Anél – An Interview

Anél and I come a long way. She has helped lower my Hba1C, loose weight and just overall motivate me. I trust her completely when it comes to dietary requirements and advice.

I asked her a few questions.

1. Job Title and Qualifications

BSc Dietetics (2002), Masters in Nutrition (2011) – Stellenbosch University

2. Who is Anél?

I am a private practising dietitian, wife and mom to 2 very busy boys. I studied BSc Dietetics at Stellenbosch University and qualified in 2002. After completing my compulsory community service year in Potchefstroom, I then travelled to the United Kingdom where I lived and worked for 4 years as a locum dietitian and later on worked as a Specialist Paediatric Dietitian. I gained a wealth of experience during my stay in the UK – consulting paediatric patients in the Allergy, Cystic Fibrosis, Diabetes and Feeding clinics as well as patients on ward level, stroke rehabilitation and adult ICU.

We returned to South Africa in 2008 to persue a career in private practice and joined Stellenbosch & Vergelegen Nutrition Centres. Furthering my skills in adult and paediatric nutrition and dietetics.

I continued my studies and completed my Master’s Degree in Nutrition (2011), Stellenbosch University – my thesis focused on Childhood Obesity.

In 2013 I opened my own private practice, Paarl Dietitians. ​I often present talks to the public and other health professionals – keeping them up to date with the latest nutrition-related topics and research. I also consult regularly for the media and has contributed to publications such as Baba & Kleuter and Women’s Health magazines, as well as online magazine Parenting Hub, on various nutrition related topics.

My time in private practice has provided me with special skills to treat and manage weight loss, insulin resistance and associated metabolic syndrome. I have worked closely with multi-disciplinary teams in the past, to treat eating disorders and is another special interest. Other special interest includes Nutrigenomics (DNA testing) and Women’s health (pregnancy, polycystic ovarian syndrome).

I have a passion for helping people. I like to socialise with friends and family. I love to watch a good ‘Series’ on TV and I might be slightly addicted to online shopping.

3. What made you choose to become a Dietician?

My grandma was a diabetic and she saw a dietitian back in the 80’s. It fascinated me that there are people (i.e Dietitians) out there that can tell you what you should eat and should not and in such a manner improve your overall health and manage disease.

4. What is the best part about your job?

The best part of my job is that every day is different because people are all different and come in with so many different personalities and lifestyles and I feel that I can make a difference to someone else’s life. It is truly a privilege to work with others and help them to be a healthier version of themselves. By changing their lifestyle and dietary habits for the better and seeing their self-confidence improve or them feeling heathier and better.

5. What is the worst part about your job?

The worst part is when I meet new people or in social settings and they say something like “don’t look at my plate, I’m being bad today’.  Quite frankly, if you’re not my client, I don’t care what you choose to eat. It’s your choice, and the less attention you bring to it, the less I’m going to notice. O and yes, it really annoys me when people ask for free dietary advice!

6.Name one thing you can not love without.

I know it is cheesy, but my husband, kids, family and friends.

7. To Fruit or not to fruit

Often people with diabetes are told they can’t eat fruit because they are too sweet or contain sugar. The concern has been that because fruits contain sugar, it makes your blood glucose go up.

All fruits contain natural sugar (fructose), but it also contains very important nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and fibre.

Fruit in small amounts and in correct portion sizes can be eaten by diabetics. Portion size is very important when considering the biggest effects on your blood glucose levels. A portion of fruit contains about 15-20g carbohydrate on average, which is similar to a slice of bread. To put things in perspective, just a can of cola contains 35g carb and a medium slice of chocolate cake contains 35g of carbs as well. So, if a diabetic have fruit – stick to one portion at a time in order not to exceed 15-20g carbohydrates – and then the effect on blood glucose levels won’t be so dramatic.

Considering the above-mentioned – when fruit are eaten as a snack, it is also important that fruit intake should be distributed throughout the day (not eaten ALL at once).

The best fruit options are fruit that have a low GI (glycaemic index).

Fruit juices on the other hand are very high in natural sugars and they have less fibre than the whole fruits. Because you can get through a lot of juice within a relatively short period of time, compared to eating the actual fruit, you may end up loading up with a lot of carbs over that period. Depending on how your diabetes is managed, this can result in your blood glucose levels going up. That is why you are better off eating the actual fruit and avoiding juices. If you want to drink fruit juice, then my advice would be to limit it to a maximum of a small glass (125ml), once a day. Ideally, I would recommend staying off the juice and using it as a way of managing “hypo’s” (very low blood sugar levels)

8. And the Keto Debate: Is high fat low carb good for Diabetics or not?

Few studies have shown that Ketogenic diets are very effective at achieving two common aims of diabetes control, lowering blood glucose levels and reducing weight.

 In my opinion, a Ketogenic diet could be beneficial in the case of type II diabetes but one should be more cautious in type I diabetics.

There is generally a lack of long-term studies into the safety and effectiveness of ketogenic diets in type I diabetics and, this is why a doctor’s opinion is needed before starting the diet. Some physicians are of the opinion that individuals with type I diabetes, often have some degree of renal impairment, and handling the build-up of ketones and acids in the body may cause too much stress on the kidneys.

Ongoing monitoring is needed if you do decide to adopt this very low carb approach to eating. Seeing your doctor regularly is important to make sure that your blood pressure, lipids, blood sugar, mood, and medications are within normal ranges as you lose weight. Adjustments are likely going to be necessary from time to time.

One should keep in mind that diet is a very individual thing – what works for the one person doesn’t necessarily work for another person. Therefore I encourage an individual approach since there is no ‘blueprint’ diet that will work for everyone.

9. Where can we find you?


Facebook and Instagram: Paarl Dietitians

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