HAMPTON ROADS, Va. — To accommodate more people dealing with health issues during the pandemic, a free heart-healthy cooking program for Virginians has moved from in-person to online.
The American Heart Association classes for Hampton Roads residents help underserved individuals who suffer from chronic ailments such as heart disease, diabetes and obesity learn how to cook more nutritious meals, according to Briana Ricks, Community Impact Director with the Association. With the program now available virtually, she said they hope to accommodate a wider range of patients who also are more susceptible to the coronavirus.
“We know there are a lot of individuals in Hampton Roads that suffer from some sort of hypertension,” Ricks said. “And also during the realm of COVID, we do know that the most common underlying condition in COVID cases is some sort of heart disease. I believe the statistic is 1 in 3 cases have some sort of heart disease.”
A chef leads four weekly evening classes for participants who prepare meals that can feed a family of four, and the groceries are delivered to their door. For more information, call Simple Cooking with Heart at 804-205-7781.
LaWanda Wood is a doctor of nursing who teaches the cooking class about nutrition and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. She said the class is more important than ever during the pandemic as folks have been slipping into unhealthy habits such as eating junk food and drinking more.
“The program really does try to put individuals back on track, allow them to see that those bad behaviors will have a negative consequence,” Wood said. “And we are trying to reverse those things by promoting preparing your meals at home, being able to understand the nutritional value, the benefits of the items you’re cooking with.”
Cardiovascular disease is the most significant cause of disease in Virginia and across the United States. The state’s health department says an estimated 6% of Virginians live with some variety of the disease, and about 10% also have Type 2 diabetes.