Coping With Diabetes

What you eat can have an affect on your mental health

14 November is World Diabetes Day. An estimated 3.5 million South Africans suffer from diabetes, with a further 1.5 million undiagnosed cases. A lifestyle change, exercise, healthy eating plan and weight loss are the start to dealing with diabetes. That and your medication, like tablets and insulin injections. Always opt for foods that are low in GI as they are better absorbed into your blood stream and prevent a sudden glucose spike. So avoid foods with a very high GI.


Founder and Chairman of Weigh-Less Mary Holroyd says simple changes like the kind of food you eat or how often you exercise can help you cope with the disease.

Blood sugar levels can be effectively managed by following these guidelines:


Consult your health care professional about how frequently you should be testing your blood glucose levels.


If you have been prescribed medication for diabetes from a doctor, it’s vital to stick to the recommended doses.

Stay away from salt

Salt may contribute to higher blood pressure levels.

Quit smoking

Smoking further raises blood glucose levels. But, be very careful about how much food you eat after you quit smoking so you can avoid rapid spikes in blood glucose.


This has been credited as the third most important factor in managing diabetes, after receiving medical attention and starting to lose weight. Try 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise at least six days a week.

Regular meals

Eat five to six small meals a day, and split up the carbohydrate servings equally between these meals to ensure they are supplied to your blood at a constant and steady stream.

Fat matters

It’s important to monitor your fat intake because diabetes puts you at an increased risk of heart diseases. Salt-water fish like salmon and tuna are a great source of healthy fats. Drink skim milk instead of low-fat, and eat lentils, chickpeas and beans instead of red meat, chicken and cheese as often as possible.


Please eat dry beans, soya, lentils and peas. Eating these foods regularly as part of your protein servings helps balance blood sugar and fat levels.