A local dietician’s guide to healthy eating for diabetics


What’s your typical meal?

Grilled lean meat, a baked potato and fresh salad. This meal is quick and easy to prepare, so it’s perfect for my weekday suppers. It’s also nutritionally balanced. I prepare chicken without the skin and I trim the fat from red meat.

What’s your favourite drink?

Chamomile tea. It’s rich in antioxidants, so it’s a great detox after a long day at work. I have a cup every evening.

And your favourite dish?

Mediterranean beef stir-fry served with brown rice. I love this dish because it includes my daily serving of vegetables, protein and carbohydrates – all in one delicious meal. I prefer brown rice to white as it’s higher in fibre.

What’s your best healthy snack?

Low-fat yoghurt. Not only is yoghurt delicious, it’s also rich in calcium and vitamin D that help maintain strong bones. I normally choose yoghurts that contain live probiotics because they promote a healthy digestive system.

What do you have as a treat?

I enjoy baking, so occasionally I will treat myself to homemade bran muffins. The best way to ensure I don’t overindulge, though, is by inviting friends over to share the treats. What’s the most important thing you do to maintain a healthy weight? In addition to making healthy food choices, I stick to my weekly exercise routine. I attend Pilates and Pound classes at the gym three days a week. On weekends I jog for 30 minutes in the morning.

How do you stick to healthy eating?

Before I go grocery shopping I make a list of the food I need to buy. This way I can avoid buying unhealthy foods that don’t fit into my eating plan.

What do you eat for a mood lift?

Fruit salad. I go for vitamin C-rich fruit, such as citrus fruit and berries. Vitamin C helps to lower blood pressure as well as stress hormones.

READ MORE: It's World Diabetes Day today and we're debunking some of the myths around the disease


This condition includes a group of metabolic diseases in which a person has high blood glucose (blood sugar) because not enough insulin is produced or because the body’s cells don’t respond to insulin properly, or both. In all cases it’s important to follow a healthy diet that balances your blood sugar.

Jacinta suggests the following:

  • Eat five portions of fruit and vegetables per day but avoid eating canned fruit.
  • Eat wholegrain starches such as wholewheat bread and pastas and brown rice, and avoid starches like white bread, rice and sugar.
  • Cut out (or down on) ready-made baked goods. Eat nuts and seeds regularly and go for vegetable oils such as sunflower, canola and olive oil.
  • Avoid coconut oil as it contains saturated fat, which raises cholesterol levels – which can lead to heart disease, a condition diabetic  are at higher risk of.
  • For your protein, choose fish such as salmon and sardines at least once a week.
  • Select lean meats like skinless chicken and fat-trimmed red meat. Steer clear of processed meats and fatty red meats such as bacon, sausages and polony.
  • Drink plenty of water – at least six glasses a day – and reduce your daily alcohol intake to one drink for women and two drinks for men.
  • Choose low-fat, unsweetened dairy products like plain, low-fat yoghurt. Also, you must consume sugar in moderation and try to avoid sweets, desserts and sugary soft drinks.

Unless you’ve been medically advised to follow a specific diet, Jacinta says you should aim for a healthy, balanced diet that’s low in fat, sugar and salt and contains a high level of fibre and fresh fruit and vegetables. “It’s important to eat regular meals to control your blood glucose and energy levels throughout the day,” she adds. “You can have healthy snacks in between if you need a boost.

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