Camp Diabetable Port Elizabeth report back

Ernest Groenewald, the camp co-ordinator gives us feedback on Camp Diabetable Port Elizabeth.

Camp Diabetable took place at Leaders in Life from the 18 to 20 March, with eleven children attending. It was such a big learning experience. We had numerous activities for the children, starting with an ice-breaker where each person had to introduce themselves to build a tent for themselves before nightfall. They were split into two teams.

The attendees received personalised gifts from Diabetic Accessories. Diabetic Accessories also sponsored diabetic-friendly campfire marshmallows and beautiful bags for each child.


On the Saturday, the children had so much fun as they had to navigate obstacle courses as a team. Afterwards, they had sessions with me (Ernest Groenewald) on how to take care of themselves and some diet tips as well as the differences between what are good carbs to have for low blood glucose (hypoglycaemia).

Afterwards, they had a session with Samantha, a diabetes educator from NovoNordisk. This was a brilliant session with the children as well as with the parents who attended the camp.

Focus of the camp

The focus of this camp was on the children taking care of themselves during activities and learning more about their bodies when it came to symptoms of their blood glucose. It was also to see how other children with the same comorbidity deal with their blood glucose and how they get affected.


The camp was an enormous success as not only did the children enjoy themselves but they also experienced freedom and showed them how they could manage their glucose levels even when they are active. Children with diabetes mustn’t feel alone as we forget how easy children isolate themselves.

My dream is to do more camps for the Eastern Cape region and hopefully grow, with Diabetes South Africa, a strong youth base for future generations of newly diagnosed people with diabetes.

Food isn’t your foe

Dietitian, Retha Harmse, encourages us to not see food as our foe but too work on a healthy relationship with food.

A while ago, my husband and I had breakfast at a cafe. Just as we were finishing up and settling the bill, they served the lady next to us the most delicious looking avocado toast topped with some dukkah and chilli flakes. I told my husband, “That looks amazing, I need to order that next time.” I realised I said it a bit louder than I intended because just then the lady then turned around and said, “And I don’t even have to feel guilty because it’s so healthy.”

Standing there, flabbergasted and at a loss for words, I don’t recall if I even responded. Unfortunately, this is not an exception or an isolated incident. This has pretty much become the norm of people’s attitudes towards and relationships with food.

This can be seen in your gym class where people ‘burn off the calories’ or in the grocery store where a mother doesn’t want to buy the ‘bad food’ for her children, or in corporate companies where working through breakfast and lunch is praised (both for productivity and for the will power to maintain intermittent fasting).

How would you describe your relationship with food?

Food has become the enemy, people fear eating and distrust their body’s innate wisdom of what and how much it needs. What food can do for you has taken the backseat and now food the foe is in the driver’s seat.

Well, that is most definitely the case for the majority of clients I see. That is why one of my first questions during my consultations is “How would you describe your relationship with food?”

Evelyn Tribole, author of Intuitive Eating, writes, “The Japanese have the wisdom to keep pleasure as one of their goals of healthy living. In our fury to be thin and healthy, we often overlook one of the most basic gifts of existence – the pleasure and satisfaction that can be found in the eating experience. When you eat what you really want, in an environment that is inviting, the pleasure you derive will be a powerful force in helping you feel satisfied and content. By providing this experience for yourself, you will find that it takes much less food to decide you’ve had enough.”

Improve your relationship with food

So, how do we change this? How do we give back food in its rightful place? How do we improve our relationship with food and grow in eating competence?

  • You can’t change something that you aren’t aware of. Therefore you want to become aware of where you may have negative attitudes towards food and eating: food fears, food rules, etc. This might be so deep in your subconscious that you aren’t aware of it or so prevalent in everyday life that it feels like the norm (that is why it’s called diet culture). You want to change this into positive attitudes about eating and food.
  • All food can be a part of a healthy diet. You want to grow in becoming more open and accepting towards all food groups, showing acceptance skills that support eating an ever-increasing variety of the available food. If this is not yet the case, you may want to explore what are the barriers standing in your way of achieving this. For example, the way you were raised, your daily habits, lack of mindfulness, your emotional state, etc.
  • Growing in listening to your body is extremely important. You want to cultivate internal regulation skills that allow you to intuitively consume enough food that provides you with energy, and stamina and supports a stable body weight. This means not depriving yourself of specific food items, as bingeing is the natural consequence of restriction.
  • We all know that eating doesn’t just exist in a silo, most social events have eating linked to it in some way or another. That is why you want to have the skills and resources to manage the food context and organise family meals.

Eating competence

Research has shown that adults with eating competence have body weights that tend toward the average. They are more satisfied with their weight and are less likely to cycle between dieting and non-dieting. They show better health indicators: higher HDL; lower blood pressure, total cholesterol, LDL and triglycerides.

Adults with high eating competence also do better socially and emotionally. They feel more effective, are more self-aware and are more trusting and comfortable both with themselves and with other people.


