When the West Cook YMCA hired registered dietician Jennifer Allington at the end of 2015, her newly created position tied in neatly with the Y’s holistic approach towards improving its members’ health and wellness. Recognizing that health encompasses far more than just physical fitness, the Y brought on Allington to serve a variety of roles.

Notes Allington, “My original role was to facilitate the new Diabetes Prevention Program that kicked off in December of 2015.”

The year-long program will see its third class begin in September, and Allington points out that the West Cook Y is the first YMCA in the Chicago area to offer this program. Members meet weekly for the first four months and then taper off to monthly meetings for the final six months of the program.

Allington says participants must meet certain criteria before joining. “People complete a risk-assessment questionnaire. They must be at least 18 years old, have a BMI of 25 of higher and a blood test indicating they are at risk for diabetes.”

Once enrolled, participants learn how to approach diabetes prevention in a holistic manner. Allington covers stress reduction, getting started with physical activity, nutrition, and dealing with negative thoughts.

On the heels of the success of the Diabetes Prevention Program, this fall, the West Cook Y and Allington will begin a new program, Take Charge of your Diabetes, aimed at those already diagnosed with diabetes. “There’s a natural overlay to taking the next step and offering our services to those who already have that diagnosis,” remarks Allington.

This September, through Allington, the West Cook Y also launched new dietician services for members. A variety of packages will be offered to interested members. Allington says that the visits will cover a wide-range of nutrition topics from weight loss and high blood pressure to managing or preventing diabetes to cooking tips. “We’re going to see what the need is and then tailor our offerings to what the community needs,” she says.

For more information, contact Jennifer Allington at jallington@westcookymca.org or 708.434.0249.

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