Research conducted by the group led by Drs. Chan and Bell will be published later this year in the Canadian Journal of Diabetes. The study, led by Master of Science student Diana Soria Contreras was a small, pilot study of 15 individuals with type 2 diabetes. The study participants were advised to follow a menu plan very similar to PPEP, complete with handy tips and recipes. The participants also met individually with Diana up to 6 times over the three months of the study, beginning with weekly sessions. The most important outcome of the study was blood sugar, which is measured using a component in the blood called A1c, and a statistically significant decrease in A1c was detected, meaning participants had better control of their sugars. Other outcomes included a small weight loss and an increase in high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, the so-called good cholesterol. Most people reported using the menu plan 5 days per week and attended 2/3 of the counseling sessions. We concluded that use of the menu plan combined with counseling was a feasible way to help people with diabetes achieve better health outcomes.
Diana C. Soria-Contreras, MSc, Rhonda C. Bell, PhD, Linda J. McCargar, PhD, RD, Catherine B. Chan, PhD. Feasibility and Efficacy of Menu Planning Combined With Individual Counselling to Improve Health Outcomes and Dietary Adherence in People With Type 2 Diabetes: A Pilot Study. Published Online: August 28, 2014.
Although not part of the published study, focus groups were held at the end of the study to find out what people liked and didn’t like about the menu plan. Learning to use the menus was challenging for some, cooking “from scratch” was challenging for others, but most people found a variety of ways to use them. For example, some people continued with their usual breakfasts and lunches but used the menus and recipes for suppers. Others used menus as a guide but substituted their own recipes. Many people reported buying healthier foods and snacks to have around the house. People found the positive feedback of better blood sugar control to be motivating to continue with the menus. Some of the features that people liked, that we incorporated into PPEP, were things like creative use of herbs and spices to enhance flavour, delicious soup recipes, and easy-to-find ingredients. However, the participants did find that at first they had too much food on hand and so had to adapt their buying patterns and adjust the menus to fit their own family size and appetites.