Diabetes is a growing concern in South Africa and around the globe. At Woolies, we’re helping customers understand the important role good nutrition plays in managing the symptoms of diabetes by hosting dietitian-led store tours on World Diabetes Day, 14 November.

The International Diabetes Federation (IDF) estimates that close to 2 million South African adults, which make up 6.5% of the population, have diabetes. More recently, a national survey published in August 2013 (SANHANES-1, 2013) showed that 9.5 % of the study population has diabetes and 18.4 % are pre-diabetic.   This is a conservative estimate, as 50% to 85% of the population, particularly those living in rural areas, have not been tested and could push that statistic much higher. People with common conditions such as hypertension and obesity are at a greater risk of developing diabetes, so when it comes to preventing and managing the disease’s effects, a healthy lifestyle and good nutrition are essential.

The tours, which will include healthy cooking demos and product displays, will help educate diabetics and their families on how to make better food choices when they shop at Woolies. Says Woolworths dietitian, Cindy Chin, “We receive lots of enquiries from diabetics about which Woolies foods are best for them. These informative store tours are very important as they will give us the perfect opportunity to answer their questions, and at the same time, dispel many widely believed myths about living with diabetes.”


Myth 1: Eating too much sugar causes diabetes

Eating too much sugar does not cause diabetes, but an unhealthy lifestyle and poor nutrition may. It’s a combination of genetics and other unknown factors that trigger the onset of Type 1 diabetes, and Type 2 diabetes is caused by genetics and lifestyle factors. The truth is that a diet high in kilojoules can cause you to become overweight, increasing your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.


Myth 2: Diabetics can’t eat any sugar or sugary foods

Having diabetes doesn’t mean that you have to have a sugar-free diet. In the past, diabetics have been advised to avoid sugar as much as possible, but research shows that sugars from fruit, vegetables and dairy products are an acceptable part of a healthy diet. Diabetics should be able to enjoy a wide variety of foods, including some with sugar. In fact, up to 10% of total daily energy requirements may consist of sugars like table sugar and sugar-sweetened products, without having a negative effect on blood sugar levels.


Myth 3: People with diabetes should avoid certain fruits

The belief that diabetics should avoid certain fruits, like grapes and bananas, is a common misconception. You can still achieve good blood sugar control while incorporating these fruits into a balanced diet because they have a similar sugar content per portion to other fruits. Grapes and bananas are both healthy food choices for people with diabetes as they are high in fibre, low in fat and packed with vitamins and minerals.


Myth 4: Diabetics should eat special diabetic food

Many diabetics believe that foods labeled as ‘suitable for diabetics’ are beneficial or even essential for good health, when in fact many of these products can be high in saturated fat and calories and may still raise blood sugar levels. According to Cindy, the key to nutrition for diabetics is to include a wide variety of foods and focus on portion size and balanced meals.


Store tours will take place on World Diabetes Day on 14 November at Woolworths stores across country:

  • Nicolway in Johannesburg at 09:30,  
  • Parkview Kimiad in Pretoria at 14:00,
  • Tygervalley in Cape Town at 10:00,
  • Gateway in Durban at 09:30,  
  • Walmer in Port Elizabeth at 10:00.


Numbers are limited so email MTD@woolworths.co.za to book your spot. For more information on managing diabetes and for delicious diabetic-friendly recipes, visit our ‘Healthy Living’ hub at www.woolworths.co.za.