Don’t stop at this article. This is merely the starting point for improving your relationship with food. Go read up more, make it a priority – the same as a friendship or romantic relationship – choose to work on your relationship with food daily. May you choose to have your avocado toast because you really love it and not just to avoid experiencing food guilt.

Retha Harmse is a Registered Dietitian and the ADSA Public relations portfolio holder. She has a passion for informing and equipping the in the field of nutrition. She is currently in private practice in Saxonwold, Houghton and believes that everyone deserves happiness and health and to achieve this she gives practical and individual-specific advice, guidelines and diets.


Retha Harmse is a registered dietitian and the ADSA Public relations portfolio holder. She has a passion for informing and equipping the in the field of nutrition. She is currently in private practice in Saxonwold, Houghton and believes that everyone deserves happiness and health and to achieve this she gives practical and individual-specific advice, guidelines and diets.

Header image by Adobe Stock

The skinny on milk and diabetes

There are currently controversies surrounding the consumption of milk as well as which forms to consume. Annica Rust gives us the facts and clears up any confusion.

Benefits of dairy (milk)

Dairy is a versatile food item, with numerous benefits, such as shown in Figure 1. Diary contains all the macronutrients, including carbohydrates, fats and protein as well as vitamins and minerals.1

Dairy contains fat-soluble vitamins A, D and E as well the water-soluble B-complex vitamins and vitamin C. The fat content of milk will determine the number of fat-soluble vitamins, therefor the amounts may differ in low-fat and fat-free milk. Although the fat component is removed in low-fat or fat-free milk, some manufactures will fortify milk, with vitamin A & D.1,3

Dairy is also an excellent source of calcium and contains minerals, such as phosphorous, magnesium, potassium and zinc.1,3 One serving of dairy (250ml milk, 200ml yoghurt or 40g cheese) contains 300mg of calcium. This is a large portion of the daily recommended allowance for adults, which is 1000-1200mg of calcium per day. The role of each component can be viewed in Figure 1 below.1

Figure 1: The functions of macro and micronutrients from Rediscover dairy1

Figure 1: The functions of macro and micronutrients from Rediscover dairy

Food and dairy matrix

Food is more than simply nutrients. We don’t eat individual nutrients (vitamins and minerals), however, we consume different food items in a variety of meals which contain the nutrients our bodies require.1

The unique food structure can influence the digestion and absorption of nutrients. Milk fat globule membranes (MFGM) may have a significant influence on the digestion of dairy and the absorption of dairy fat. MFGM may prevent the negative effect of saturated fatty acids on low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, or simply known as the bad cholesterol, but the protective effect needs to be further investigated. The structure of milk and fermented dairy will also have a positive effect on digestion and absorption. This may partially explain why the benefits of whole foods will always exceed supplementation.1


Milk and diabetes

A positive association has been found between dairy, more particularly low-fat or fat-free dairy and the risk of diabetes. The positive effect may be contributed to the food matrix which suggests that the combination of nutrients in dairy seem to have a more positive effect for people living with diabetes when compared to individual nutrients. The calcium, magnesium, vitamin D and whey protein in dairy may all through different mechanisms of action play a role to lower blood glucose levels.1


Milk and cardiovascular disease (CVD)

People with diabetes have an increased cardiovascular risk which can’t be ignored. High cholesterol and high blood pressure as well as unhealthy lifestyle factors (obesity, inactivity and smoking) are common risk factors associated with CVD.

The intake of saturated and trans fatty acids have a significant impact on increasing LDL cholesterol levels. Dietary strategies will therefore aim to substitute saturated fat with polyunsaturated fatty acids as shown in Table 1.

Table 1: Types of fats

Saturated fat Trans-fatty acid                     Polyunsaturated fats

Omega-3                         Omega-6

Triglycerides in which most of the fatty acids are saturated


Fatty acids with hydrogen’s on opposite sides of the double bond Polyunsaturated fatty acid in which the first double bond is 3 carbons away from the methyl end of the carbon Polyunsaturated fatty acid in which the first double bond is 6 carbons away from the methyl end of the carbon
Visible fat on meat
Skin of the chicken
Chocolate (cocoa)
Cream cheese
Full cream milk products
Sour cream
Coconut, palm oil
Fried foods

Commercially baked foods (cakes, cookies)

Snack food (chips, crackers, microwave popcorn)

Margarine (hydrogenated)

Fatty fish (tuna, salmon, herring, mackerel)



Pumpkin and sunflower seeds

Oils (corn, sunflower, cottonseed)


Margarine (nonhydrogenated)



Products that are higher in fat also tend to be high in saturated fats, dietary recommendation will therefore recommend low-fat or fat-free dairy, to reduce saturated intake. The difference in milk can be seen in Table 2.

