Farm Fresh offers diabetes coaching

Published 9:28 pm Friday, April 21, 2017

If you’ve ever wondered the difference between a green pea and a green bean, why a potato isn’t necessarily the healthiest produce choice or what’s so great about Greek yogurt, Farm Fresh has the perfect solution.

The store offers store tours as part of its My Diabetes Coach initiative, which brings together pharmacists and dietitians to help shoppers navigate the ins and outs of eating healthy to manage their diabetes or prevent its onset.

The initiative also includes a diabetes risk assessment and a series of classes designed to help people with diabetes set and achieve goals.


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“If I can touch one patient, one at a time, I’m happy,” said Michelle Harmon, pharmacist at the North Main Street Farm Fresh in Suffolk.

The companywide program aims to help more people become aware that they have diabetes, as there are thousands living with it who do not realize it.

It also hopes to help people manage their disease and improve their numbers.

A store tour is coming up on May 16, and the free diabetes screenings are ongoing through June 17.

“My purpose is to try to identify those that have it that don’t know they have it,” Harmon said.

Those who come in for a risk assessment will have their blood pressure, total cholesterol and weight checked, Harmon said. There will also be a finger stick to check their A1C, a measure of how well controlled their blood sugar has been over the past three months or so.

During the store tour, a pharmacist and dietitian will take customers throughout the store explaining all the keys to eating healthy.

The tour starts in the produce department, where Harmon said many people are shocked to learn that they should limit their intake of potatoes, corn and other starches.

“We spend a lot of time in the produce department,” she said. “We get a lot of questions with produce.”

The tour moves on to the deli, where folks are encouraged to limit the fried chicken and choose lower-sodium deli meats.

“People love our fried chicken, but the goal is to limit that,” Harmon said. “You can’t not have stuff you want. You just have to moderate it.”

The meat and dairy departments also get some attention, Harmon said. Customers learn about leaner cuts of meat and that pairing some cheese with a piece of fruit can help absorb the sugar from the fruit.

Learning about portion control and reading labels are big parts of the tour.

“The cereal aisle is one of my favorite aisles to go down reading labels,” Harmon said. Often, tour participants are encouraged to grab a box of their favorite cereal and compare its sugar content and other nutrition facts with their neighbor’s favorite flavor.

Tour participants also learn healthier ways of preparing food — steaming instead of frying, for example — and the pitfalls of marketing terms.

“Just because something says light or sugar-free doesn’t mean it’s good for you,” Harmon said.

The diabetes classes are a four- to six-month program and help patients learn to set goals, Harmon said. They’re encouraged to keep a food diary and watch how their diet affects their blood sugar.

“The goal is to reduce their A1C,” she said.

The Farm Fresh pharmacist is also available to do refreshers on using a blood glucose meter or taking insulin, Harmon said.

To get more information or to sign up for the May 16 store tour, call the store at 539-4800.