Updated 09 February 2017

Enjoy Easter without the sugar rush

If you are living with diabetes, you needn't feel left out when it comes to celebrating this Easter.


Easter is just around the corner and there are tempting treats everywhere. In fact, it’s a paradise for chocoholics, with everything from bunnies to chocolate coins and giant eggs gracing the shelves. Unfortunately, not everyone can indulge in the sweet delights that are the hallmark of the season.

Up to 6.5 million South Africans ( IDF Diabetes Atlas) are estimated to be living with diabetes, and this means they have to manage their sugar and calorie intake carefully.

The good news is that, if you are living with diabetes, you needn’t feel left out when it comes to celebrating, as there are lots of ways to enjoy the chocolate holiday without compromising your health.

“The most important thing, of course, is to monitor your status regularly, and to use your medication as prescribed,” says Shelley Harris, Public Relations Manager of health care company Novo Nordisk (SA). “This is the baseline for a healthy, active life if you’re living with diabetes.”

Smart alternatives

But that doesn’t mean you have to sit out the celebrations at this special time of year. It just means being conscious of choosing healthy - and tasty - alternatives when everyone else is breaking out the chocolate.

American Diabetes Association guidelines indicate that diabetics under treatment can include a little sugar in their diets as part of an integrated eating plan. However, as sugar is quick to metabolise and causes a rapid rise in blood sugar levels, most healthcare practitioners encourage people living with diabetes to choose alternatives. 

“Many health stores and large pharmacies carry excellent low-GI foods for diabetics,” says Harris. “Sweets and sweet foods for people living with diabetes are manufactured either with artificial sweeteners or with natural alternatives to sugar, which are metabolised more slowly and are therefore a healthier choice than refined sugar. There’s a wide selection to suit every taste and whim, and products for people living with diabetes are always clearly labelled.”

Yummy recipes

Small portions of special berries, such as cherries and raspberries, are also a favourite for many, as are artificially-sweetened ice cream and yoghurt or home-prepared cakes and desserts made with wholesome ingredients.

There are many excellent cookbooks for people living with diabetes available in South Africa, and these include recipes for everything from milk tart to carrot muffins and even - yum! - chocolate cake. So there’s no reason to feel deprived, even in the chocolate stakes, as long as your chocolate indulgence is suitably manufactured or prepared.

“It’s also important for all of us to think of holidays and celebrations as being about more than just treat foods,” says Harris. “There are many ways of celebrating Easter.  A specially-prepared Sunday lunch with friends and family is just as festive as indulging in cheerfully-wrapped chocolates.  After all, that’s what the spirit of the holiday is about, isn’t it?”

Novo Nordisk press release


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Dr. May currently works as a fulltime endocrinologist and has been in private practice since 2004. He has a variety of interests, predominantly obesity and diabetes, but also sees patients with osteoporosis, thyroid disorders, men's health disorders, pituitary and adrenal disorders, polycystic ovaries, and disorders of growth. He is a leading member of several obesity and diabetes societies and runs a trial centre for new drugs.

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