According to a 2017 mortality report for South Africa, diabetes was ranked as the leading cause of death in women.
“And the most important risk factor for developing Type 2 diabetes is obesity,” says Ria Catsicas, a registered dietitian and ADSA (the Association for Dietetics in South Africa) spokesperson.
Diet plays an important role in managing type 1 and 2 diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes is managed by medication (injectable insulin and or tablets), a controlled diet and exercise.
When it comes to Type 2 diabetes, however, good nutrition along with other healthy lifestyle changes are usually the first line of treatment to manage diabetes.
If medication is required, a healthy diet can complement, and often influence, the medicine to help avoid experiencing the life-threatening complications of diabetes.
Don’t make food boring
“Make sure your food tastes good, otherwise it becomes difficult to sustain,” Leanne Katzenellenbogen, a Johannesburg-based dietitian, previously told Health24. “Eating and food are such a big part of day-to-day life.”
If you find that your meals lacking in flavour, see a dietitian who specialises in diabetes. They will be able to help you with many ideas, suggestions or recipes to make food and eating a pleasurable experience, rather than one loaded with guilt.
“You shouldn’t need to turn your world upside down over your eating plan. Rather fit it into your life while considering the guidelines as well,” said Katzenellenbogen.
Nutrition is key
Nutrition is key for someone who has diabetes. Even if you do not have diabetes yet but are insulin-resistant or have a family history of diabetes, you should be paying close attention to nutrition.
Chef Vanessa Marx shared a delicious and healthy recipe with us. The oat bran and chickpea flour provide a good source of healthy soluble fibre, which lowers the glycaemic index of this dish and aids in blood sugar control.
Don't use store-bought marinades, which are often high in salt, sugar and preservatives. Make your own instead – Marx has added some punchy flavours by using paprika, lemon and thyme to season the chicken.
Zucchini, oatmeal and chickpea fritters, grilled chicken, tomato, feta and mint salsa
For the fritters:
1/2 cup ground oats or oat bran
1/2 cup chickpea flour
1tsp baking powder
1/2 cup low fat milk
2 free-range eggs
3 medium zucchini, grated
10ml chopped fresh parsley
a pinch of salt and pepper to season
10ml canola oil
Mix the ground oats and chickpea flour, with the baking powder and seasoning in a bowl. Make a well in the centre, and add the two eggs and milk. Mix the wet and dry ingredients into a batter, and then add the grated zucchini and mix well.
Heat a non-stick pan on a medium heat, and drizzle with half a teaspoon of the canola oil. Spoon a tablespoon of the mixture into the pan to make the individual fritters. Let the fritter form a crust on the underneath side and become golden brown and set a little, before flipping over with a spatula.
Once the fritters are cooked through and have colour on both sides, remove from the pan and set aside a platter or plate. Cook in two batches so you don’t over crowd the pan.
Makes 12 fritters.
For the chicken:
4 free-range chicken breasts
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
zest and juice of 1 lemon
5ml chopped fresh thyme
salt and pepper to season
10ml canola oil
Cut the chicken breast into strips and season with the paprika, lemon, thyme, salt and pepper.
Add canola oil to a frying pan and put the stove on the highest heat. When the pan is hot, add the chicken breasts and cook for around two minutes on each side, until browned, and cooked through. Remove the chicken strips from the pan heat and set aside until you are ready to serve.
For the salsa:
2 large tomatoes
30g spring onion
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
100g feta, cut into cubes
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper
Roughly dice the tomatoes and slice the spring onion. Mix together the chopped tomatoes, mint, spring onion and feta, and drizzle with lemon juice and olive oil. Season to taste and mix well.
Place the fritters onto individual plates or a platter to serve. Top the fritters with the grilled chicken. Pile the salsa over the top of the chicken and garnish with fresh coriander leaves.
Image credit: iStock