Tips for pre- and post-hospitalisation

Margie Young shares easy tips to help manage your pre- and post-hospitalisation.

Tips to manage your elective procedure hospitalisation

  • Confirm your surgery date
  • Confirm your authorisation with your medical aid.
  • Confirm your hospital pre-admission. Be sure to disclose that you have diabetes so that you will be one of the first on the list.
  • Confirm what medication you should continue or discontinue with.
  • Be prepared. Get your running around done ahead of time. Pack your bags, get your chronic meds and ensure you have extra test strips.
  • Focus on you, closer to surgery. Guard yourself, keep to immediate family and stay away from big gatherings. Hydrate, eat nutritiously and be compliant with your medication. Get good quality sleep.
  • If you tend to have hypos, have your own rescue remedy (juice, Coke, Super C’s).

Tips to manage an emergency hospitalisation

  • Be prepared for any emergency. This includes: an ICE tag or card with your eemergency contact details and a list of your medication and doses (even those meds that nobody knows about, like garlic tablets, or PDE5 inhibitors for erectile dysfunction).

Recovery time tips


  • Follow instructions.
  • Day 1 – 4 are considered the most critical days.
  • Remember to hydrate. Avoid sugary drinks.
  • Get moving – if possible. Major surgery usually recommends staying in bed for 24 – 48hrs post-surgery.
  • Good hygiene. Brushing teeth is a must.
  • Nap and sleep as needed.


  • Follow instructions.
  • Take your medication as prescribed.
  • Do not do too much too soon.
  • Nutrition is vital. Get enough of the right stuff to eat and drink.
  • Get moving. Move slowly if you must. Do the rehab exercises prescribed.
  • Good hygiene. To avoid unnecessary delay in wound healing.
  • Rest

Glucose management

Glucose levels will be variable, often due to many of the factors that affect your blood glucose, so be sure to test more frequently and adjust your insulin accordingly as medications alter the effectiveness of the insulin.

Margie Young is an insulin pump specialist at Medtronic. She has been involved in the diabetes arena for the better part of 20 years.


Margie Young is an insulin pump specialist at Medtronic. She has been involved in the diabetes arena for the better part of 20 years.

Getting into shape

It’s not only the journey of getting into shape, but also the journey of staying in shape that is important. This transformation will improve your physical well-being and your mental and emotional health.

To follow a healthier lifestyle, you have to firstly decide why it’s important to you, so the goal is more than wanting a number on the scale. By defining this, it will help you keep focus in achieving your health and fitness goals.

Guidelines to assist you along the way

  1. Set realistic goals

Before you start any health journey, you need to know where you’re heading. You’ll feel like you’re running in circles if you have no clear goal. Decide what you want to achieve and set a realistic time frame by looking at past experiences and talking to experts.

Whether you want to lose weight, build muscle, improve fitness, increase endurance or just improve overall health, clear goals will provide you with motivation and a sense of direction.

Instead of having the goal to lose weight, define it better. For example, I want to lose visceral fat (fat around and in between organs), reduce body fat percentage by 5% and be able to walk 5km without being out of breath. I want to do this in a period of three months.

Also add in goals for general health, not just weight loss. This may include increasing fitness levels, lowering blood glucose levels or improving energy levels and sleep.

  1. Start with smaller changes first

Most people follow an all-or-nothing approach which may put you at either end of the spectrum. Both can be damaging. This leads to confusion, exhaustion, depression, and burn-out.

To avoid feeling overwhelmed, start with smaller, more manageable changes. Slowly introduce healthier habits into your daily routine while cutting out bad habits. For example, reducing coffee intake to two cups per day and adding in two glasses of water rather than trying to cut out all coffee and drink three litres of water a day. This way you build in doable changes, and it will be easier to maintain in the long run. Then slowly build on that foundation as you go.

  1. Incorporate an exercise routine

Make sure that you start off with or incorporate exercise that you enjoy in small amounts, to keep you motivated. Then build on that by working in variety and a balance between cardiovascular exercises (running, cycling, swimming) that are good for heart health and fat loss as well as strength training (weights, body weight or high intensity interval training) that helps to prevent muscle and bone loss as you get older.

The more muscle you have, the more energy your body uses to maintain it versus fat that is dry mass and not adding any benefits. Stretching is also important to prevent injuries and keep the muscles flexible.

Start of small with 10 – 15 min of exercise three times a week. Then increase to daily exercises, including stretching of 10 – 15 min. Next you can increase the duration of the sessions to 20 – 30 min three times a week while still doing 10 – 15 min stretching in between.

Depending on your health, you can ask healthcare professionals or personal trainers to assist and work with you on the level you are at.

  1. Follow a well-balanced diet

Most people see this as the most important step in getting into shape, but if everything else is not in place and you don’t have clear goals, unfortunately, you won’t see progress or won’t able to stay on track.

Together with exercise, sleep, water intake and managing stress, a nutritious diet is important in improving health and getting into shape.

With every bite you take, you make a choice between: health or harm. Start by reducing or cutting out processed foods and focusing on incorporating more whole foods (food in its most natural form).

Ensure you add in variety of food groups including fruits, vegetables, lean protein, healthy fats, and grains. Unhealthy foods like sugar, fats and processed foods can negatively affect your health and prevent or slow down progress. Also focus on eating smaller more regular meals with snacks like fruits, nuts, seeds or Fabulite Fat Free Yoghurt. The key to adopting a healthy balanced diet is moderation.

