Eating healthier and losing weight is always high on the list of New Year’s resolutions for the majority of the population. Texas AgriLIFE agents in Orange County will help local residents keep those resolutions. Beginning Jan. 5; a series of classes are planned to help diabetics learn how to manage their disease through diet and to teach pre-diabetics how to eat healthier and lose weight.

Youngsters will learn about proper nutrition through 4-H programs that will be introduced through daycare and after school programs.

Gardening classes will be introduced in February beginning with “Grow Healthy Families, Plant a Vegetable Garden.”

“We’ll provide them with the tools they need to live healthy lives,” said Paula Tacker, the Family and Consumer Sciences agent.

“We’ve never had our [diabetes] classes at the hospital before,” said Tacker. “We’ve partnered with Mr. [Garren] Garrett. We’re working with him at the hospital because they don’t have an accredited diabetes program.” Tacker said doctors will be more receptive to the program. “It will help them with the ‘frequent fliers’ that come in.” She said many of the patients that wind up in the emergency room just need education. “They just didn’t quite know what to do to manage themselves to keep themselves out of trouble,” said Tacker.

“We’ve had doctors wanting to have a pre-diabetes class. There is nothing out there because insurance doesn’t pay for it,” said Tacker. “So we’ve decided to use our curriculum and put our walking program in with it. We are going to use our ‘Better Living for Texans’ lessons and we’re going to focus on helping people lose five to seven percent of their body weight, eat healthier, get moving and then we’ll be together for eight weeks.” The class will meet once a week at Baptist Orange Hospital.

Tacker hopes the group will stay together and meet maybe once a month following completion of the class.

“They always ask after we do a class, ‘Can we do this longer, if we keep coming it’s more on our minds,’” said Tacker. The class is for those diagnosed with pre-diabetes or people that just want to lose a little bit of weight or learn to eat healthier.

There will be four eight-week classes during the year with each set of classes held at a different time to make the classes available to everyone’s schedule.

Both the ‘Do Well, Be Well with Diabetes’ and the ‘Living Well’ classes will be held on Thursdays in the 5th Floor Classroom at Baptist Orange Hospital. The first sessions begin Jan.5. Cost for the diabetes classes is $20 per person or $35 per couple. The ‘Living Well’ classes are free.

To pre-register for classes, call the Texas AgriLIFE Extension office at 409-882-7010.

It’s never too early to learn how to live a healthier lifestyle, so agents are preparing to work with children on good nutrition.

“We’re going to work on doing some 4-H clubs in after-school programs with a more food and nutrition related cause,” said Tacker. “We have a contest called “Food Challenge” that’s kinda like “Iron Chef” where you give the kids certain ingredients and they have to make something healthy. They have to tell the judges how they made it, why it’s healthy; you know, write out the recipe,” said Tacker.

“If we do it in the evenings like the other clubs that mainly raise animals, it’s just too much to compete with ball and dancing and everything. I think if we work with the schools and daycares on it, it will have a better [outcome].”

She plans on have local competitions at the schools. Later, there would be a county wide contest. Those winners would go to district competition.

Tacker also plans on working with younger children at daycare centers.

“We got some grant money for cooking with kids this year. We got a little bit of grant money from Walmart so I was thinking we could use it for lessons like that with the kids in daycare centers,” said Tacker.

“The kids go back and teach it to their parents; they really do. Or, they make it on their own. We are working on ingredients and recipes they can do on their own. We’re still doing diabetes prevention that way. We’re doing obesity prevention. We’re working with 4-H; so it all ties us in altogether.

In February, Roy Stanford will begin teaching vegetable and herb gardening classes. Costs for the classes are $30 and will be held on Tuesdays, possibly beginning on Feb. 21. More information will follow later, or you can contact the AgriLIFE office which is located at 11867 Highway 12 North in Mauriceville. Their Web site is:

About Penny LeLeux

Penny has worked at The Record Newspapers since 2006. A member of the editorial staff, she has "done everything but print it." Most frequently she writes entertainment reviews and human interest stories, with a little paranormal thrown in from time to time.She has been a lifelong member of the Orangefield community.