Winter tips for diabetics

Novo Nordisk South Africa shares five winter tips for diabetics.

Beanies, gloves, boots and jackets. These are the clothing items that help us keep warm during the cold winter months we find ourselves in currently. Coupled with heaters and hot beverages, many of us feel ready to brave the cold and chilly days ahead.

For people living with diabetes, winter is a time of adjustments. This is because during colder months diabetes patients have higher HbA1c levels than over the warmer months.[1]This increase can be attributed to changes in their diet and exercise, and the prevalence of colds and flu[2]. Therefore, people living with diabetes need to be extra vigilant and adjust their management plans during the colder months. Here are some tips and tricks to help you get through winter:

  1. Keep testing your blood sugar levels

Did you know that cold hands can make testing your blood glucose levels difficult? The trick is to try and warm your hands before you do the blood glucose test. Testing regularly will assist with catching any highs, or lows, and keep your sugar levels under control[3].

  1. Keep active even in the cold

Keeping active is important. Even though all you may want to do is stay indoors, under warm blankets and heaps of clothing. Even if the amount of physical exercise decreases, that is okay. As long as you do some form of exercise. It will help keep your blood glucose levels under control and keeps you warm in the process.

You can even start an indoor workout routine if bracing the cold doesn’t sound very appealing. A little activity each day will help with insulin sensitivity (in all types of diabetes) which can help the body to better regulate sugar levels[4].

  1. Watch what you eat

Winter food can be thought of as ‘comfort food’ because our bodies may require extra intakes to defend itself against the cold. So, where possible, stick to your meal plans.

You can also take advantage of diabetes-friendly seasonal fruits and vegetables in moderation, such as citrus fruits, nuts, root vegetables, and varieties of squash. Be careful of the easy and quick meals which only raise blood glucose[5].

  1. Boost your immunity

We know winter is when colds and flu take over and living with a chronic disease means taking even more precautions. Speak to your doctor about whether you should be taking medication in the event that you do get a cold or even about getting the flu vaccination. Bear in mind that when you do catch a cold or the flu, your energy levels decrease and your blood glucose levels could rise in response to the illness[6].

  1. Avoid the winter blues

Cold, unpleasant weather, lack of sunlight and stress in itself can cause blood sugar to rise. This is due to the body tapping into its stored glucose supplies and releasing sugar into the bloodstream – ‘preparing for battle’, i.e. making more sugar available to have the energy to fight whatever is causing you to feel stressed.  This is an example of how emotional and physical health are finely balanced in diabetes. So, it’s crucial to take care of both during winter[7]. It is therefore important to speak to friends and family if you are feeling overwhelmed, anxious or if you think you may be suffering from depression.

All it takes is a bit of extra effort to get through the shorter days and lack of sunlight. Making the necessary adjustments will ensure you are well equipped to make it through this winter.

Article supplied by Novo Nordisk South Africa.

Image credit – Coffee Geek


  1. 7 Tips to Keep Blood Sugar Under Control in Winter: Last accessed 08 June 2018
  2. 7 Tips to Keep Blood Sugar Under Control in Winter: Last accessed 08 June 2018
  3. Diabetes and Cold Weather: Last accessed 11 June 2018
  4. Diabetes and Cold Weather: Last accessed 11 June 2018
  5. 7 Tips to Keep Blood Sugar Under Control in Winter: Last accessed 11 June 2018
  6. [1]Diabetes and Cold Weather: Last accessed 11 June 2018
  7. Taking care of your emotional health: Last accessed 12 June 2018

Fabulite, simply fab for diabetics

Being diabetic definitely does not mean that you have to miss out on deliciously refreshing and filling treats. As the world focuses on Diabetes Awareness during the month of November it’s a good time to remember the nutritious and delicious options Parmalat’s range of no added sugar Fabulite yoghurt offers, and to include it in your diet as one of the suggested three servings of dairy a day adults should consume.

Fabulite eating yoghurt, Parmalat’s healthy alternative, is 100% no added sugar and fat-free, and offers a variety of great-tasting Fruit and Smooth flavours.

With fewer kilojoules than regular yoghurt, Fabulite is a guilt-free and delightful snack that can be enjoyed by health-conscious consumers.

The Fabulite Smooth range consists of Plain, Vanilla, Strawberry and Black Cherry flavours.

Fabulite has been part of the Parmalat family, known for its focus on quality, since its launch almost ten years ago (in 2008) when it was endorsed by the GI Foundation of South Africa (GIFSA) and Diabetes SA.

* The Parmalat Fabulite range is available in 175g and 1kg packs (Plain, Vanilla, Strawberry and Black Cherry flavours). The 6x100g variety pack is available in the following varients: Strawberry, Black Cherry and Vanilla.

Smooth(ie) sailing

ParmalatSmoothies made of healthy ingredients are a great way to boost your nutritional intake in a quick, all-in-one meal, snack or treat. But it’s important to make sure that the ingredients you use for a diabetic-friendly smoothie are healthy and not too high in sugar, fats or calories.

Enter Parmalat Fabulite… the perfect NO ADDED SUGAR, FAT-FREE dairy and fruit combo to use when you’re craving a deliciously healthy smoothie for a good start to the day or an anytime treat. Fabulite is of course also perfect for enjoying on its own as an on-the-go and healthy breakfast, snack or treat.

People living with diabetes who want to enjoy yoghurt should avoid yoghurts with packaged toppings and not buy yoghurt without checking the on-pack nutritional information.

Whole grains could be a great addition to a smoothie to make it crunchier and up the nutrition stakes. Just ensure that what you add contains no hidden sugars that will contribute to increased blood sugar. And always remember to control the serving size! You can consider using oats or bran when making a smoothie, but keep an eye on the product’s nutritional info, sugar and carbohydrate content; when the added up it should all still be within your daily allowed totals.

Another option for a fabulous Fabulite smoothie is adding some fresh blueberries and sliced almonds to a tub of Fabulite yoghurt of your choice.


The Nutrition Information Centre at Stellenbosch University (NICUS) provides a few diet tips to help prevent and treat type-2 diabetes:

  • Losing as little as five to 10% of your body weight improves insulin resistance;
  • Try to have at least two cups of dairy (milk, cottage cheese or yoghurt, or a plant milk alternative) per day, preferably low-fat products, because these products contain all the necessary protein and calcium, but with less fat.
  • Eat at least three balanced meals a day;
  • Drink at least six to eight glasses of water a day;
  • Increase your fibre intake by including foods such as wholewheat bread and pasta, whole grains, brown rice, legumes, fruit and veg, and oats in your daily diet;
  • Limit your fat intake, especially that of foods containing saturated and transfats. Rather opt for mono-unsaturated fats in limited amounts (for example use canola or olive oil instead of sunflower oil, or use avocado or peanut butter instead of margarine on bread);
  • Eat at least five portions of fruits and vegetables every day and include as much variety as possible;
  • Use healthy cooking methods (eat food raw, or boil, steam, bake, grill or braai it and use as little fat as possible when preparing your food);
  • If you consume alcohol (beer and wine), do so moderately (one to two glasses a day, and always with a meal), and
  • Manage your sugar intake and limit or avoid food that is very high in energy, but low in nutrients.


2016 statistics from the International Diabetes Federation, the World Health Organisation and the Centre for Disease Control paint a gloomy picture.

Worldwide, 415 million people were diagnosed as diabetic as opposed to 35 million patients with HIV and 14 million with cancer. Every six seconds a person dies from diabetes-related causes. Every 10 seconds two people develop diabetes and every 30 seconds, a lower limb is amputated due to diabetes-related complications.