Allow yourself the occasional treat but ensure to eat healthy foods most of the time. Fabulite Fat Free Yoghurt Range is the perfect treat as it has the same sweet taste without the guilt.

  1. Drink enough water

This might sound like a simple thing to do, but the impact of drinking enough water during the day can be massive. Your body consists of about 70% water, so you need to maintain these levels as the body is consistently using water in all body processes.

When you don’t drink enough water, your body has to compensate in ways to try and maintain these processes. This causes unnecessary stress on the body. Constipation is prevalent if you aren’t consuming enough water. Any drinks that contain sugar or caffeine can’t be counted as water as caffeine dehydrates the body. Also ensure that you drink enough throughout the day (especially during and after training) and not all at once.

  1. Ensure sufficient rest and sleep

Sleep helps your body recover from stress and exercise; it’s the healing and recovery time for your body. Thus, if you don’t sleep enough, your body can’t function properly, leaving you exhausted and causing more stress on it. You need about 7 – 9 hours of good quality sleep at night.

You can always build up to this by making a few changes in the house to allow your body to switch off earlier. For example, this can be by turning off electronics earlier in the evening, dimming the lights, closing the curtains, having a cup of chamomile tea before bed and avoiding eating before bed.

Rest is another piece of the puzzle where you’re relaxing your body and mind to better handle the rest of the day or week. Rest includes spending time in nature, reading, listening to music, sitting in the sun with a cup of tea, spending time with loved ones, or going for a leisurely walk. Both rest and sleep are important in losing weight as well as improving health.

  1. Consistency and patience

Consistency is key in anything you want to change. You can’t do everything perfectly one week and then the next all the good intentions go out the window. Rather make the changes slowly and maintain them so that when times get tough, it’s easier to sustain.

You also need to be patient with yourself and the process. Your health didn’t decrease overnight, so you can’t expect your body to heal and get into shape overnight. The more you feed it with the right habits, the better and faster it will also heal and the more progress you’ll see.

Stay focused on your goals by keeping them where you can see them and celebrate small achievements, not only the end goal. P.S – just not by eating more chocolate.

  1. Tracking you progress

Find ways to track your progress so you can see how far you have come throughout the journey. You can do this through measurements (weight, centimetres, blood glucose readings) or you can take before and after photos to measure goals visually as well.

Tracking helps you to adjust where you might not be seeing the results. Keep a journal of diet, exercise, sleep, water intake as that will allow you and your healthcare professional to find ways where you might be lacking or overdoing something.

Every bit of progress adds up, so don’t get discouraged if you only lose 1kg in a month.

  1. Find a support system

Doing anything alone is not easy or fun. Add in the fun by doing it together with someone. Who said healthy competition can’t be good? You can also identify someone close to you to stay accountable to, to keep you motivated when things get hard. They can also celebrate the small achievements with you. These positive enhancements will help you stay on track and continue moving forward.

It’s a rewarding journey

Getting into shape can sometimes be a tough but rewarding journey. Surrounding yourself with like-minded people to walk the journey with you, keeps you motivated and helps you stay focused on your goals.

Everyone’s journey is unique so don’t compare yourself to others, and monitor your progress for where you are at. Keep consistent and one day you’ll look back and see how far you have come and thank yourself for the decision you made. Don’t wait for tomorrow. Go out and get into shape today.

Estée van Lingen is a registered dietitian practicing in Randburg and Fourways, Gauteng. She has been in private practice since 2014 and is registered with the HPCSA as well as ADSA and served on the ADSA Gauteng South Committee for 2020 – 2022.


Estée van Lingen is a registered dietitian practicing in Randburg and Fourways, Gauteng. She has been in private practice since 2014 and is registered with the HPCSA as well as ADSA and served on the ADSA Gauteng South Committee for 2020 – 2022.

This article is sponsored by Parmalat in the interest of education, awareness and support. The content and opinions expressed are entirely the health professional’s own work and not influenced by Parmalat in any way.

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Afton Thysse – Managing diabetes during an unplanned pregnancy

Afton Thysse shares how she managed her Type 1 diabetes during an unplanned pregnancy and how her feelings impact her blood glucose levels.

Afton Thysse (35) and her son, Jaydon (4) recently moved to Boksburg, Gauteng from Port Elizabeth.

Type 1 diabetes diagnosis

In July 2013, I was in an armed robbery. Thereafter I started losing weight rapidly and consulted my GP. I was sent for a glucose test after which it was determined my pancreas had shut down due to shock. I would need to be on two types of insulin immediately and for the rest of my life.

My current treatment is a long-acting insulin every morning. Then I need to inject fast-acting insulin before every meal, for which I need to calculate my glucose reading as well as the sugar content of the meal I’m about to eat to get to the correct amount of units to inject.

When I was first diagnosed, the insulin started as a standard 10 units per meal and 12 units long-acting every morning and every evening. My doses steadily increased over the years until I was taught how to calculate and measure so I could adjust my own doses based on my glucose level and sugar intake at the time of injecting.


When I fell pregnant in 2019, it wasn’t a planned pregnancy. When we found out, I had to go on a special diet to keep my blood glucose regulated throughout my pregnancy; it included less sugar and more healthy food. All the other rules were the same as it would be for any woman. Though, I was give guidance on where and how to inject and cautioned on eating according to my cravings. Strangely enough, I ate less during my pregnancy and didn’t have any specific cravings.

Regular check-ups were a must during the pregnancy; more information was shared on where we were in the pregnancy, what my blood glucose levels were, and how the next month or two were likely to go.

