19 October 2017

Nutritious cookery lessons served up by Health Champions Denise Kennedy, registered dietitian and director, Health Champions training

Denise tells us about how cookery lessons can help to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.

I love food and I have an appetite for spreading my enthusiasm. That’s why I set up ‘Health Champions’ with my business partner, Karen Dennison.

We have spent the last seven years teaching people how to cook delicious healthy meals. So, I was thrilled to hear NICE say people at the highest risk of developing type 2 diabetes should be given intensive lifestyle support, which includes referrals to cookery classes.

At Health Champions we have created a six week course, showing people how easy it is to prepare simple, healthy meals. Many people arrive thinking that eating healthily means eating uninspiring food, but we soon change their minds.

We cook food that people won’t be scared of or put off by – something they feel is achievable. And our recipes are based on Government guidelines for a healthy diet – including a lot of fruit and vegetables, lower fat, saturated fat and sugar and encouraging high fibre carbohydrates where appropriate. 

Our work has proved that cooking lessons to support healthy lifestyle changes does work. People with diabetes have told us that their blood sugar levels have improved because they are eating the right food for them, and we have seen the long-term positive changes some people make; including cooking from scratch, eating more vegetables and controlling portions. 

Over the years, we have taught more than 1,000 people to cook. And trained more than 100 people to lead community cookery clubs.

People who attend the sessions have told us that they use the recipes again and again; a particular favourite for many is our butternut squash and sweet potato soup.

The aim is to inspire, enthuse and educate the people who participate in our courses. And it really makes a difference because we don’t just tell people what to do, we get them to do it for themselves.

NICE does not recommend this specific course in our guidance. It is an example of our guideline being put into practice.

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