Atlanta – Marcia Cole says it’s funny to think she was able to kick the decades-old fast-food habit at the former McDonald’s outside Grady Memorial Hospital, where she once worked.
“Yeah, I used to eat here,” Cole laughs. “Every time I had an appointment, I would eat here, after my appointment!
However, in April of last year, at more than 200 pounds, the 67-year-old arrived at Grady’s emergency department with dangerously high blood sugar.
That was when Cole ended up here at the former McDonald’s, now the educational kitchen at Jesse Hill Market, where, Cole says, she made headway.
When I walked in here, I said, ‘You’d never know it was McDonald’s! But, yes, it changed everything. I no longer eat fast food.”
Cole has worked with Teaching Kitchen Director Dana Plesset, who teaches Grady patients with food insecurity or diet-related health conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholesterol, and how to use food as a form of medication, to better control their health. .
Here is a simple approach.
“If we eat a plant-based diet, we can lower our blood pressure, we can lower our cholesterol, we can control diabetes, and we’re already seeing that in our patients here.” Plessit says.
The Teaching Kitchen at Jesse Hill Market is a collaboration between Grady, the Atlanta Community Food Bank and Open Hand Atlanta.
Grady’s patients, referred by providers, can take cooking and nutrition lessons, and go home with bags of healthy ingredients to prepare dishes at home.
“There is also a ‘Food Pharmacy’, where patients can bring in a prescription written by their provider for fresh produce and food – all for free.
“Sometimes patients scratch their heads thinking, ‘Oh, maybe I’ll get a can of beans,'” says Plesset. “They’re not expecting, you know, 24 or 44 pounds of food.”
Marcia Cole says she’s becoming a smarter shopper.
“When I go to the grocery store, I’m there for hours now, because I’m reading labels forever,” she laughs. “If anything is over a certain percentage, I don’t buy it, I check carbs, look for saturated fats, extra sugars, and find alternatives.”
By phasing out processed and fast foods, Cole says she lost 62 pounds, and her blood sugar is back under control.
She is proud that she did it without dieting.
“There is no such thing as a diet,” Cole says. “You just have to learn how to eat properly, and the thing is, you have to do that to be successful. That’s very important to me. You have to do it.”