I was cautioned that miscarriage was common in pregnant women with Type 1 diabetes, and was a possibility as the pregnancy wasn’t planned and my body wasn’t prepared for this in regards to my blood glucose. This was hard to hear and caused negative emotions but it also gave me the drive to persist and do everything I needed to keep my baby healthy.

Birth of Jaydon

Jaydon, my son, was born one month premature and spent two weeks in neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) for monitoring of his blood glucose levels to ensure complete health before leaving the hospital.

He was a tiny little thing and is still small for his age, but he is happy and healthy, and that includes the naughtiness of a pre-schooler and all the fun that comes with that for me.

He understands that I have diabetes and knows how to help when my blood glucose drops: he gets me something sweet to help boost my glucose and knows where I keep my tester and how to help me test if I’m feeling weak.

Jaydon has recently come up with his own little attitude when I’m  moaning  to him about his messy room and toys all over the house. These days I get, “Maybe you should test your sugar, Mom!”

Food, fitness and feelings


It’s important to understand that any and all food will have an effect on your blood glucose readings. The best way to handle this for me was testing every time I ate food. For example, I would test my glucose, have a banana and test two hours afterwards to see how it affected my glucose and whether I calculated correctly on the units so I could better adjust next time. Always remembering to only go up or down on the units by 1 or 2 units at a time. I did this with many different foods over time which has helped me with understanding what each food does in relation to my glucose levels.

I’ve learned each person with diabetes is different as our bodies aren’t all 100% the same. Therefore, we can’t apply the same basic rules for foods and medication to everyone. Each person with diabetes should get to know their own body, their own reactions to foods and their medications for a better understanding of how to look after themselves.

Diets aren’t for me. This is a sure way for me to become despondent; it becomes a why me feeling more than anything else. I feel deprived and can’t sustain this long term in my daily life. With a 4-year-old healthy son, there will be sweets and certain foods I’m not allowed to have. Realistically it becomes a decision between a healthy body but a depressed mother, or finding a balance between. I choose the balance between.

I cook healthy food for the family and inject correctly for what I know the meal will do to my glucose levels, and still have something nice but in moderation and carefully adjust my insulin to accommodate for this.


Because I work from home, this means I don’t usually get out and about a lot. I get up from my desk every hour and walk for a bit, keeping my circulation going.

At the end of my work day, I do ball sports with Jaydon which keeps me active and on weekends we usually go to the park and I get in most of my walking. I don’t attend a gym or have a regular exercise routine. I found that I don’t stick to this and then get negative about not doing what I should. So, I built movement into my daily life and what works for me so I don’t set myself up for disappointment and despondency.


I never realised how emotions played a role in impacting my glucose levels until one day Jaydon’s dad asked me to test my glucose while calming me down as I was having a mini meltdown. Naturally I had an emotional response to this in itself. However, I did a quick check and found my glucose was high. So, with me my emotional responses do go hand in hand with my blood glucose levels. Though, this doesn’t mean when I’m upset, I don’t have a valid reason. It’s just that my level of emotional response is slightly elevated.

When my blood glucose levels are running higher and I’m happy, I will be slightly more impulsive or agreeable. But when my blood glucose levels are going lower, I’ll be more inclined to do more relaxed activities (watch a movie, reading, nothing too busy) and the emotion will be more dampened. I shrug a lot more, the whatever-you-want-response is more prominent.

The flip side is when I’m in a negative space. High blood glucose means I might be more argumentative and complain about the house being left in a mess with toys all over the place. When my levels are running lower, I’ll have a more depressive response to the same things. It becomes more of a why do I have to struggle? Why does no one consider me and pick up their things around the house?

Understanding your body is important but understanding your emotional responses are just as important. This helps to acknowledge that you’re having a sugar response, find out what you are really feeling and adjust your mindset to balance out your reactions. This has helped me to not sink into unnecessary depression and also to give my family the best parts of myself. 

Laurelle Williams is the Editor at Word for Word Media. She graduated from AFDA with a Bachelor of Arts Honours degree in Live Performance. She has a love for storytelling and sharing emotions through the power of words. Her aim is to educate, encourage and most of all show there is always hope. Feel free to email Laurelle on


Laurelle Williams is the Editor at Word for Word Media. She graduated from AFDA with a Bachelor of Arts Honours degree in Live Performance. She has a love for storytelling and sharing emotions through the power of words. Her aim is to educate, encourage and most of all show there is always hope. Feel free to email Laurelle on

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Food, elements and seasons

Veronica Tift enlightens us on the food to eat based on seasons and elements.

Ever heard the saying, Feed a cold, starve a fever? How about chicken soup is a cure for a cold, or an apple a day keeps the doctor away? These old wives’ tales all have merit to them: food is medicine. Food is the fuel that you put into your body. The type of fuel and the quality and quantity you put in makes a difference to the energy that your incredible body runs on. Using good appropriate fuel is vital for longevity and for good performance.

Food is fuel and medicine

There is a lot of information on nutrition and there is widespread controversy on what is the right way to eat. By sticking to the flow of nature and eating what works for you as an individual, based on your element, could go a long way to simplifying and navigating the sometimes complex world of nutrition.

Health costs are rising and during lockdown there was a shift to many of Grandma’s remedies and alternative medicine like Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Now the science is catching up proving why these remedies have stood the test of time.

The idea of food as medicine goes way back, to quote Genesis 1:29, “And God said, ‘Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food.’”

Fast-forward to Hippocrates who believed in treating his patients in a holistic manner, with proper diet, fresh air and looking at lifestyle habits. 

