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, the 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 is a testing time. On one side they have their treatment goals to reach their target blood glucose levels and HbA1c levels, and on the other side they feel tempted to take part in the festivals.
During the festival season, many people with diabetes throw caution to the 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). Although after the complete feast, most people feel guilty of consuming high calorie, oily foods along with sugary and creamy sweets which 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 is yet another occasion that does not go without a cake. So in the end, for a person with diabetes, does the celebration of a festival comes at the price of good health?
Tips for People with Diabetes to enjoy Festivals
There are two types of behaviour’s 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 medication and exercise.
• Continue self-monitoring of blood glucose levels.
• It would be unrealistic to keep away from rich foods during festivals but can reduce portion sizes.
• Include high fibre foods along with the rich high-calorie foods.
• As far as possible, avoid red meat. Go for fish.
• Instead of deep-fried foods, opt for baked and grilled non-vegetarian foods.
• If sweets are prepared sweets at home, prepare them with skimmed milk instead of full-fat milk.
• Use stevia for sweetening instead of sugar.
• Stay well hydrated.
• Do not snack on high-calorie food items such as samosas or papad’s, instead go for roasted almonds, walnuts, and hazelnuts.
• Adjust insulin/medicine dosage as per carbohydrate intake.
• Reduce intake of caffeine-containing products.
• Try to eat on a smaller plate. This gives a sense of fullness.
Diabetes does pose certain restrictions, but that does not mean that the fun in life is over. person can have a good time with friends and family during this festival season, but not at the cost of diabetes control. Festivals are celebrated to create memories, and to cherish them. Take good care of health and celebrate many more!
In Ayurveda, diabetes is referred to as 'Madhumeha,' and as part of its management, Ayurveda, too, suggests avoiding excess intake of sweets and simple carbohydrates. It is imperative to include more green and leafy vegetables.
*Gooseberries or amla (Phyllanthus Emblica) - Dried fruit powder 3-6 gm with warm water
*Turmeric or Haldi (Curcuma longa) - Rhizome 1-3 gm with lukewarm water
*Blackberries or Jamun (Syzygium cumini) - Seed powder 3-6 gm with water
*Medhasringi (Gymnema Sylvestre) - Leafs 3-6 gm
*Fenugreek or Methi (Trigonella foenum graecum) - Leaves and seed 3-6 gm with water
*Kumari (Aloe vera) juice or leaf Pulp 10-15 ml
*Neem (Azadirachta indica) - Seeds, Leaf and stem bark 3-6 gm with water
*Vijayasara (Pterocarpus marsupium) - stem 3-6 gm with water
*Karela (Bitter gourd-Momordica charantia) - seeds 3-6 gm with water
One or two of the above herbs can be used by the patients to manage their sugar level during the festival season and even after festivals. Aimil pharmaceuticals in association with CSIR has introduced an effective anti-diabetic with brand name BGR-34, which contains herbs like Daruharidra, vijaysaar, gudmaar, etc. and its regular use is helpful to manage diabetes.