By Ken Hirter

Continuing to educate myself l sat down and spoke to another dietitian, the delightful and informative Jennifer Desrosiers. I asked Jennifer why she became a dietitian.

“I have always been interested in nutrition and how it affects us and also realize that in society nowadays there are many factors working against us to eat healthy. I really enjoy assisting individuals in their journey for healthier lifestyles.  It is about improving and forming new habits, not about being perfect all the time. Setting realistic goals is something that l work with my clients to do.

Over 3 million people living in Canada or 8.9% of the population have been diagnosed with diabetes and after adjusting for the aging population, the prevalence is increasing at an average rate of 3.3% per year.  At Compass Community Health we focus on delivering education to individuals with pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes although in my practice l do see clients with various issues outside of diabetes.

Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes have different causes. In Type 1 the pancreas does not make insulin because the body’s immune system attacks the islet cells in the pancreas that make insulin. It is usually but not always diagnosed in childhood. In Type 2 diabetes the pancreas makes less insulin than it used to and your body becomes resistant to insulin. This means your body has insulin, but stops being able to use it properly.

While both types of diabetes have inherited or genetic aspects, the insulin resistance that causes type 2 diabetes is often related to having too much body fat especially in the abdominal area. That being said, there are also lean people who develop type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is not an autoimmune disorder as is type 1. It occurs most often in people over the age of 45. Recently there has been an increase in younger individuals developing type 2 diabetes.

Pre-diabetes is a condition when an individual blood sugar is higher than normal but not high enough to be diagnosed with diabetes. With pre-diabetes there is an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The good new is that lifestyle changes can make a big difference in whether someone will develop diabetes.

Top 5 warning signs to watch for if you suspect that you may have pre-diabetes and/or diabetes.

  1. Feeling more thirsty than normal
  2. Urinating frequently
  3. Losing weight without trying
  4. Feeling tired and fatigued
  5. Blurry vision and vision problems

Complications from diabetes include strokes, blindness, heart attacks, kidney failure requiring dialysis and foot amputations and are associated with premature death. Diabetes can reduce lifespan by 5 to 15 years. Individuals with depression have a 40% – 60% increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

If you have any of these warning signs please book a appointment with your doctor and/or health care provider. A simple blood work test can determine whether your pre-diabetes or have diabetes. “

At Compass Community Health Jennifer mainly does one-on-one dietary counseling and diabetes education, but they also have group classes. They also hold a monthly Diabetes Kitchen Cooking group to help people become more confident in the kitchen and learn new healthy recipes.  The Diabetes Kitchen meets once a month between 4.30 to 6.30. Group rotation every few months to accommodate everyone. Call Jennifer at (905)-523-6611 or visit for more information on this wonderful program.

There is also teaching here done on various topics related to healthy eating and much more at Compass. In addition, Jennifer is also looking for opportunities to do presentations to the Northend Community, and beyond. She also has one-on-one appointments and group education at the Hamilton Urban Core Community Health Center 181 Main Street West # 121 Hamilton, Ontario. They can be at (905) 522-3233 or you can visit their website at

In closing l asked Jennifer what Top 3 Vitamins and what diet would she recommend.

  • Vitamin D
  • B-12
  • Magnesium

Please note that Vitamin recommendations will vary from person to person though.

When it comes to diets the most recommended diet is the Mediterranean Diet. This diet has been known to lower blood sugar, lower cholesterol and can reduce depression and lower chances of developing some cancers, including bowel cancer. It reduces risk of cognitive decline including dementia, risk of stroke, diabetes and other vascular diseases.

Eat less often than other foods:

  • Red meat
  • Saturated fat
  • Sweets

And eat fish and seafood at least 2x/week

Diet isn’t necessarily just to drop pounds off. It is also vitally important that you lower the numbers where it really counts. Your overall health depends on you and here at Compass the dietitians will get you on the right path to a healthier you for 2024.

I would like to thank Cory Ma and Jennifer Desrosiers for taking the time to discuss diet, pre- diabetes and diabetes education, food & nutrition plus much more.