Natures healing ability

Today there are numerous books on the power of food and the healing ability. Ancient healers and modern practitioners understand that everyone is different and that we each have our own connection with the earth and its elements.

As humans, we are wired to prefer nature. Everything about being outdoors is calming to the nervous system. Trees, plants, running water, rocks and wood are way more calming to the human nervous system compared to high-rise buildings.

Simply put organic beats plastic, both in the body and out. This also helps to understand the power of treatments like reflexology. Before the treatment has even begun, the setting is healing, taking the body out of being overwhelmed or over-stimulated to a natural rest state.

The body has its own wisdom and if you take a minute to listen, you will see that your body speaks to you. Think about being thirsty, your body has sent a signal to the brain which then makes your throat dry and you feel thirsty. This is where good choices come in, you can choose a sugary drink or glass of water.

Elements and seasons

The TCM system of medicine has stood the test of time because of its beauty, simplicity and because it looks at balance. The age-old concept of seasonal changes affecting human growth and well-being was rooted and developed in ancient China.

The five-element theory is key in the Chinese system, with each element Fire, Earth, Metal (or Air), Water and Wood all being associated to a season.

Everyone has the qualities of these elements living in them. It’s more of a metaphorical way of explaining and understanding the unique person each of us are. Usually, a person is dominant in one or two elements. However, we require a balance in all elements to thrive.

There are many online sites where you can find out what element you might be dominant in. This can give you insight into not only what food would better suit your element but will allow you to understand yourself and work on new strategies on how to best take care of your health. A good nutritionist or ayurvedic practitioner can help you find the right balance for you as an individual. Consult with your healthcare provider.

Once you have determined which element you are most dominant in you can allow it to guide you on what to eat in each season. Remember as with everything in life, balance is needed. Eating foods in season and minimising the number of processed foods is a great start in balancing the body.


Spring is a time to dance and shine like the sun and is connected to the Wood element. It’s the opportunity to look at what is old and not working, it’s time to bring new awareness in, making changes for good. More whole foods, fresh fruit and vegetables, salads, seeds, nuts and beans will give you the vital life force needed to make changes.Keeping things light, avoid fried foods, alcohol and chemical foods.

This is a great time to start reflexology if you haven’t tried it, helping your body with relaxation and clearing. Fasting could be another great addition to this time of year as a way to spring clean your system. Please only consider fasting under the supervision of a dietitian.


Summer is natures season of growth and is connected to the Fire element. Being more active during this time, you need a diet that helps to keep it cool and light. Nature to the rescue with fruits and vegetables on hand with fruits being the most cooling. Eat fruits during the morning and heat of the day, vegetables are perfect for night. Seeds, nuts and grain and good quality water, cucumber and citrus fruits are especially good; all add value this time of year. Be careful not to over-burden your liver with high caffeine and alcohol.

Ever seen someone eat burnt toast or love strong coffee? This could point to an imbalance; a craving for bitter flavours is associated with this element. A good way of satisfying this need for bitter flavours could be to munch on some green leafy vegetables.

Late summer, the Earth element, is the beginning of harvest time. Vegetables are growing big and plump; fruits are falling ripe to the ground. Natures gifts at this time year are apples, grapes, tomatoes, beans and zucchini. Grains are close to harvest and pumpkins and squashes are close behind.

Whole grains and good quality protein, seeds and sprouts, nuts, beans and dairy products, eggs and red meats, can all be part of the late summer diet that can continue right through to winter, helping keep heat and strength balanced.

Craving sweet things and not just sugar, but high carbs like potato chips can be seen when this element is out of balance. Learning to understand labels and reading ingredients becomes a key to unlocking what your body is craving.


Autumn is associated with the Metal element. This is the season for harvest; people who don’t like autumn show an imbalance in this element by having a hard time harvesting their personal energy. This is the season of gathering all the seeds that you have sown throughout the spring and summer, before the rest of winter.

Citrus fruits, grapes, apples, pears, walnuts, sunflower seeds, brown rice and wheat are already around this time of year. If you crave hot spices or strong cheeses, or maybe you can’t stand curry or peppery foods, either of these can point to an imbalance in the Metal element.


The season of winter is connected to the Water element. Find balance in this season with body warming foods, rest and plenty of good wholesome root vegetables, preventing cold from settling in the bones.

Using plenty of salt can show an imbalance in this element or finding food way to salty. With the colder weather, it’s time to eat warming foods, fruit will be less available, and vegetables are right there to take their place. Cooked whole grains are a great stable in winters and don’t forget those soups. Plenty of garlic, turmeric, ginger, and good quality proteins are also encouraged.

TCM principles about food

  • Don’t over eat. This causes stagnation in your body. Thinking about how lazy I feel after eating a big meal, I can totally agree.
  • Overeating or eating foods that aren’t aligned with what your body needs effects your vital energy.
  • How you combine food can also play a role in digestion. Eat fruit by itself, ayurvedic medicine tends to agree with this, your body uses different enzymes to digest grain and meat, so eating berries, for example, on their own is easier to digest.
  • Sleep is important for many functions including digestion.
  • Eat with gratitude and joy, appreciate your food. This can be done with prayer, or a deep breath before a meal. Put down the phone and take a minute to feel gratitude for food, it’s life-giving fuel and powers every cell in the body.


