Managing Diabetes during Festivals

We Indians just love to celebrate! We have loads of festivals for that. We have festivals for the harvest season, for the victory of good over evil, festival of lights, colors, and lots more! And, inevitably all these festivals have their fair share of feasting that can be hard for a diabetic to control diabetes.

From the month of October till December, we have many festivals lined up starting with Dussehra, Diwali, Chhath Puja, and ending with Christmas. So for people with diabetes, this sureis a testing time. On one side they have their treatment goals to reach their target blood glucose levelsand HbA1c levels, and on the other side they feel tempted to partake in the festivities.

Is it Festivals vs. Good Health?

During festival season, many people with diabetes throw caution to wind and indulge in the gaiety of the festivals only to find themselves having high blood sugar levels. On the other hand, people who fast during Dussehra might experience low blood sugar levels (hypoglycemia).

When it comes to Dussehra, different parts of the country celebrate Dussehra in different, but colorful ways. All the people celebrating are guilty of consuming high calorie, oily foods along with sugary and creamy sweets. This might go well with people who are not diabetic and who do not have high cholesterol, but for a diabetic this can mean a sudden spike in the blood glucose levels.

In the case of Diwali, it is of course another occasion to feast on rich foods. Similarly, Christmas isyet another occasion that does not go without a cake. So in the end, for a person with diabetes, does celebration of a festival come at the price of good health?

Let’s take a pragmatic approach

Diabetes mellitus (both type 1 or type 2) is certainly a demanding condition.It is a condition which is caused either due to inadequate utilization of the insulin produced or due to a severe drop in the production of the insulin.This leads to an increase in the presence of glucose in the blood vessels.
Though people might not feel the immediate pinch, there is certainly a severe impact on the quality of life over a period of time due to the nature of diabetes complications. It can lead to life-threatening kidney diseases, eye diseases, and nerve diseases. It is a leading cause for non-trauma related foot amputations.

In fact, poor control of diabetes can have severe impact even in the short term. It can lead to hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)and hyperglycemia (high blood sugar).

Low blood sugar symptoms:

• Rapid heartbeat.
• Blurry vision.
• Dizziness.
• Headache.
• Confusion.
• Shaking.
• Sweating.
• Hunger.

Very low levels of blood sugars can lead to a seizure or even a coma. So, it is important for a person to realize the presence of these symptoms and consume 15 grams of quickly digestible carbs (sugar) and consult a doctor immediately.

High blood sugarsymptoms:

• Excessive urination.
• Abdominal pain.
• Shortness of breath.
• Confusion.
• Dry mouth.
• Nausea and vomiting.
• Blurred vision.
• Fatigue.

If left untreated, hyperglycemia can lead to diabetic ketoacidosis (a life-threatening condition) and diabetic coma.

It is for this reason there is a need to take a pragmatic view to ensure good quality of life. One should properly enjoy festive moments of life with family and friends, and at the same time, one should keep an eye on diabetes control.

Tips for people with Diabetes to enjoy Festivals

There are two types of behaviors in people with diabetes during festival times. One set of people tend to be reckless and celebrate the festival with indulgence. There is another set of people who, due to the fear of diabetes, have a bland festival. It is important to strike a balance between these two approaches and lead a fulfilling life!

• Do not skip your medication and exercise.
• Continue self-monitoring of blood glucose levels.
• It would be unrealistic to ask you to keep away from rich foods during festivals, but you can reduce portion sizes.
• Include high fiber foods along with the rich high calorie foods you consume.
• As far as possible, avoid red meat. Go for fish.
• Instead of deep fried foods, opt forbaked andgrillednon-vegetarian foods.
• If you are preparing sweets at home, prepare them with skimmed milk instead offull fat milk.
• Use jaggeryor stevia for sweetening instead of sugar.
• Stay well hydrated.
• Do not snack on high calorie samosas or papads. Instead go for roasted almonds, walnuts, and hazelnuts.
• Adjust your insulin dosage as per your carbohydrate intake.
• Reduce intake of caffeine-containing products.
• Try to eat in a smaller plate. This gives you a sense of fullness when you look at the plate.
• Consume alcohol in moderation*

(Apollo Sugar Clinics does not recommend the consumption of any alcoholic beverage)
Diabetes does pose certain restrictions, but that does not mean that the fun in your life is over. You can have a good time with your friends and family during this festival season, but not at the cost of your diabetes control. We celebrate festivals to create memories, and to cherish them. Take good care of your health and celebrate many more!

*Tips for people with Diabetes to fast during Navratri

Navratri, a nine-day Hindu festival celebrated in the autumn every year, is all about music, dance, and a preparation for winter. There is both fasting and feasting and this can be a trying time for people with diabetes.

Here are a few tips for healthy fasting for diabetics:

1.Have slow absorbing foods (which have low glycemic index) before you begin the fast. Choosing these types foods will keep you filled up and keep your blood glucose levels more even during the fast. Fruits, vegetables and salad can also be included
2.Can eat roasted phoolmakhana, roasted peanuts, paneer, water chestnuts (singhara), pumpkin raita, kheeraraita. Amaranth flour can be used for making chapati. Potato should not be consumed.
3.If you take insulin, you may have to adjust the dose of insulin as the requirement of insulin may reduce upto 40%.
4.It’s recommended that you check your blood sugar levels a few times during the day. Fast should also be broken if blood sugar is less than 70 mg per percentage in the first few hours after the start of the fast.
5.Don’t forget to take your medication or insulin on time.
6.If you feel the sugar level is dropping, immediately eat curd mixed with little sugar.
After knowing the diet, let’s have a look at what doctors say to diabetics who indulge in fasting. Here are some facts:
7.Don’t leave your stomach empty for more than 2 hours at a stretch. Drink milk or have something light to eat like fruit.
8.Consume lukewarm lemon water twice a day.



Kuttu or buckwheat flour- 5tbsp
Arbi or colocasia (boiled and mashed)- 2tbsp
Ajwain or carom seeds- 1 pinch
Green chilies- 4 (chopped)
Ghee- 2tbsp
Potatoes- 2 (boiled)
Ginger- ½ inch (chopped)
Turmeric- 1 pinch
Red chili powder- 1/2tsp
Coriander leaves- 2 stalks (chopped)
Sendanamak or rock salt- as per taste

Procedure for Filling: Mash the boiled and peeled potatoes into a uniform mass. Add rock salt and turmeric to it. Mix them using your fingers. To the pan, add 1tbsp of ghee. Season with half chopped green chilies. Add the ginger and sauté for one minute. Then, add the mashed potatoes. Stir and cook on low flame for three to four minutes until the potatoes turn golden brown. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves and take it off the flame. Procedure

For Dosa: Mix the mashed arbi with the kuttukaatta. Add sendanamak, red chili powder, green chilies and ajwain to it. Add one cup of water and mix well until the batter gets the right consistency. Take a flat pan and pour a ladle full of the batter on it. Sprinkle ghee on the sides so that the dosa gets fried crisply. Place the filling at the middle of the dosa and fold it over. You must serve this kuttukadosa with coconut chutney when it is piping hot.