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The Blue & Gray Press | August 17, 2017

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College Diabetes Network gathers to discuss nutrition

Flickr/sriram bala

Sriram bala/Flickr

By HANNAH BRATTON

The University of Mary Washington chapter of the College Diabetes Network met at Seacobeck Hall on Thursday, Nov. 6 to compare the nutritional values of food items at both Seacobeck and Blackstone Coffee. In their research, the club discovered that Seacobeck did not provide sufficient nutritional information for students living with diabetes.

The group, which was founded last year by alumnus advisor Dan Browne, currently hosts six members.

Diabetes is a condition in which the body does not properly create or regulate necessary sugars. It is difficult for people with Type 1 diabetes to navigate food options when not provided prior nutritional information, since certain foods can cause blood sugar to rise and fall.

Rebeca Arm, a senior art history and museum studies double major, said she believes that Seacobeck needs clearer nutritional information, especially for its diabetic students.

“Nutrition information at Seacobeck is distributed by weight, and if they don’t let you serve it yourself, you can’t be one hundred percent sure that you are getting the right amount of food to keep your blood sugar in check,” Arm said.

CDN ran several tests on the food they decided to eat, looking on a website to see if they could find nutritional information, with varying results. One of their findings was that the cereal Apple Jacks did not have carb levels and only three cereals did.

Browne started the club shortly before graduating last spring. The College Diabetes Network is a national nonprofit that exists to support college students living with diabetes. It is chapter-oriented and Browne, who was diagnosed with diabetes at the age of ten, formed the UMW chapter after sensing a need for the community at the school.

The goal of the club is to provide solidarity and raise local awareness of diabetes, as well as support area diabetes fundraisers. Everyone who is an active member of the club has either Type 1 diabetes or knows someone who does.

Freshman Katie Tucker said she enjoyed the sense of solidarity she has received from the club.

“It’s cool to meet other diabetics,” Tucker said.

The club members shared various issues they have dealt with as diabetics both on and off campus.

“A testing center I went to in Washington, D.C. wouldn’t allow my insulin pump and would only allow me to bring in glucose tablets,” said Tucker.

Likewise, Ann Higgenbotham, a junior history major, recounted the story of how her insulin pump died the night of the glow stick party during her first week away from home.

“College is the first time you’re on your own away from your parents, and having diabetes, it’s the first time you’re responsible for keeping yourself from ending up ill,” Browne said.

The club is currently scheduled to wear onesies on Nov. 14, in the hopes of advocating for National Diabetes Awareness Day, one of the many events in November, National Diabetes Awareness Month. In addition, the group wears blue every Friday to advocate for diabetes awareness.

The organization recently threw a Halloween party for the Kids for A Cure group at Mary Washington Hospital, sponsored by nurse and diabetes education advocate Jenny Natividad. Kids for A Cure provides support for kids living with diabetes.

“It can be hard explaining why it’s such a headache to deal with keeping yourself healthy,” said sophomore Sarah Heisey, president of CDN. “Our club provides solidarity and it helps to know other people are in the same boat.”

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