Inge Dougans Reflexology the 5 elements and their 12 meridian’s a unique approach; Thorsons

Axe, Dr Josh. 2021, Ancient Remedies for modern Life

Haas. Dr Elson M. 1981, Staying healthy with the seasons

Mary-Ann Shearer; The Natural way – a family guide to vibrant health, Ibis Books Jhb 1995

David R. Hamilton Ph.D.; Why the Woo-Woo Works; Hay House 2021

AYURVEDA Lifestyles Wisdom; Acharya Shunya; Sounds True – Boulder, Colorado 2017

Veronica Tift is a therapeutic reflexologist, registered with the AHPCSA, based in Benoni. She continues to grow her knowledge through attending international and local courses on various subjects related to reflexology. Veronica has a special interest in working with couples struggling with infertility.


Veronica Tift is a therapeutic reflexologist, registered with the AHPCSA, based in Benoni. She continues to grow her knowledge through attending international and local courses on various subjects related to reflexology. Veronica has a special interest in working with couples struggling with infertility.

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DSA News Spring 2023

– DSA Western Cape News –


Mitchells Plain Women’s Day event

As August was Women’s Month, we celebrated ourselves as African woman. We had breakfast with coffee and tea, and some ladies did an African dance. We really had an awesome amazing morning with the group.

Parow Community event

Sr Onyinye from Diabetes Community Wellness Group in Milnerton gave a talk at acommunity event in Parow recently.

Diabetes Awareness Day held for pastors’ wives

A Diabetes Awareness Day was held for pastors’ wives recently. The event was organised by Sr Onyinye from Diabetes Community Wellness Group in Milnerton and assisted by Sr Veronica from the Diabetes Group in Strandfontein.

Diabetes Screening Day for pastors

A Diabetes Awareness and Screening Day for pastors was held recently. It was organised by Sr Onyinye from Diabetes Community Wellness Group. Margot McCumisky from Diabetes SA gave a talk for the pastors who attended.

– DSA Port Elizabeth News –

Malabar Diabetes Wellness meeting

Dr Gracjan Podgorski, a specialist physician, was the guest speaker at the Malabar Diabetes Wellness meeting in August. His topic was Fifty Years of Taming the Sugar Dragon: Reflections and Revolution in Diabetes Management.

Many people attended this meeting as Dr Podgorski will be retiring the end of this year. He will be missed by so many people with diabetes in our area.

Dr Podgorski was born in Warsaw, Poland and studied at the Department of Internal Medicine and Diabetology, Warsaw Medical School and qualified as a specialist physician in 1989. He came to South Africa in 1991.

We met Dr Podgorski for the first time in 1994 when he was the guest speaker at our Diabetes Wellness meeting that was held in Newton Park.

Over the years, Dr Podgorski has shared his vast knowledge of diabetes at least once a year at our various wellness meetings and helped us all to learn more about diabetes. He will be missed, but the knowledge he has shared with so many will not be forgotten.

The Port Elizabeth Branch of Diabetes SA wishes Dr Gracjan Podgorski a peaceful and well-deserved retirement.

This photo was taken while Dr Gracjan Podgorski was giving his last address to a Diabetes Wellness group in Port Elizabeth.

Springdale Diabetes Wellness Group

Our Springdale Diabetes Wellness Group has shown that diabetes is a Family Affair. At the August meeting Clive Burke, co-ordinator of Springdale Diabetes Wellness Group, spoke about the importance of family sharing the care of living with diabetes.

The Springdale group is like a large family caring for each other and the community. They recently collected over 60 cakes of facial soap and donated this to the nearby Gelvandale Frail Care Centre. When one of their member’s lost her husband, they took a bunch of flowers to her.

Keeping it in the family Clive’s niece, Afton Thysse, shared her diabetic journey at the June meeting.

The versatile Clive Burke addressing the August meeting. Afton Thysse with her uncle, Clive Burke, when she was the guest speaker.

Newton Park Diabetes Wellness meeting

At the August Newton Park Diabetes Wellness meeting, we were treated to a most interesting presentation on the Benefits of Body Stress Release, an almost unknown topic to most of us.

By the end of the meeting, we were all wiser after seeing and hearing the presentation by Dawn Spies, qualified Body Stress Release practitioner. She also donated a book all about Body Stress Release to our diabetes library as well as two generous gift vouchers for our attendance draw, each valued at R1 200, for a series of Body Stress Release treatments

Dawn Spies in action at the August meeting.

– DSA Pretoria News –

June Wellness Support Group meeting

On a beautiful clear, sunny Saturday, over 30 people attended the informative and empowering presentation on wound care by the renown wound care specialist, Liezl Naude.

It was a terrific afternoon that focused on creating awareness, connecting and sharing information. We all learnt on prevention, importance of movement, wound management and practical things to do and type of shoes recommended for people living with diabetes. A diverse group of attendees were active participants, enthusiastic, friendly and welcoming.

A special thanks to Liezl for an informative talk. For further enquiries, contact the Eloquent Health & Wellness Centre at 012-3480940.

A warm welcome to the new members who joined the support group through the aQuellé sponsorship. The new members were presented with their membership cards and complimentary gift pack. It was a pleasure to see young people, familiar, regular and new faces. A big thank you to the DSA Pretoria Wellness Support Group team for bringing this event together.

July Wellness Support Group meeting

A special note of appreciation to Dr Padayachee, an expert who enlightened and advised us to be aware of reactions to medications. The session also covered risks of combining prescribed and over-the-counter self-medication. The reactions should immediately be brought to the attention of health professionals.

If you’re living with diabetes or interested to know more, make an effort to attend the once a month wellness support group meeting, there is always something new to learn. Knowledge is power.