Table 2: Comparison of milk per 100g/ml

  Full Cream Low Fat Fat Free
Energy 256 190 160
Protein 3.3 3.3 3.4
Carbohydrate 5 4.8 4.8
Of which Sugars 4.1
Total Fat 3.3 1.5 0.5
Of which mono unsaturated fatty acids 1 0.4 0.0
Of which poly unsaturated fatty acids 0.1 0.0 0.0
Of which saturated fatty acids 2.2 1.1 0.5
Of which trans fatty acids 0.1 Trace Trace
Cholesterol 11 8.4 0.0
Dietary Fibre 0.2 0.0 0.0
Sodium 39 44 44
Calcium 117.5 122 123

The recommendation is to aim for less than 1.5g per 100g of saturated fats (Table 3). However, based on the food matrix dietary, approaches can be more open to move away from nutrient-based approaches and to move more toward food-based dietary patterns (looking more at your diet as a whole vs one single food items). But most importantly dairy intake shows to have a protective to neutral effect on CVD risk.1

Table 3: Recommended fat and saturated intake

NUTRIENT   Per 100g Total Fat Saturated Fat
HIGH: Avoid – Eat occasionally > 20g > 5g
MODERATE:  Eat seldom 3 – 20g 1.5 – 5g
LOW: Healthier option -Eat often < 3g* < 1.5g

*Milk, yogurt and ice-cream products, the aim is for less than 2g of saturated fats per 100g. For cheese, the target is for less than 15g of saturated fats per 100g.             

Milk and glycaemic index (GI)

Dairy contains lactose, which is the main carbohydrate in milk. Low-fat dairy has a low glycaemic index and is ideally used in combination with other foods items for meals or for a snack.Visit the GI foundation site to look at endorsed products.




There are numerous factors to take in consideration when deciding whether full cream, low-fat or fat-free milk or dairy will be most beneficial for your health. It therefore remains the best to contact a registered dietitian for individualised advice.


  1. Rediscover Dairy:
  2. The Glycemic Index Foundation of SA:
  3. Mahan, L.K. & Raymond, J.L. (eds).2017. Krause’s food and the nutrition care process. 14th ed. St Louis. MO: Elsevier Saunders.


Annica Rust is a registered dietitian practicing at the Breast Care Unit at Netcare Milpark Hospital as well as in Bryanston. She assists with medical nutritional therapy for cancer prevention, treatment, survivorship and palliation. She gives individualised nutritional care to prevent or reverse nutrient deficiencies, nutrition-related side effects and malnutrition to maximise quality of life.

Header image by FreePik

DSA News – Winter 2022

– DSA Western Cape News –

Life Child staff get tested

Ntsiki Nkomo, one of the nurses who volunteers at DSA Western Cape did a wellness talk in Xhosa for the staff at Life Child in Philippi on 25th March.

There were 15 staff members who had their blood pressure and blood glucose checked after talk. Two of the ladies had high blood pressure, unknown to them.

– DSA Port Elizabeth News –

Provincial Hospital Pharmacy’s Demin for Diabetes Day

Our Denim for Diabetes project is managed by Megan Soanes. The Pharmacy Staff at our Provincial Hospital held a Denim for Diabetes Day on Valentine’s day. They had fun and helped our branch to raise some much needed funds. It’s so encouraging to have support from various places for Denim for Diabetes and not just from the schools. Thank you Provincial Hospital Pharmacy.

Teddy Jack

A giant teddy was so kindly donated to the DSA Young Guns before lockdown and has been kept safely till activities could be resumed. They have named him Jack and he has his own DSA Young Guns t-shirt. Jack visits the various Young Guns and he stays with them till the next Young Gun outing. Young Rudi, our youngest member, was the first one to have the privilege of taking Jack home with him. Paula Thom and Darren Badenhuizen are the ‘guardians’ of Teddy Jack.

– DSA Pietermaritzburg News –

Diabetes wellness week

Pranisha Deonarain, dietitian and  chairperson of DSA PMB branch, empowered the community at local practice of Dr Kumeshnee Naicker’s diabetes wellness week. Gift packs were given to all who attended.

Eye health awareness

Mr Vikash Srikewal gave a talk to DSA PMB members regarding their eye health and diabetes. Free eye pressure testing was done.

World Health Day

 On 7th April (World Health Day), DSA PMB branch hosted a health at St Mary’s Care Centre. Various activities including meditation and Zumba sessions were held and healthy foods stalls were on display.

Mental illness and diabetes

Daniel Sher discusses the common forms of mental illness that people with diabetes may encounter, why diabetes and mental illness are linked, and pointers for getting help.

As people with diabetes, we’re well aware that we risk running into medical complications later down the line, if we don’t get the right support for our condition. We’ve all heard about retinopathy, foot damage, kidney issues and so on. Why then, are we not talking about the impact that this condition can have on the brain?

Common culprits

As people with diabetes (Type 1 or Type 2), we are more likely to develop certain forms of mental illness. Why is this the case? Well, quite simply, diabetes is a hugely challenging condition to live with. If we don’t have the right support, we can become overwhelmed by the burden of this condition.

