Updated 01 October 2015

Diabetes: a nutritional solution

The majority of diabetes patients are at a total loss when it comes to what they're allowed to eat.


It is always heartening when one of my colleagues publishes a book and I was thrilled to receive a copy of The Complete Nutritional Solution to Diabetes from Ria Catsicas, a South African dietician. As Ria mentioned to me, nutrition and the diabetic patient always remains a challenge because research is constantly challenging our current knowledge. In addition, the majority of patients diagnosed with diabetes are at a total loss when it comes to what foods they are allowed to eat and what quantities they should eat and when.

A complex problem

Diabetes when uncontrolled, can lead to serious health problems, so the primary aim of all treatment, both medical and dietary, is to control this condition. One of the most important defences is knowledge and diabetes patients owe it to themselves to know as much as possible about their illness and how to manage their lives. The Complete Nutritional Solution to Diabetes by Ria Catsicas does just that - it will give you the information you need to manage and control your diabetes, instead of diabetes controlling you!

The sensible approach

Ria Catsicas, who is a registered clinical dietician, has devoted many years to researching the nutritional aspects of diabetes and is well qualified to advise patients about this disease. Thanks to her extensive experience in private practice, she addresses topics such as the definition of diabetes, managing diabetes, nutrition basics, the ever important subject of weight loss and weight maintenance, and how essential physical activity is in controlling blood sugar levels.

This book also discusses diabetes in children and adolescents, and gives tips on social eating, the use of alcohol, sweeteners and supplements.

Chapter 9 which is devoted to "Cooking for Diabetes", features a collection of tasty well-balanced recipes for breakfast, salads, light meals, main meals, and desserts which will be a boon for diabetic patients who are tired of eating tasteless dishes. The colour photographs are mouth-watering and no one who has made her "Chicken, sweet potato and prune casserole" or indulged in a slice of "Strawberry-topped cheese cake" will ever again complain that diabetic diets are boring and monotonous.

Chapter 10 is a fount of useful information, such as the Carbohydrate Exchange Tables for patients using insulin, and Appendix 3, which features "Useful Contacts". The latter is a list of the various organisations in South Africa involved with diabetes care and support.

Practical examples

Ria has drawn on her experience with patients and included examples of how different people handle their diabetes and the various day-to-day problems they encounter. For example, in  Chapter Six which deals with Physical Activity, she recounts the progress and set-backs that a typical overweight patient may encounter when embarking on the road to fitness and good health. This makes her book very accessible to readers who should be able to identify with the highs and lows of Sarah, a type 1 diabetic, who set herself the goal to participate in an ultra-distance cycle race in the short space of 3 months. Her trials and tribulations make fascinating reading and should encourage all diabetic patients to become more active. If Sarah can do it, then so can you!

For parents of children diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, there is the story of Laura who has to face all the problems of being a teenagers and an insulin-dependent diabetic. It is evident that Ria Catsicas, has a great understanding of the complex issues that diabetic children, adolescents and their families have to come to terms with. Her "Guidelines for Managing Children with Diabetes" will help all the members of the family to find their feet and become part of the solution instead of contributing to the problem.  In addition, the section on ‘Developing Healthy Eating Habits for the Family’ should benefit everyone’s health. Frantic Moms will find the "Five-day healthy lunch-box plan" most helpful, as well as the "Snack substitutes". The Table devoted to the "Sugar content of popular drinks" is an eyeopener for anyone trying to balance their blood sugar levels.

So if you, a member of your family, or even a friend, has been diagnosed with diabetes, I can recommend Ria Catsicas’ The Complete Nutritional Solution to Diabetes. It could make all the difference between coping with diabetes successfully and being defeated by this condition. Individuals who suffer from insulin resistance (and the number keep growing), will also find this book useful as a guide to sensible eating and sensible living.

Order The Complete Nutritional Solution to Diabetes online at Kalahari.com. You can also contact Ria Catsicas at ria@nutritionalsolutions.co.za or visit her website to order this handy book.


(Catsicas R (2009) The Complete Nutritional Solution to Diabetes. Random House Struik (Pty) Ltd. Struik Lifestyle, Cape Town)

Dr Ingrid van Heerden is a registered dietician and holds a doctoral degree in Nutrition and Biochemistry. She believes that "we are what we eat" and offers free nutrition and weight loss advice via her DietDoc service on Health24.com. Read more of her articles.


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