August Wellness Support Group meeting

Hattie Lubbe, an audiologist, gave an educational talk on the effect of diabetes on the ear structure. She explained that hearing loss is regarded as a progressive degenerative disorder.

We were enlightened and empowered as she unpacked the link between diabetes and hearing loss, the signs and symptoms. The importance of annual screening, servicing hearing aids as well as how treating hear loss can slowdown dementia were discussed.

The next DSA Pretoria Wellness Support Group meeting will be on 16 September 2023, please save the date.

A call for volunteers

Diabetes SA is primarily a volunteer organisation and relies heavily on people living with diabetes and their families who pool their talents, share their knowledge and experiences and give of their time to help each other.

You too could be a great organiser and get everyone off on a big walk or you may, equally valuable, be a friendly face that is willing to initiate a support group, or you may equally have a valuable skill.

❤️ DSA Pretoria branch is looking for volunteers to assist with the spreading of awareness of diabetes in communities. Start-up wellness support groups, guidance and booklets will be provided.

❤️ Someone with a little time on their hands to assist with admin. You will need a laptop and internet.

❤️ We would love to be assisted with social media awareness.

❤️ People who are keen to start support groups in their areas. Guidelines and start-up materials are available

❤️ We are looking for young and old vibrant people who have a passion for sharing information and creating awareness.

❤️ People who could be coached for two years to take up various roles in the near future.

The majority of us are volunteers and not paid workers. Most of us are retirees who do not have offices and work from home.

Anyone is welcome to join the group; one can become a friend of the group and indicate what services one is willing or capable of assisting with.

For further information and to see where you may be able to assist people living with diabetes, please kindly contact Liz by email at:

Eating right doesn’t have to be boring

Lynette Lacock explains that by starting small and choosing low-GI food options can ease the transition into eating right.

Your doctor has confirmed that you have diabetes. Eating right along with all the dietary changes you need to make have been discussed. On your way home, all you think about is how you’re going to have to worry about what you eat, how you cook, what to buy and how this will impact your family meals.

Where to start

Instead of focusing on all the foods you’ll have to avoid, start thinking of all the exciting new foods you’ll be trying. Everyone gets stuck in a cooking rut and ends up making the same meals that the recipe is longer needed. Now you get a chance to try new foods that you can share with your family and friends.

First you need to understand how to make better food choices. You need to learn which foods are diabetic friendly and why. The great news is that you don’t have to memorise everything or carry around lists of healthy food. You can google glycaemic index charts or download an app, such as Glycemic Index. Diabetes Diary that can help you make better food choices on the spot. Another good website is

What is a glycaemic index?

A glycaemic index (GI) rating lets you know on a scale of 1 to 100 how quickly the food will elevate your blood glucose. As a person living with diabetes, you need to consume foods with a low-GI rating (1 – 55) that won’t cause your blood glucose to rise quickly. You’ll soon learn that there are healthier substitutes for almost everything you’re currently eating.

For example, a white cooked potato has a GI of 90 but a sweet potato has a GI of 50. By changing the type of potatoes you eat, you can already begin to lower the overall GI of your meal.

Another example of something most eat every day is bread. White bread has a GI of 100 and brown bread has a GI of 55. So, by changing they type of bread you and your family eat everyday can have huge health benefits, even if you don’t have diabetes.

Glycemic Index. Diabetes diary

There are many ways to adjust your food choices without sacrificing the taste you and your family are used to. The free app,  Glycemic Index.Diabetes diary, has the GI ratings of most foods. It allows you to look up the GI ratings of foods you’re eating, and you can search for a similar alternative with a lower rating.

You can use it while food shopping until you learn which foods have lower glycaemic indexes. Plus, this app also allows you to add your glucose, weight and blood pressure readings.

There are other similar apps on the market. Find one that you like and familiarise yourself with the low-GI foods.

See the chart belowfor a few examples of foods and their GI ratings.

Start small

Start with a few simple substitutions and your family won’t even notice. Stews and soups are the easiest way to introduce new vegetables because either you puree them and no one is any wiser, or they are mixed in with everything else and go unnoticed.

Another easy way to make your stews is to use a slow cooker. The meat is always tender, and the vegetables start to disintegrate which is great news for those with kids who don’t like vegetables.

You can find plenty of low-GI recipes to suit your family’s taste. Even though you might hear a few complaints about all the new foods, your family and friends will never be able to say your cooking is boring.


Sr Lynette Lacock


Sr Lynette Lacock received her Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing and Biofeedback Certification in Neurofeedback in the US. She has over 30 years’ experience in healthcare which has enabled her to work in the US, UK and South Africa. Initially specialising in Cardiothoracic and Neurological ICU, she now works as an Occupational Health Sister. She is passionate about teaching people how to obtain optimum health while living with chronic conditions.

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Diet and job performance

Estée van Lingen, a dietitian, explains the importance of a healthy balanced diet to enhance job performance.

The modern workplace is often fast-paced and demanding, requiring you to be at your best both mentally and physically. Achieving peak performance in any job, requires more than skills and knowledge, it also depends on the foundation of good health.

A healthy diet plays a crucial role in fuelling the body and mind to help support focus, productivity, and overall job performance. It also prevents staff from being off sick regularly.

The relationship between diet and job performance

What you eat has a direct impact on your energy levels, mood and cognitive abilities. The food you eat can provide your body with the necessary nutrients that helps it to function optimally. Just like a car needs fuel and oil to operate, your body needs the right nutrients to provide it with the best energy possible.