At the same time, though, we are vulnerable to mental illness because of the way in which blood glucose fluctuations affect the parts of our brain that are responsible for mood and cognition. As a result, many people with diabetes will encounter struggles with the following:

Clinical Depression (or Major Depressive Disorder)

Depression involves a deep and unrelenting fog of sadness. Other symptoms include a loss of pleasure in previously enjoyable activities, concentration difficulties, fatigue, low sex drive, insomnia, shifts in appetite and significant changes in body weight. Research suggests that people with diabetes are two to three times more likely to develop depression.

Anxiety Disorders

We’ve all felt stressed out from time-to-time. But if your stress levels are extreme and you are feeling this way all or most of the time, you may have an anxiety disorder. People with anxiety struggle immensely to stop themselves from worrying. In some cases, they may experience panic attacks: brief episodes of intense fear and physical reactions that seem to come out of nowhere.

How common are anxiety disorders in people with diabetes? Research suggests that 14% of us have a diagnosed anxiety disorder. Anxiety has a negative impact on glucose control due to the release of stress hormones and the fact that anxiety stops us from engaging in healthy behaviours.

Eating Disorders

Given how much emphasis is placed on our dietary intake, it’s no surprise that we risk developing disordered relationships to food and eating. We are constantly exposed to reminders that we need to watch what we eat, which leads some to feel that their value as a person is linked to their diet and blood glucose levels.

We also encounter so much stigma, blame and judgment when it comes to our dietary choices, which results in huge doses of shame – an emotion which often drives eating disorders. People with diabetes, therefore, are at risk of developing conditions, such as anorexia, diabulimia (intentional insulin restriction for weight loss) and binge-eating disorder.

What about sugar addiction?

Is food addiction real? Although this has not yet been recognised as a formal psychiatric disorder (more research is needed), there is a good body of evidence to suggest that certain foods release dopamine in a way that can hijack the brain’s reward centres, mirroring the effect that drugs and alcohol have on our brain.

For people with diabetes, an unhealthy relationship with food can set you up to experience some serious difficulties, both in terms of your mental health and your diabetes management.

Signs of sugar addiction include intense cravings, binge-eating, emotional eating, feelings of withdrawal and a sense of being completely out of control with regards to your diet.

In particular, foods that are high in sugar are more likely to affect the brain in this way, because of the rush that they provide. Remember, high sugar foods do not always taste sweet: starchy complex carbs, such as white rice, bread, pap, potatoes and pasta are all culprits here.

Is diabetes burnout a mental illness?

No: diabetes burnout is a natural response to living with a hugely challenging condition. People with diabetes burnout tend to feel overwhelmed and powerless when it comes to their diabetes management and lifestyle. They may find themselves skipping doctor’s appointments or intentionally avoiding glucose monitoring.

Although diabetes burnout is not a psychological disorder, it can cause massive blood glucose fluctuations which render a person’s brain that much more vulnerable to depression and anxiety.

Can mental illness cause diabetes?

The answer is yes: having a psychiatric disorder puts you at risk for Type 2 diabetes. Why? Medications which people take for certain conditions (like bipolar or psychosis) can trigger the development of diabetes.

At the same time, people who are struggling with a mental illness may find it harder to engage in behaviours that reduce the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, such as frequent exercise, abstaining from drugs, cigarettes and alcohol, and making healthy food choices.

Finally, having a psychiatric disorder can change the way that your body and brain metabolise food for energy. This can make a diabetes diagnosis more likely.

How to get help

Do you feel like your emotional difficulties are stopping you from looking after your physical health? Do you often feel alone and overwhelmed? Are you mentally uncomfortable, despite your efforts at changing your lifestyle and mindset? Have you ever contemplated suicide?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, it’s advisable to get some support. Start by reaching out to your general practitioner or diabetes specialist, so that you can ask for a referral to a clinical psychologist and, if needed, a psychiatrist.

How can psychology sessions help?

If you have diabetes and an additional psychological disorder, there are various ways in which talk therapy can help. In my own practice, I use Diabetes Focused Psychotherapy,which is an individualised treatment plan designed around the specific diabetes and mental health needs of each client that I work with.

Diabetes Focused Psychotherapy draws on several other therapy approaches, including:

Motivational Interviewing helps people to change their behaviour by resolving their ambivalence and generating motivation.

Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy empowers you to take control of unhelpful thinking patterns which lead to unpleasant emotions (like hopelessness or frustration) and unhelpful behaviours (like binge-eating and avoiding testing).

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction involves using mindfulness meditation techniques to help improve psychological resilience.

Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy helps you to understand how past experiences and unconscious dynamics impact your life in the present. This involves helping a person to understand and take ownership of diabetes in relation to their identity, while also addressing patterns of unhelpful behaviour, such as self-sabotage and denial.  

Play Therapy and Family Therapy are useful approaches for helping children or adolescents to cope with diabetes.

Dialectical Behaviour Therapy is an approach which helps people to regulate their emotions and overcome eating disorders and/or other forms of self-harm.

