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“Junk” food for diabetics

Ask the dietician: Genevieve Jardine

From our community: “My favourite food isn’t very good for me… I love braais and chips, hamburgers and hot dogs. Is there any way to make these delicious foods better for me? Help!” Thabo Duma.

All of us like a bit of pleasure in life, and nothing beats a treat now and again. The attraction of junk food lies in its “quick fix” ability to satisfy food cravings. Unfortunately, what makes junk food so delicious is also what makes it unhealthy. Junk food tends to be high in kilojoules, bad fats and refined carbohydrates. Because it tastes so good, it’s also hard to stop eating. You may get away with one biscuit, but 4 or 5 will cause a significant increase in blood sugar.

When relaxing with family and friends, you want to be able to enjoy holiday food: take-outs, braais and easy meals. There are definitely ways to enjoy these times without feeling left out – and without packing on the extra kilograms!

Healthy take-out

For take-out options, choose grilled chicken breast or beef hamburgers with salad (no chips!) Or try grilled chicken breast, spicy rice, coleslaw and green salad. Choose water or a diet fizzy drink to go with your meal, and obviously skip the dessert. Try to avoid food that’s high in fat and refined starch and sugar – pizza, deep fried chips and sugary drinks are all a bad idea.

Braai menu

Who said a braai couldn’t be healthy? Bring chicken or beef kebabs and braaied corn on the cob, with carrot salad and green salad on the side. These are a much better choice, and much lower in fat and carbs than boerewors and chops, garlic bread, pap and gravy or white bread rolls. And they’re delicious!

If you’re looking for delicious snacks, here are some yummy diabetic-friendly options:

SnackPortionEnergyCarbohydrate (including sugar)Fat
Popcorn (lite)2 cups popped636kj15g*7g
Dried fruit2-4 pieces381kj21g0g
Low GI biscuit1 biscuit (30g)440kj15.3g5.8g
Lean biltongHandful (30g)346kj1g2g

* Remember that one carbohydrate portion = 15g.

Compare those to regular snacks and you’ll see the difference:

SnackPortionEnergyCarbohydrate (including sugar)Fat
Chocolate1 bar (50g)1120kj30g15g
Energy bar1 bar (40g)739kj22g7g
Biscuits (with icing)2 biscuits (33g)676kj30g7g
Sweets (boiled)125g packet316kj18g0g
Potato crisps1 packet (30g)766kj24g12g


Published inFood

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