‚Äč(L to R) Cheryl Aitkens, Patient

Carmen PrionFrank, Dietitian

How do I read a food label? Which foods have carbohydrates? How much weight should I lose?

If you have similar questions, you're not alone. As part of the Ask a Dietitian group nutrition appointments offered by Calgary Foothills Primary Care Network, you can ask a registered dietitian your own questions, and learn from others. You'll hear about portion sizes, understanding food labels, and how to make good choices when grocery shopping.

These free, small group appointments are confidential and designed for people who need help with:

  • weight management
  • diabetes or pre-diabetes
  • high blood pressure or cholesterol

Long-Term Solution

Cheryl Aitkens was at a regular check-up when her family doctor suggested she might find it valuable to join an Ask a Dietitian group appointment. "I wanted to attend the Ask a Dietitian program based on what my doctor said, and simply because I've struggled with weight my whole life," Cheryl said.

Having fluctuated on diets before, Cheryl embraced strategies learned at Ask a Dietitian that weren't fast or drastic, but fit into her busy, everyday life. "What I took away was to make my goals measurable," Cheryl said. "I discovered that change really does take time. You can't do everything overnight. So often I have run headfirst into a program, and have only had success in the short term.".

Learning from Others
For Cheryl, having the chance to hear questions from other group participants was a pleasant surprise. "I found it very intriguing to hear what other people asked, and what I was able to learn from their questions. They asked things that I had never even thought of. It was a very rewarding experience."

Because group appointments are shaped by participants' questions, each session is unique, according to registered dietitian Carmen Prion-Frank. "You really get to learn from each other and realize that you're not alone in making these changes."
Patients have access to tried-and-tested tools and resources, and can share as much or as little as they wish during these confidential appointments. "One of the great aspects of the Ask a Dietitian groups is that you can come back as many times as you need," Carmen said, of the ongoing support available.
Balanced Outlook
Cheryl's health history made her the perfect candidate to take part in all three types of Ask a Dietitian group appointments.
"Attending all three gave me a really balanced outlook," she said. "I've learned how to cook better, I've learned how to add more fibre and vegetables to my meals, and now I know how to read a food label, so when I shop I make better choices.
"For anyone who is interested in attending this program, I would highly recommend it. The hard work is still up to you, but it gives you the tools to put in your toolbox. If you find that you're struggling, you can go back time after time. It's not a one-shot deal."

Calgary Foothills PCN offers other health workshops to help patients better manage physical and mental health. Workshops include Happiness Basics, Craving Change and Tobacco Cessation.

This article originally appeared on the Calgary Foothills PCN website. To learn more, please go to www.cfpcn.ca