Summing up

As people with diabetes, we have a higher risk for developing certain forms of mental illness. Managing a psychological disorder in addition to diabetes is never easy. Furthermore, suffering through such a condition can take a serious toll on your diabetes management and physical health. For these reasons, we need to keep an eye out for the signs of psychological distress; and we need to reach out for support when necessary. Know this: all of the disorders discussed in this article can be treated. With the right support, you can find a way to thrive with diabetes.


Daniel Sher is a registered clinical psychologist who has lived with Type 1 diabetes for over 28 years. He practices from Life Vincent Pallotti Hospital in Cape Town where he works with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes to help them thrive. Visit


  • Ali, S., Stone, M. A., Peters, J. L., Davies, M. J., & Khunti, K. (2006). The prevalence of co‐morbid depression in adults with Type 2 diabetes: a systematic review and meta‐analysis. Diabetic medicine, 23(11), 1165-1173.
  • Gearhardt, A. N., Yokum, S., Orr, P. T., Stice, E., Corbin, W. R & Brownell, K. D. (2011). Neural correlates of food addiction. Archives of general psychiatry, 68(8), 808-816.
  • Grigsby, A. B., Anderson, R. J., Freedland, K. E., Clouse, R. E., & Lustman, P. J. (2002). Prevalence of anxiety in adults with diabetes: a systematic review. Journal of psychosomatic research, 53(6), 1053-1060.
  • McIntyre, R. S., Kenna, H. A., Nguyen, H. T., Law, C. W., Sultan, F., Woldeyohannes, H. O., … & Rasgon, N. L. (2010). Brain volume abnormalities and neurocognitive deficits in diabetes mellitus: points of pathophysiological commonality with mood disorders? Advances in therapy, 27(2), 63-80.
  • Polonsky, W. H., Fisher, L., Earles, J., Dudl, R. J., Lees, J., Mullan, J., & Jackson, R. A. (2005). Assessing psychosocial distress in diabetes: development of the diabetes distress scale. Diabetes care, 28(3), 626-631.
Header image by FreePik

Gummy Vites – Sugar-free treats for kids

Gummy Vites is here to help you reduce your child’s exposure to artificial and added sugars through not only foods and drinks, but vitamins as well.

Gummy Vites Everyday Sugar Free Multivitamin is the first ever sugar-free kids multivitamin that contains all the necessary vitamins and minerals without the added sugar to ensure normal growth and development, maintain good health, strengthen immunity and provide the right amount of energy throughout the day. Each gummy contains vitamins C, A, E, D3, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9, B12 and minerals, iodine and zinc.1

Alternatives to artificially sweetened treats

Trying to get your kids to eat their fruit and veggies can be a full-time job. But, it doesn’t have to be. You just need to get creative. There are so many alternatives to artificially sweetened treats like carrot cake naturally sweetened with pineapple and carrots, or pumpkin and butternut blondies.

We, at Gummy Vites, understand the struggle so here are our alternatives to artificially or added sugar sweet treats for kids. You can use fruit, some naturally sweeter veggies (carrots, pumpkin, butternut), fruit juice or dried fruits to sweeten treats for your children. Make sure to use 100% fruit juice and check that the juice doesn’t have any added sugars.

Babies and toddlers are generally happy with a subtler sweet flavour, so fruit or veggies would be suitable for creating sweet treats for them.2

Healthy ice cream

Try our healthy ice cream made by using frozen bananas and cream or coconut cream as the base.

You will need:

  • Frozen bananas (2 large)
  • Cream (250ml) or coconut cream (1 can)
  • High-powered blender
  • Plastic container
  • Freezer
  • Ice-cream scoop

You can always make plain banana flavoured ice cream, but to keep things interesting we suggest trying one of our flavour combinations as the banana flavour can easily be disguised. Here are our different flavours to try:

  • Cocoa (2 Tbsp) and vanilla essence (1 tsp)
  • Blueberries (½ cup) and cinnamon (1 tsp)
  • Peanut butter (2 Tbsp)
  • Mango (1/2 cup) and desiccated coconut (1 Tbsp)

1. Cut, peel and freeze your bananas.
2. Blend the frozen bananas.
3. Add in your chosen flavour (cocoa, berries, peanut butter or mango).
4. If it’s too thick, add a dash of cream or coconut cream. This will add some extra sweetness as well.
5. Store in the freezer in a plastic container until you are ready to serve.
6. Serve it with a sprinkle of your chosen flavour (cocoa, berries, peanut butter, or mango and desiccated coconut) on top.


  1. Gummy Vites Select Sugar Free Multivitamin Professional Information.
  2. A Whiteford, Fruit Sweetened Treats for Kids, 29 September 2021

Adcock Ingram Healthcare (Pty) Ltd. Reg. no. 2007/019928/07. Private Bag X69, Bryanston, 2021, 1 New Road, Erand Gardens, Midrand.
Customer Care: 0860ADCOCK/232625

Winter meal planning

Dietitian, Rhodene Leydekkers, shares basic steps to help you on your winter meal planning journey.

The winter cold is here, and with winter typically comes warmer, hearty and comforting food. But just because the season is changing doesn’t mean that you should stop nourishing your body with good nutrition.

