 diabetes.

Diabetes NSW subsidized the cost of the Jamie’s Ministry of Food course and arranged for a Diabetes NSW dietitian to attend each class to provide specific advice relating to type 1 diabetes and suggest recipe alternatives where appropriate. Due to timing restraints it wasn’t always the same dietitian attending each week so a phone call was arranged between Renée and the dietitian the day prior to each class to touch base, discuss the recipe and provide an overview of the class.

The first class for the Diabetes NSW group took place on World Diabetes Day, 14th November. Through the interaction developed in the Jamie’s Ministry of Food program the young adults quickly bonded and by the end of the first class everyone sat together to enjoy the meal they had just cooked, talking and laughing whilst getting to know each other. Mellissa was pleased the group “were able to meet others their age with diabetes and learn how to put dietary advice into practice”.

One participant, Chloe “loved having the opportunity to meet new people and learn so many different new things about cooking. Being able to try new foods and learn ‘insider tips’ about cooking techniques and cooking in general has been great! The friendly and welcoming atmosphere made coming to the classes something I looked forward to!”

The participants’ confidence grew: their kitchen skills increased, and their ability to choose healthy foods and plan health meals in advance grew. Chloe said, “I feel more confident in making healthy choices when cooking. I have learnt so many things about cooking, especially with diabetes, and therefore I am able to plan meals to align with my dietary needs.”

Joshua enjoyed the Jamie’s Ministry of Food course, “it was an extremely friendly environment where I could learn basic cooking skills and understand nutritional information more clearly. All the meals cooked were simple enough to prepare on my own later. Also cooking healthy meals from scratch has been enjoyable.” Joshua is also cooking more at home. He said, “I cook every second night for myself and my housemates and we all love it! I’ve been able to share with them what I’ve learnt and now they also enjoy cooking for themselves.”

The course has also helped Joshua plan his meals. “It has helped me understand the savings of the food I’m preparing and how much per week I should be eating of certain foods. Definitely glad I did this course! Would do it again in a heartbeat.” Joshua drove all the way from Canberra to attend the final class because he didn’t want to miss it!

Other feedback from participants included that they found it “very worthwhile, wish it was a longer course and recommend it as an amazing opportunity to meet other diabetics, learn about cooking with the condition and integrate foods into our lifestyle.”

Participants valued the dietitian’s involvement in the class. One participant said, “it was really nice to hear someone comment on how things would specifically impact diabetes” and helpful to receive “extra info about living healthily with diabetes.” The dietitian was able to relate the Jamie’s Ministry of Food recipes and course to people living with diabetes.

Diabetes NSW’s participants and dietitian Mellissa recommend incorporating short education sessions run by the dietitian throughout the course to provide greater emphasis on diabetes to supplement their cooking skills with detailed diabetes education. For example, Mellissa recommended Healthy Eating for Type 1, Carb Counting for Type 1 and Q&A sessions, particularly. An introductory session was also suggested to outline the course content in relation to diabetes specific information. Based on feedback, Diabetes NSW felt it would be ideal to have the same dietitian attend all classes if possible.

All participants would recommend the Jamie’s Ministry of Food course to others and all reported being “very satisfied” with the course. Diabetes NSW also believed the Jamie’s Ministry of Food course would benefit people living with type 2 diabetes and have since made group bookings for type 2 diabetics and parent and child groups. We look forward to continuing to work with Diabetes NSW to implement their suggestions and continue to benefit people living with diabetes.