The opposite is also true where the lack of the right nutrients can prevent you from performing optimally and having the correct energy, leading to mistakes in your job. Several studies have linked diet to job performance showing that individuals who maintain a healthy diet tend to have better productivity, decision-making skills and emotional well-being.

A balanced diet for optimal cognitive function

A well-balanced diet consisting of a variety of nutrient-rich foods is essential for maintaining optimal cognitive function. Nutrients such as omega 3 fatty acids, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals are known to support brain health and enhance cognitive abilities. Including unprocessed foods like fatty fish (salmon, trout, mackerel, pilchards and sardines), nuts, leafy greens as well as a variety of vegetables and fruits (especially berries) and whole grains in your diet can significantly contribute to improved focus, memory and problem-solving skills.

Balanced energy levels help to sustain focus

Maintaining steady energy levels throughout the workday is vital for sustaining focus and concentration. Consuming complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains and vegetables, can offer a gradual and consistent energy release. This helps to prevent the energy crashes that are frequently experienced, particularly during the late afternoon, following the consumption of sugary snacks or heavily processed foods.

A steady energy supply ensures consistent productivity and mental clarity, enabling you to perform at your best throughout the day. Small servings of high fibre or complex carbohydrates can be consumed throughout the day, instead of all at once which can lead to a drop in energy levels.

Managing stress and promoting mental well-being

Work-related stress is a common issue that can negatively affect job performance and overall job satisfaction. A nutritious diet can play a role in managing stress by supporting the body’s ability to cope with stressors. Foods like avocados, dark chocolate and green tea contain compounds that have been shown to reduce stress hormones and promote a sense of calmness.

Other activities can also be incorporated to assist in managing stress like breathing exercises, going for a short walk during your work day, doing hobbies or exercising after work.

The importance of hydration

Hydration is another critical aspect of maintaining optimal job performance. Since your body consists of more than 75% of water, and all body processes uses water in some way, dehydration can lead to decreased cognitive function, reduced focus, and impaired decision-making abilities. It’s essential to drink enough water throughout the day to stay hydrated and keep the brain functioning at its best.

The requirements for each person are different and you can slowly build up to your unique goal. Start where you are at, for example, two glasses of water then slowly increase it with another glass per day for the first week then with two glasses the next until you get to about 1,5 – 2 litres of water per day.

If you have very light-yellow urine, it’s a good indication that you are well-hydrated. The darker it is, the more water you need to incorporate. Coffee and caffeinated drinks don’t count towards your water goal as it also dehydrates the body.

While you’re increasing water intake, you also want to decrease intake of caffeinated drinks. Herbal teas can count towards water intake as long as it doesn’t have sugar or honey added.

Customising your diet to your job.

While general dietary guidelines can be helpful, it’s essential to recognise that your needs may vary based on the nature of your job, activity level and personal health conditions. Consulting with a registered dietitian can provide personalised advice on tailoring a diet to meet specific job demands and health goals.

Basic dietary changes to improve the quality of your diet

  • Eat a healthy balanced breakfast. Breakfast doesn’t necessarily refer to eating as soon as you wake up. It’s basically the first meal you have. The key is to choose a time when you regularly have your first meal e.g. daily at 8am or 10am. Include a lean protein with breakfast, for example: eggs, low-fat cottage cheese, high protein cereal or nuts and seeds. Avoid refined and processed starches (white bread, pasta, baked goods) that will drop your blood glucose and spike it during the day, leaving you drained.
  • Have smaller more regular meals instead of one large meal per day. Regular meals can be anything between three to six times per day, but still sticking with your total daily allowance.
  • Don’t replace meals with coffee.
  • Avoid sugary or processed snacks during the day. For example, sweets, crisps, donuts, croissants, muffins, fizzy drinks, energy drinks, etc.
  • Have healthy snacks available that you can snack on when needed e.g. fruit, nuts and seeds, yoghurt, low-carb protein bars, eggs, Provitas with peanut butter or low-fat cottage cheese, avocados (mashed as a dip for raw vegetables or on a Provita).
  • Include protein with most meals as well as fibre in the form of vegetables, grains or legumes. Also add healthy fats to the meal such as olive oil, olives, avocados, nuts and seeds.
  • Plan and pack meals and snacks ahead so that you don’t end up at the office ravenous and ordering in or buying take-out.
  • When take-out is the only option, opt for healthier options e.g. grilled, not fried; have salads without dressings; leave out the chips; don’t add a fizzy drink to the meal; and decrease the portion sizes.
  • Take a break when eating (even if it’s just 10min) and don’t eat while you’re busy working. When you do these two things together, the brain doesn’t register you have eaten or how much you have eaten, and you can easily overconsume food. You’ll also eat much faster when you’re busy working compared to when you focus on what you’re eating which can again affect your digestive health.
  • It’s good to take breaks in between working. For example, when consuming snacks as this will also give a break to your brain so you can be more productive when returning to work. During breaks, you can consume water or walk around which will help you achieve your water and movement goals.

In summary

Maintaining a healthy diet isn’t only beneficial for overall well-being but also plays a crucial role in enhancing job performance and preventing illness and sick days. A well-nourished body and mind can lead to increased focus, sustained energy levels and improved cognitive function, all of which are vital for excelling in any job. By making conscious choices about what you eat, you can pave the way for success in your professional life while prioritising your long-term health and happiness. Remember, a well-fed mind is a powerful tool in conquering the challenges of the modern workplace.