Planning your meals for the week can save you some money, time and stress. It can also make healthy eating a bit easier and prevent food waste. But if the thought of meal planning overwhelms you, here are basic steps to help you on your meal planning journey this winter

First decide what works for you

There are different styles to meal planning, so you need to decide for yourself what will work best for you. Although planning and meal prepping a perfect week sounds amazing, sometimes you need to ask yourself whether that is realistic for you.

Some people prefer to only plan their meals to know what to get from the shops, and other people like to meal prep and cook some or all of the meals in advance to lessen the load during the week. Some people only plan their dinners for the week, while others prefer to plan for breakfast and lunch as well. Your food preferences are also important to take into consideration when planning for the week.

Focus on balance

Before we plan our meals, it’s important to know what to aim for. Balancing our meals is important to ensure that we are getting all our nutrients in that our body needs to function optimally.

An ideal plate would be: ½ your plate full of vegetables, ¼ of your plate lean protein (skinless chicken, fish, lean beef, beans, lentils or eggs), and ¼ of your plate high-fibre carbs (brown rice, whole-wheat couscous, quinoa, barley, sweet potato or whole wheat bread or pasta), and then to include some fats that will usually come from using a little bit of oil in preparing the meal, or by adding fats to a meal like avocado, nuts or seeds.

If you want to enjoy a warm soup, stew or curry (because who doesn’t enjoy a warm meal on a cold day), you can still apply this model to that meal. Soups, stews and curries are a great meal to add lots of veggies in, a lean protein like mentioned above, and enjoying that meal with some brown rice, barley or a slice of whole wheat bread.

Evaluate your week

Now that you know what to aim for, the next step would be to evaluate your week and plan your meals according to your schedule. There might be upcoming social events, work functions or other obligations that can influence your meal planning. If these events include food (which honestly is the best, am I right?), then you don’t have to plan for that day. Or it could mean that you will not have a lot of time to prepare a meal, so then a quick heat-and-go left-over meal would be best to plan for those days.

Make a menu for the week

So, now that you know what to plan for, you can start colouring the picture in. Have a list of go-to balanced meal options that you know will work for you and your family. Choose recipes with simple ingredients that you can use in different dishes, and that is quick and easy to make. This makes it easier to pick the meals for the week without thinking too much about it.

Food should also be an adventure, so continue to add recipes to this list, and even experiment here and there with new flavours if you have the time.

Ideas for meals

  • Chicken or canned black bean stir-fry with whole wheat noodles.
  • Lentil curry with lots of vegetables and brown rice.
  • Baked fish, boiled potato and roasted vegetables.
  • Chicken soup (again with lots of vegetables) with a slice of whole wheat bread.
  • Whole wheat spaghetti bolognaises made with lean mince and bulk it up with tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, carrots, zucchini and spinach.

Make a shopping list and stock your kitchen

This is my favourite part, the shopping. From your meal plan for the week, you can now make a shopping list for what you might need for the week to prepare the meals.

Stock your pantry and fridge with some staples like salt, pepper, herbs, spices, olive oil, etc., and then go and buy the necessities for the week.

If you find that you just don’t have the time to go to the shops, or it is just too cold to leave the house, then there are other options. Most of our favourite grocery stores have online options available to help you stock your kitchen for the week without putting a foot in the shops.

Prepping your meals

Now remember, meal planning and prepping looks different for everybody, so this step depends on what will work best for you. One way of meal prepping is to choose a day, like Sunday, to prepare some of the meals in advance. The pre-prepared meals can then either be refrigerated and eaten over the next few days, or frozen to eat over the next few weeks or even months.

Meal prepping can also include preparing ready to cook ingredients for a specific meal, like chopping vegetables or cook starches, like rice, to save some time on cooking. By doing this, it can really save you a lot of time in the kitchen, especially now that your days are shorter with the sun setting much earlier.

Meal planning might seem a bit overwhelming at first, but the moment you start doing something, you might notice how easy it makes your life. So, go make yourself a warm cup of tea, grab a pen and get planning.


Rhodene Oberholzer Leydekkers is a registered dietitian and is passionate about people and wellness. She believes that life is too short to eat a boring meal, as food can be both nutritious and delicious. She encourages her clients to focus on enjoying every meal and is eager to help them build a healthy relationship with food and themselves. She also has a special interest in diabetes management, gut-brain connection and women’s health.

Header image by FreePik

Reflexology for menopause

Fiona Hardie explains how reflexology can help with easing the symptoms of menopause.

Menopause is a momentous time in a woman’s life marked by major transitions. From cessation of her periods, physical changes in her body, emotional highs and lows, and her general identity shifting, menopause is the ideal time when a woman needs more than ever to care for herself psychologically, emotionally, spiritually and physically.

The threat of ill-health is also ever greater as blood glucose levels fluctuate due to hormone imbalances that are more prevalent, making it harder to keep diabetes well-controlled.

