Have you recently been diagnosed with diabetes? Do you feel like "I can't eat anything, everything I like is now forbidden!" Take a deep breath; you probably will need to make some changes in which foods you eat and how much you eat of them. Remember any time that you make changes in your lifestyle, it is the small steps that you take that lead to major changes over time. People with diabetes do need to watch their intake of carbohydrate foods, but they still need to eat carbohydrates everyday. Carbohydrates are those foods that provide quick energy to your body. Carbohydrate foods are broken down (metabolized) in the body to produce glucose (sugar) which provides fuel to the human body, much like an automobile uses gasoline. Without gas, our cars don't run. Where do we find carbohydrate foods when we look at the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) MyPyramid food guide? Carbohydrate foods are found in the GRAINS Group which includes cereals, breads, pasta, and rice; VEGETABLE Group particularly dried beans, peas, lentils, and other starchy vegetables like potatoes, winter squash, peas, and corn; FRUIT Group which includes all fruits and fruit juices; and the MILK Group which includes milk and yogurt. Although SWEETS and DESSERTS are not a food group by themselves, these foods are usually high in carbohydrate because of the ingredients used to make themsweeteners, flour, etc. People with diabetes are encouraged to eat a variety of healthy carbohydrates everyday. These healthy carbohydrates include whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and dried beans and peas. Counting carbohydrates can help you manage your blood sugar (glucose). Knowing what foods contain carbohydrate and how much carbohydrate in a food can be found on the Nutrition Facts food label. One carbohydrate unit is equal to 15 grams (g) of carbohydrate. Depending on your gender and the number of calories you need daily determines the amount of carbohydrate needed per day/per meal. Consultation with a Certified Diabetes Educator or a Registered Dietician can assist you with getting on track about the amount of carbohydrate you need everyday. Women can usually have three to four carb units (45-60 grams) at a meal. Men can usually have four to five carb units (60-75 grams) at a meal. Counting carbohydrates may be a new way of looking at food, but with a little practice and experience it becomes easier to make the calculations. Dont despair; you still need to eat lean protein foods like chicken, fish eggs, lean beef, and tofu, as well as "good" fat to have healthy, balanced meals! Occasionally you can still work in a piece of cake! Join Donna Hunt, RD, CDE, from the Rutland Regional Diabetes Center and Dianne Lamb, MEED, University of Vermont Extension Nutrition & Food Specialist for a Dining with Diabetes course beginning the last week of February at two locations in the Rutland area. During the course participants will learn about eating healthfully for diabetes, heart disease, and hypertension. Participants will also learn how to read and interpret a Nutrition Facts food label and count carbohydrate units. There will be demonstrations on preparing low-fat, low-sodium recipes and an opportunity for the participants to sample foods. Course registration is usually $12, but the Vermont Department of Health is underwriting the cost of registration at these two locations. Call the University of Vermont Extension at 773-3349 or 1-800-639-6977 to register! Rutland, Dining with Diabetes course meets on Tuesdays, February 26, March 4, & March 11 from 10 AM - 12 noon at the Grace Congregational Church on Court Street in Rutland. A light lunch will be included. Please pre-register by February 21st. Wallingford, Dining with Diabetes course will meet on Thursdays, February 28, March 6, & March 13 from 5:30-7:30 PM at the First Congregational Church on Route 7 in Wallingford. A light supper will be served. Please pre-register by February 25th. The University of Vermont Extension and USDA, cooperating, offer education and employment to everyone without regard to race, color, national origin, gender, religion, age, disability, political beliefs,sexual orientation, and marital or familial status.