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  • Sharon Hultzer

When Diabetes comes to stay at YOUR house

Updated: Jan 16, 2019

South Africa is all too familiar with this disease. The World Health Organisation (WHO) predicts that 1.2 million South Africans will have diabetes by the year 2030. Of even greater concern though is the large number of people who have diabetes but are not aware of it and remain undiagnosed.

When a family member is diagnosed with diabetes, the whole household is impacted. Relaxed weekend braais, social gatherings, even grocery shopping trips now all seem too complicated. Friends think twice before inviting your family for a meal, because Diabetes is now part of the deal.

To demystify this disease and learn how to continue living full, productive lives, here are some important pointers to remember:

People with Diabetes are ‘normal’ and can still lead perfectly healthy lives!

In order to do this though, lifestyle and dietary adjustments need to be made.

Ignored Diabetes does NOT go away.

Team work is the key to success!

Every family member should seek to understand the condition and the dietary changes necessary. This makes managing the Diabetes a group effort and removes many of the barriers to change.

Increasing exercise and improving eating habits are two critical elements in successfully managing Diabetes. These factors should be practiced and implemented by the whole family! Try walks or bike rides together as a family, playing ball games in the garden or enjoying a day of active swimming at the beach. As far as meals and snacks go – they whole family should be encouraged to eat the same healthy options.

Start with a healthy trolley!

Developing a healthy lifestyle at home is made so much easier by being smart at the grocery store. Make sure that your trolley regularly contains:

  • lots of vegetables (fresh as well as frozen for those emergency days)

  • a variety of seasonal fruits

  • high fibre cereals and crackers, low GI breads or rolls

  • low fat milk and low fat yoghurt

  • lean cuts of meat and skinless chicken

  • tinned fish (tuna, pilchards, sardines and salmon) as well as frozen fish fillets

  • low fat spreads and dressings (lite tub margarine, low fat mayonnaise, low fat salad dressings)

  • safe snacks such as popcorn, digestive biscuits, raw nuts, lean biltong and dried fruit

Avoid the chocolates, sweets, biscuits and crisps aisles!

Serve healthy balanced meals to the whole family.

It is not necessary for the one family member with diabetes to eat separately or require different meals.

The main aim should be for lunch and supper to contain a large proportion of vegetables. Keep it interesting by offering various salads (coleslaw, grated carrot and pineapple, mixed bean salad and beetroot) and cooked vegetables (fill gem squash with corn or peas; cook a mixture of pumpkin butternut and carrots adding the juice and rind of an orange after cooking; stir fry a variety of colourful vegetables together or use frozen stir fry mix for an even quicker option).

Avoid sugary drinks and sweetened cordials. Try making your own iced tea by brewing a couple Rooibos tea bags in 1 litre of boiling water. Once cooled, add 1 cup of any flavour pure fruit juice and chill. Always have fresh water available as a thirst-quencher and make it enticing by adding mint leaves, a dash of lemon juice, and slices of orange or other fruit into the mix. Add a bottle of this home-flavoured water to school lunchboxes too!

As we pause to look more closely at the impact of Diabetes on our world, let’s start with our family and make the adjustments necessary to slow down its dramatic increase in our country.

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