Generally occurring between the ages of 45 and 55, menopause is when fertility ceases, and oestrogen and progesterone are no longer produced by the ovaries. This really need not be a time of discomfort, hot flushes or depression, particularly if a therapy such as therapeutic reflexology is made use of regularly.

What is therapeutic reflexology?

Therapeutic reflexology is an ancient treatment which involves stimulation of the tops and soles of the feet (hands, face and ears can also be treated) using the thumbs to apply pressure.

Reflexology is not a foot massage but a targeted treatment using a specific technique which aims to bring the body’s systems into a state of homeostasis or balance. The reflexes that are worked on correspond to different parts of the body. For example, in working on the ball of the foot which is the lung reflex, the actual lungs will be stimulated together with their partner meridian the lung meridian.

Benefits related to menopause

This makes for a powerful treatment to aid in alleviating many of the symptoms of menopause, such as bloating, constipation, insomnia, brain fog and not to mention the ever-dreaded hot flushes.

Several clients enduring hot flushes and who after receiving reflexology, noticed a considerable drop in the occurrence and severity of these sweaty episodes. It’s suggested that at onset of any symptoms, in fact even before, a regimen of reflexology sessions be started and continued regularly throughout these years.

What will reflexology will alleviate?

Reflexology will in alleviating other symptoms such as:

Hot flushes

The hypothalamus is a gland in the brain that regulates body temperature by sending signals to the organs, muscles, and endocrine and nervous systems. During menopause the body becomes more sensitive to fluctuations in core body temperature, so enlargement of blood vessels and sweating is increased. By working the big toe which is where the reflex for the hypothalamus is located, this function can be regulated.

Hormone regulation

The reflexes of the endocrine glands, such as the thyroid, and the reproductive system, such as the ovaries and uterus, are stimulated to ensure energy flow and harmony in these areas. And of course, the release of “love” hormones, such as oxytocin, enhance the feeling of well-being and self-care. Feeling good about oneself is of great importance during this massive transitory period.


Recipients of a session report better quality sleep. Reflexology is extremely relaxing and this in itself can help the body to regulate itself for it’s when the body is relaxed, it’s able to heal and function efficiently.


Due to the adrenal glands producing more of the stress hormones, adrenalin and cortisol, anxiety levels can increase exponentially especially as an array of other hormones are also out of balance. Reflexology brings about a wonderful feeling of ease and hence a reduction in anxiety. Coupled with anxiety is very often a dose of constipation. By working on the sole of the foot where the digestive reflexes are situated, regular bowel movements are encouraged.

Peripheral neuropathy

The loss of sensation in the extremities particularly the feet which can be problematic in people with diabetes. Reflexology is very effective in ensuring blood flow to the feet, stimulating the nerves and keeping the heels well-moisturised as a treatment is usually wrapped up with a nurturing oil or cream massage. The reflexologist can also pick up if there are any cuts or sores that perhaps have not been felt by the patient.


Research into reflexology sessions on menopausal women found that two sessions a week for six weeks significantly reduced fatigue, total cholesterol levels and cortisol levels.1

Therapeutic reflexology is a well-respected therapy and modality which can hold its own as an extremely effective ongoing treatment not only for menopause or to ease symptoms thereof, but to maintain a healthy, well-functioning body. When we feel loved and nurture our bodies, our minds respond with health and calm. A therapeutic reflexology session can give that and so much more.


  1. (Ref: Evidence based reflexology research for Health Professionals and Researchers by Barbara and Kevin Kunz pg. 89).


Fiona Hardie has recently relocated to the Western Cape and is teaching Pilates online and looking to further her offerings with Rebounding. She is also studying yoga and new modalities that will facilitate the healing that is so necessary today. She is focusing on growing her online presence and when she finds the right space she will open a Pilates and therapy studio.

Header image by Adobe Stock

Exercise in cooler months

We hear why BASA advocates that a healthy body is made through consistency and why exercise is imperative in cooler months.

It’s so easy to get active and exercise when the sun is shining and the sky is blue. But what happens when the winter months start to roll in, temperatures start to drop, and the sky becomes dark and grey? Even the most dedicated of fitness enthusiasts can struggle to get out of bed in winter, let alone get moving.

Winter can be very disruptive to our regular exercise routines. Typically, as temperatures start to decrease, so does physical activity. Light levels are also a contributing factor. With the sun rising later and setting earlier, our days become shorter, and so does the perceived window period for physical activity. Many people find the dark to be demotivating and a barrier to physical activity participation.

Why to keep moving in winter

Despite these difficulties experienced during winter, movement and physical activity remain a central and essential component in the management and prevention of diabetes.

There is an abundance of research which demonstrates that regular physical activity improves blood glucose, decreases cardiovascular risk factors and reduces reliance of chronic medication in individuals with diabetes.1,2

Additional benefits include improved cardiovascular fitness, improved blood pressure, improved cholesterol and triglyceride levels, decreased abdominal fat, improved body mass index (BMI) and enhanced well-being.

