In its latest move to promote healthy eating, Woolworths has announced that it will be supporting World Diabetes Day, November 14, with a month of activities aimed at raising awareness of this disease and the important role nutrition plays in helping to control it. The retailer has joined forces with Diabetes South Africa in an effort to address the growing need for diabetes education and prevention programmes. The International Diabetes Foundation estimates that there are currently nearly 850 000 South Africans with diabetes and that the number is expected to grow. In fact it’s estimated that one in five people over the age of 35 has type 2 diabetes, and many of them don’t even know it. There are also still a lot of misconceptions about the role of nutrition in diabetes. We’d like to help dispel some of these myths by helping our customers learn more about it, explains Zyda Rylands, Managing Director of Foods at Woolworths. She continues, “The main reason Woolworths embarked on what we call our Good Food Journey over a decade ago is because we care about our customers’ health. It’s why, for example, we’ve reduced both sugar and salt in many of our foods, eliminated HVOs, and more. We receive a lot of enquiries from diabetics about what Woolies foods they should or shouldn’t eat, and as part of our on-going efforts to help our customers understand the importance of good nutrition in diabetes, World Diabetes Day provides an ideal opportunity for us to really focus our attention on diabetes education.¨ Throughout November, Woolworths will be assisting diabetic customers in making better food choices through various activities including dietician-led shopping tours and product displays in selected stores as well as by providing online information and assistance via the ‘Ask the dietician’ link on Among the myths that Woolworths plans to address are that diabetics should eat special diabetic food, that diabetics can’t eat any sugar or sugar foods, that there are certain fruits diabetics shouldn’t eat, and that eating too much sugar causes diabetes. Despite the fact that these are widely believed, none of these statements is actually true, and, in fact, according to Woolworths dietician, Maryke van Zyl, there are few foods diabetics should avoid entirely. The key to nutrition for diabetics, she says, is to eat a wide variety of foods and focus on balanced meals. I deal with customer enquiries from diabetics virtually every week¨ says van Zyl. “Most of them are either asking for help in choosing products suitable for diabetics, or asking why Woolworths doesn’t sell specific diabetic foods. I explain that it’s important to remember that people with diabetes don’t have to follow a special diabetic diet. People with diabetes can eat the same foods the family enjoys, as long as they are good choices. The dietary guidelines for people with diabetes are very similar to those recommended for everyone else, eating less sugar and fat, more fibre-rich starchy foods, and more fruits and vegetables, with moderate amounts of lean meat and fish, as well as low fat milk and dairy products. There is no one perfect food, so including a variety of different foods and watching portion sizes are key to a healthy diet.¨ Van Zyl has compiled a list of 10 simple guidelines to help diabetics and their families choose foods wisely (see annexure 1). She adds, I’m also always happy to provide a list of Woolworths foods that are suitable for diabetics. What surprises most people is how long that list is.¨ She does add a caveat: The fact is, we’re all unique individuals, so there is no one eating plan that’s suitable to all diabetics. It’s important for diabetics to consult a registered dietician with a special interest in diabetic nutritional care to assist in balancing food intake with the use of insulin and oral medications.¨ During November there will be informative product displays in more than 50 Woolworths stores around the country as well as dietician-led tours at Woolworths Eastgate, Menlyn and Sandton in Gauteng, at Woolworths Tygervalley and Cavendish in the Western Cape, and at Woolworths The Pavilion in Westville, KwaZulu-Natal during the week of the 8th – 12th of November. Space on these tours is limited so be sure to book on through the ‘Ask the Expert’ link. For more information about healthy eating for diabetics and to contact Maryke for advice, visit the Woolworths web site. ENDS NOTES FOR EDITORS World Diabetes Day World Diabetes Day (WDD) is celebrated every year on November 14. The World Diabetes Day campaign is led by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) and its member associations. It engages millions of people worldwide in diabetes advocacy and awareness. World Diabetes Day was created in 1991 by the International Diabetes Federation and the World Health Organization in response to growing concerns about the escalating health threat that diabetes now poses. World Diabetes Day became an official United Nations Day in 2007. The campaign draws attention to issues of paramount importance to the diabetes world and keeps diabetes firmly in the public spotlight. This year sees the second of a five-year campaign that will address the growing need for diabetes education and prevention programmes. While the themed campaigns last the whole year, the day itself is celebrated on November 14, to mark the birthday of Frederick Banting who, along with Charles Best, first conceived the idea which led to the discovery of insulin in 1922. (excerpted from The Good Food Journey The Good Food Journey is the name we¡¦ve given to our ongoing quest to offer South Africa food that’s better for our customers, better for the environment and better for the people who produce it. It encompasses everything from not using additives like tartrazine and MSG in our foods, switching to more natural flavourants, and offering more organic and free range choices, to caring for the welfare of animals and promoting healthy eating as part of a healthy lifestyle. In recent years Woolworths has removed hydrogenated vegetable oils (HVOs) from its fresh prepared food and has removed over 35 tons of salt (based on average annual sales), primarily from its breads, cereals and cold meats, and some 79 tons of sugar from its chilled 100% fruit juices and nectars. Diabetes Myths Busted Myth 1: Eating too much sugar causes Diabetes Eating sugar does not cause diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is caused by genetics and unknown factors that trigger the onset of the disease; type 2 diabetes is caused by genetics and lifestyle factors. Eating a diet high in kilojoules, whether from fat or sugar can cause you to become overweight which increases your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Myth 2: Diabetics can’t eat any sugar or sugar foods Having diabetes does not mean you have to have a sugar-free diet. In the past, avoidance of sugar has been a major focus of nutritional advice for people with diabetes. However, research clearly shows that sugars are an acceptable part of a healthy diet for those with diabetes, particularly sugars obtained from fruits, vegetables and dairy products. You should still be able to enjoy a wide variety of foods, including some with sugar. Up to 10% of total daily energy requirements may consist of added sugars, such as table sugar and sugar-sweetened products, without having a negative effect on blood glucose (sugar) control in people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes. Myth 3: Certain fruits should be avoided if you are a diabetic People sometimes think that if they have diabetes they cannot eat certain fruits, like grapes and bananas. The truth is that you can still achieve good blood glucose (or sugar) control by eating these fruits as part of a balanced diet. They have a similar sugar content per portion compared to other fruits. Grapes and bananas, li