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Fri Mar 06 02:34:44 CAT 2015

Diabetics get to dine out, too

SUBASHNI NAIDOO | 03 October, 2010 00:00
CAREFREE CATERING: Durban chef Xanthos Giannakopoulos has designed a menu for diabetics. He is one himself Picture: JACKIE CLAUSEN

Some South African restaurants and hotels have become "diabetic-friendly" in a bid to cater for the growing number of people afflicted with the disease.

The International Diabetes Federation - an umbrella organisation in over 160 countries - recently warned that the disease was fast becoming a silent epidemic, affecting 300 million people worldwide.

With 1.2 million South Africans living with diabetes, local hotels and restaurants are now tailoring their menus to suit the special dietary needs of these diners.

The Elangeni Hotel's Lingela restaurant, in Durban, recently launched a special diabetic menu - the first of its kind in South Africa.

The restaurant teamed up with Diabetes SA - an organisation promoting diabetes care and support - to create a diabetic-friendly buffet.

Executive chef Nicholas Froneman said the restaurant was moving towards a more seasonal and regional food concept in order to retain freshness and support local organic farmers.

La Pentola in Riviera, Pretoria, has also made dishes that cater for the dietary requirements of diabetics.

Owner and chef Shane Sauvage said:

"There is now no need for people to be wary of restaurants just because they are diabetic.

"Eating out can often bring stress, temptation, and high blood glucose levels for people with diabetes, and at no point should diabetics feel singled out."

He said the "special menu" included dishes limited in starch and sugar.

"We also make a special diabetic dessert where we use sugar made from natural fruit.

"We make sure we source best choice food and fresh fruit.

"We also incorporate brown starches and baby potatoes which are lower in sugar, giving them a freedom of choice when they dine."

Hein Raath, who runs Burgundy's Atterbury, a restaurant in Pretoria, redesigned his menu eight years ago after guests indicated that they could not enjoy a meal because the restaurant only catered for "normal people".

"We brought in organic wines and low-fat meals and introduced healthy eating.

"We even went to the extent of visiting the farms we sourced organic vegetables from to ensure they were legit," said Raath.

Brett Dungan, head of the Federated Hospitality Association of Southern Africa, welcomed the move towards diabetic menus.

"Not enough attention is paid to special requirements of customers and if these requirements are met, customers are happy to pay for it and this sets you apart from other hotels and restaurants."

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