During winter, the benefits of physical activity for people with diabetes don’t change. However, there are some additional reasons that you might benefit from getting active in the cooler months.

  • Increased Core Body Temperature

With physical activity, we typically observe an increase in both muscle and core temperature. This is because not all of the energy produced in our muscles is used for muscular contraction, and the remainder of the energy is converted to heat energy which increases the muscle temperature and eventually core body temperature.3 The greater the exercise intensity, the greater the heat production. Essentially, exercise of sufficient intensity will help you become your own human heater during winter.

  • Reduced depression and anxiety

Although the exact mechanisms are complex and multifactorial, there is ubiquitous agreement in scientific communities that exercise is beneficial for the treatment and management of symptoms of depression and anxiety.4

Physical activity leads to the release of endorphins or ‘feel good chemicals’, such as serotonin and dopamine. These endorphins help to better regulate mood and promote feelings of well-being, whilst reducing feelings of depression and anxiety. Exercise can therefore help you to beat the winter blues and protect against Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

  • Preventing winter weight gain

During the cooler winter months, the average person tends to eat more and do less. With this human hibernation, comes the dreaded winter weight gain. Exercise helps to boost your metabolism and increase the number of calories you burn each day, which allows you to better maintain your weight and help you avoid packing on the pounds.

With the above benefits of exercise, the goal during winter should be to reduce the number of barriers to physical activity and commit to small, sustainable changes that make staying active easier until the return of the warmer months.

Five tips to help keep you active in the cold

  1. Create a support structure

Create a support structure that will encourage you and help you remain focused on your goals. It’s much easier to stick to a habit if you have someone to keep you accountable to your goals. Get active with a friend or family member or sign up for regular exercise sessions with a healthcare professional, such as a biokineticist.

  1. Get active in your lunch breaks

Does going to the gym or for a walk before work in the pitch-dark sounds like a nightmare to you? Try to squeeze in some activity into your lunch breaks whilst it’s still light outside. Try a brisk walk around the block if the weather is tolerable, or, if you’re lucky to have a gym close by or at the office, try to fit in a quick 30-minute workout.

Here is a great balance and mobility exercise to try, which we have called the #teatimetactic challenge. Here is the explainer video on YouTube:

Challenge yourself and nominate others. Practice it, film it, upload it to social media and tag others you would like to nominate to take up the challenge and include hashtags #TeaTimeTactic and #biokineticssa!

  1. Try hydrotherapy

If exercise in the cold is something you’re just not willing to subject yourself to, hydrotherapy in a heated pool is a great option. Hydrotherapy has many benefits, including improved circulation, reduced pressure on joints, reduced joint and muscle pain, muscle relaxation, improved muscle strength, improved joint range of motion and improved balance. Not only will you be warm, but you will reap all these other benefits too.

  1. Invest in new gym wear

Nothing motivates people like some new active wear. Putting on gym gear is not unlike putting on a uniform, or an actor putting on a costume. By putting these specific clothes on, you remind yourself of the specific task or job you have to perform, and you become more psychologically ready for the task at hand. Invest in some warmer gym clothing, not only to help keep you warmer during your workouts, but to help motivate you to get active.

  1. Try new indoor activities

If you regularly exercise outdoors but can’t bring yourself to go for your usual morning walk in winter, it may be time to try some new indoor activities. This doesn’t necessarily require you to take out a gym membership. With the global COVID-19 pandemic, there are now many options available online to help get you moving within the very comforts of your own (warm) home.

A healthy body is made through consistency

There is a saying that goes “summer bodies are made in the winter”. But we like to think that a healthy body is made through consistency, which means putting in the work every day, regardless of the weather outside.

Biokineticists are registered healthcare practitioners that treat injury and disease through individualised, evidence-based exercise prescription. They are specifically educated to prescribe and supervise exercise to individuals for the management and prevention of non-communicable diseases, such as diabetes. To find out more about biokinetics, or to find a biokineticist near you, visit


  1. Gill, Jason MR, and Dalia Malkova. “Physical activity, fitness and cardiovascular disease risk in adults: interactions with insulin resistance and obesity.” Clinical science 110.4 (2006): 409-425.
  2. Way, Kimberley L., et al. “The effect of regular exercise on insulin sensitivity in type 2 diabetes mellitus: a systematic review and meta-analysis.” Diabetes & metabolism journal 40.4 (2016): 253-271.
  3. Takeda, R., & Okazaki, K. (2018). Body Temperature Regulation During Exercise and Hyperthermia in Diabetics. In (Ed.), Diabetes and Its Complications. IntechOpen.
  4. Drew, E. M., Hanson, B. L., & Huo, K. (2021). Seasonal affective disorder and engagement in physical activities among adults in Alaska. International journal of circumpolar health80(1), 1906058.

To find out more about biokinetics and to find a biokineticist near you, visit

Written by Tayla Ross (Registered Biokineticist, MPhil Biokinetics) on behalf of The Biokinetics Association of South Africa.

Header image by Adobe Stock