We are what we eat, so Tanner Health System’s Get Healthy, Live Well is helping patients overcome socioeconomic hurdles to a healthier diet and lifestyle with a new, innovative pilot program: Food As Medicine.
The landmark initiative provides education, coaching and nutrition support for eligible patients and their families to help manage disease risks for diabetes and high blood pressure and make lifestyle changes. Diabetes and high blood pressure rates in Georgia exceed national averages and are growing.
A unique program feature provides individualized health coaching, free healthy food weekly, fun cooking classes on how to prepare it — reflecting the important link between diet and the management of diabetes and high blood pressure.
“We are committed every day to helping patients across west Georgia improve their health.
There is a direct link between poor diet and diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure,” said Mary Chitwood, RDN, LD, of Get Healthy, Live Well. “We’re pleased to offer an innovative new program that educates patients on these serious health conditions and provides the tools they need to make healthier food choices for themselves and their families.”
Individuals may apply for participation in the free program, consisting of 12 weekly sessions for diabetes and six weekly sessions for high blood pressure. Eligibility requirements include a confirmed diagnosis by a physician.
If an individual does not have a physician, a referral for one will be provided.
Once enrolled in the program, patients receive a “prescription” for Get Healthy, Live Well Healthy Food Farmacy where they can pick up boxed fresh produce that they can use to prepare nutritious meals for themselves and their families.
The Healthy Food Farmacy is in the new Get Healthy, Live Well headquarters at 148 Clinic Avenue, across from Tanner Medical Center/Carrollton — the former site of Children’s Healthcare of West Georgia.
The fresh produce in the Healthy Food Farmacy is important to support healthier food choices that will drive blood sugar and blood pressure numbers down.
Fresh fruits and vegetables:
- Have less salt and sugar than processed foods
Contain fiber, helping you feel full longer, and
- Contain more nutrients than processed foods
Carroll County resident Don Young joined the new Food as Medicine program for diabetes nine months ago at the recommendation of his physician Fredrick Makori, MD, and credits it for helping him reduce his a1c blood sugar level from 13 to 9.5 and lose 50 pounds. And he’s not done.
“I didn’t even know what my A1C was when I started,” said Young. “I thought I was good, but I was really already experiencing some of the side effects and didn’t realize it.”
Although admittedly not the cook in his family, Young said the cooking classes using fresh, healthy ingredients helped him recognize his poor eating habits and begin transitioning to healthier options with less fat, sugar and salt.
“The dishes prepared in the cooking class were fantastic and blew me away! I would never have thought of those recipes on my own. Before this program, I ate the way I always had growing up, and that tasted great but wasn’t good for my health,” said the two-time heart attack sufferer.
“I have learned a lot. I now think about what I am eating, and what’s contained in those foods. It has been life changing,” said Young.
Individuals interested in the program can contact Get Healthy, Live Well at 770-812-5954 or email@example.com. To learn more or sign-up, visit tanner.org/foodasmedicine.