Estée van Lingen is a registered dietitian practicing in Randburg and Fourways, Gauteng. She has been in private practice since 2014 and is registered with the HPCSA as well as ADSA and served on the ADSA Gauteng South Committee for 2020 – 2022.


Estée van Lingen is a registered dietitian practicing in Randburg and Fourways, Gauteng. She has been in private practice since 2014 and is registered with the HPCSA as well as ADSA and served on the ADSA Gauteng South Committee for 2020 – 2022.

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Diabetes data tips

We learn tips for recording diabetes data and how digital support, such as smartphone apps, make managing it so much easier.

You know how important it is to document diabetes data. You also know that keeping a diabetes diary requires patience, discipline, and neat handwriting because your diabetes healthcare team should ultimately be able to make sense of it. What you may not know is how much easier it can be with digital support, such as smartphone apps.

Diabetes diary or app: means to an end

In theory, it doesn’t matter whether you electronically extract your diabetes data from the blood glucose meter, manually write it in a diabetes diary, or initially stick colourful Post-it notes with values on the refrigerator.

However, healthcare professionals often report that handwritten diabetes diaries are incomplete or that errors creep in. This can affect the quality of the recorded data, ultimately harming the quality of diabetes therapy.

Therefore, especially if you prefer to keep your diabetes data in a classic diary, it’s essential to proceed systematically and with discipline. This way, the data can support you in organising your life with diabetes to improve your quality of life. For example, take notes for individual measurements; this will help you better understand how specific events, such as a birthday party or a hiking trip, influence your blood glucose levels. This allows you to become more familiar with your body’s reactions, regardless of the choice of tool.

If you want to keep up with the times, you can also take advantage of the numerous benefits of digital solutions for your therapy. With some technical assistance, you can:

  • Quickly and easily review data.
  • Better recognise the connections between insulin, blood glucose and meals.
  • Increase your awareness of blood glucose values and how they are influenced.
  • Share your data with your healthcare team.

Diabetes apps: more than just a diabetes diary

One of the simplest ways to keep track of your diabetes documentation is by using a tool that you probably already have with you all the time: your smartphone.

By using a diabetes app, you can easily ensure that you document all measured values. If you opt for a solution where the measured blood glucose values are automatically transferred to the app, the process becomes even easier.

The pros of mySugr app

If you use a blood glucose meter like the Accu-Chek Instant, the mySugr app automatically stores every measured value on your smartphone via Bluetooth. This combination offers additional features such as meal photos and a bolus calculator.

Do you want to customise how you view your health data? With mySugr, you can choose from charts, tables, or statistics that work best for you. It’s easy to use; just swipe through your phone to see more.

Have you been experiencing slightly elevated values lately? Quickly check your average values for the past seven days to see if you’re on track or if there’s a pattern to recognise. Also, try to identify when your blood glucose trend changes. This can often help you understand which life circumstances contributed to these values.

Please note that some features mentioned here are only available with mySugr Pro. However, if you pair your Accu-Chek Instant meter with the mySugr app and synchronise your readings, you’ll automatically upgrade to mySugr Pro for free.

Remember, you don’t have to manage diabetes on your own. There are plenty of resources available to help you stay on track.

Download the mySugr app now!

You can download the mySugr app in the Google Play store or the App Store.




Please contact our customer support team to check if your mobile device is compatible with the mySugr app.

For more information, contact your healthcare professional.


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Bernadette Gibbs – I’m not allowed to eat anything green

Bernadette Gibbs tells us how eating healthy can be an obstacle due to her not allowed to eat certain foods as she is on warfarin.

Bernadette Gibbs (53) lives in Mitchells Plain, Cape Town.

In December 2022, Bernadette Gibbs was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. She consulted with a GP as her hair was breaking and falling out and she was always thirsty.

She was prescribed metformin and advised to make lifestyle modifications, such as exercise and healthier food choices. “When I heard I had Type 2 diabetes, it took about a week for me to come to terms with it, reassuring myself that it could have been worse,” Bernadette explains.

“My nephew was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when he was seven years old. He is now 20. It’s been a long and tough journey for him and our family’s emotions, and I always have to remember what he has been through and still goes through, compared to my diagnosis. Thankfully, my nephew is extremely supportive, he always asks how I’m doing and constantly reminds me to take my meds.”

Diet is an obstacle

“Honestly, food is a tough one as I’m on warfarin (blood thinner) as well, and there’s lots I’m not allowed to eat, like anything green (so no green veggies). But, I try my best to eat as healthy as I can. Thankfully, my family supports me by all trying to eat healthy. We all look out for each other, and check up on each other, especially when one of us isn’t well.”

Bernadette says she has never been into keeping fit but she does walk often and takes each day as it comes.

Working at DSA

Bernadette started working at Diabetes South Africa head office in July 2023. Her duties involved administration. “My sister has been involved with the DSA Cape Town branch for a while due to my nephew having diabetes. She told me about the opening of a job and I applied and got it. I’m grateful for the opportunity I have been given as of course to work for an organisation that is doing good work in the diabetes community.”

Laurelle Williams is the Editor at Word for Word Media. She graduated from AFDA with a Bachelor of Arts Honours degree in Live Performance. She has a love for storytelling and sharing emotions through the power of words. Her aim is to educate, encourage and most of all show there is always hope. Feel free to email Laurelle on


Laurelle Williams is the Editor at Word for Word Media. She graduated from AFDA with a Bachelor of Arts Honours degree in Live Performance. She has a love for storytelling and sharing emotions through the power of words. Her aim is to educate, encourage and most of all show there is always hope. Feel free to email Laurelle on

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