Festivals in India are often associated with fasting as well as feasting, whether it is Navratras followed by Dussehra and Diwali, or Ramzan followed by Id. The markets are filled with sweets, and other foods rich in fat, sugar and salt. During this time, not only do we find an increase in newly detected cases of type-2 diabetes and other lifestyle disorders, but also the worsening of sugar control in known diabetics.
However, everyone over-indulges a little bit on special occasions. Diabetics too can indulge and enjoy themselves, but moderation is the key to enjoyment and managing the condition. Here are five tips to enjoy this festival season in good health.
1. Fasting and diabetes
Most religions exempt individuals from fasting if they are suffering from an illness. People diagnosed with diabetes fall in this category. Some, however, resist accepting this concession and successfully observe fasts. However, there are others who have suffered adverse effects on their health due to fasting.
Consult your doctor and learn about the food exchange system. For instance, eat a piece of barfi instead of your evening tea and biscuits.
It is essential for a person with diabetes to consult their doctor before undertaking a fast of any duration. Fasting is forbidden for people who have uncontrolled diabetes and diabetic complications such as like high blood pressure and angina, a history of diabetic ketoacidosis and any other intercurrent infection. Those who have undergone any surgery or are pregnant also need to avoid fasting. Even if a person has controlled diabetes, it is advisable for them to consult a doctor. A few rules must be considered:
· Do not stop taking medication, and note that the dosage, and timing of medication may need to change. This should be discussed with your healthcare team prior to fasting.
· Be sure to check your glucose level regularly, so medications can be adjusted as needed.
· If you experience symptoms of low blood sugar (such as sweating, anxiety, shaking, weakness or confusion), then you should immediately break your fast with a sugary drink followed by carbohydrate-rich food.
· Whenever you are allowed to eat, make sure to have lots of vegetables, fruits pulses, beans and whole grains as these are digested slowly, and raise your blood glucose gradually. Remember to drink plenty of low calorie and sugar-free fluids.
· Maintain your daily exercise, do not overeat after the fast ends, and minimise eating sweet or fatty foods
2. Feasting and diabetes
You can make healthy alterations to the recipes of tasty but "not so healthy" dishes, or change how you cook them. For instance, instead of deep frying cutlets you can grill them. Consult your doctor and learn about the food exchange system. This means that you can have some sweets in your diet instead of your normal food. For instance, eat a piece of barfi instead of your evening tea and biscuits.
Although most Indian sweets are rich in both sugar and fat as they are fried, some are 'healthier' than their counterparts. Rasgullas, rasmalai and sandesh come in this category.
It is essential to plan your meals especially if you are going to attend a feast. Have your snacks at regular timings but use less fat or oil, start your meals with salads and control your portion size. Avoid second helpings even if your friends and family members want you to eat more.
3. Don't forego exercise
It is recommended for everyone, including people with diabetes, to continue their regular daily activity in every season. Several studies indicate that light to moderate regular exercise while fasting is harmless. If your celebrations include a lot of activity, like dancing, then do consider snacking at regular intervals to prevent low blood sugar.
4. Drink wisely
If you are in a festive mood and want to drink alcohol, (even though it's not recommended and best avoided) remember that men should drink no more than three units a day, and women should limit themselves to two units. One unit of alcohol can include half a pint of normal strength beer (4%), a single 25ml measure of spirits, or a 125ml glass of wine (9%).
Do not drink on an empty stomach. It is always good to drink plenty of water and non-sugary drinks throughout the day to stay hydrated. This also keeps your blood glucose levels from becoming too high.
5. Medication and monitoring are essential
Monitor your blood glucose more frequently. Never skip your medication. If you feel that the dosage and timing of your medication needs to change, discuss it with your doctor. If you take insulin, ask your doctor to teach you dose adjustment according to your meals.
Remember, festivals can be enjoyed only when you are in good health.
The opinions expressed in this post are the personal views of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the views of HuffPost India. Any omissions or errors are the author's and HuffPost India does not assume any liability or responsibility for them.