TOWNSEND --Sometimes living a healthy lifestyle is easier when a person has a little help.

A group of senior center members created Healthy Eating Lessens Pounds (HELP) to discuss their eating habits, their illnesses and ways to improve their overall health.

"Donna and I were talking about our weights after the holidays and in January we decided to start this group," said Barbara Thaxter, HELP founding member, who has lost almost 20 pounds since January.

Kitchen manager Donna Fenton and Thaxter were talking about their eating habits and health issues and decided it would be a good idea to form a weekly support group to involve more senior center members.

"There is no real instructor, it's more of a group effort," said Fenton.

Each meeting starts with a weigh-in. Members are welcome to weigh themselves and see their progress every week. They do not disclose their weights but Fenton said that the group can tell when someone has lost weight by their reaction.

Group members bring in news articles about topics they want to discuss such as high blood pressure, diabetes, reading food labels properly and ways to exercise.

On Monday, group member Anne Foresman brought in kale from her neighbor's garden and the group discussed different ways to cook and bake kale.

"I put it in the oven so we could try it," said Fenton.

She sprinkled olive oil and sea salt on the kale and put it in the oven. Fifteen minutes later she brought out kale chips for everyone to try.


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The group also talked about walking as a good form of exercise. Fenton pulled out pedometers the senior center had in the storage closet and gave them to the members.

"You can now keep track of how much you walk," she said.

Rosemarie Andrews joined the group on Monday after she decided she wanted to start eating healthier.

"I want to lose some weight and I thought coming here would help me think in the right direction," she told the group.

HELP meets every Monday at 1:15 p.m. at the Townsend senior center.

Follow Kelly Carrion on Twitter and Tout @KellyCarrion12.