Diabetics’ Guide to Survive the Festive Season

Your festival will only be great if you’re in a good health to enjoy it!

Annabelle D’Costa

For most of us, any festive season is synonymous with food-from sweet and savoury to all things in between. Overeating and cheating on diets is a natural phenomenon; it’s all fun and games until your blood sugar levels spike. If you’re a diabetic, living with the disease is a daily struggle that amplifies during the festivals such as Holi when there are mithais at every corner.

That being said, if you’re in good overall health and have been taking reasonable amounts of insulin on a daily basis, a day or two of indulgence in Holi food shouldn’t be a problem. Problem arises when these indulgences extend beyond Holi. If you slip into bad eating habits you could do yourself long-term damage. Here are a few tricks to help you manage diabetes especially on days where treats are the highlight.

Stick to Your Daily Schedule, Even on Holidays!

Make it a point to maintain your daily timetable—wake up, eat, exercise and take your insulin shots and any other medications at usual time. Check your blood sugar levels more frequently during the holidays, especially before leaving for a party or celebration.

It’s best to have your meals on time and not skip any just to make up for an earlier over-indulgence. This will help in maintaining the blood sugar levels. Avoid eating at irregular hours. “Skipping meals will only result in you going all out on your next meal or snack. Don’t let your fitness regime take a back seat during the festivities,” says Dr Tejal Lathia, Consultant Endocrinologist, Hiranandani Hospital, Vashi - A Fortis Network Hospital.

A small 30-minutes’ walk will not impact your hectic schedule. Dr Anil Bhoraskar, Senior Diabetologist, SL Raheja Hospital Mahim - A Fortis Associate suggests trying to get a minimum of six hours sleep even during the holidays.

Also read:

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Watch Out for that Mithai

Festivals are that time of the year when all the mithais, pedhas and laddus steal the culinary limelight. It is obvious to give in to your sweet tooth during Holi. However, diabetics are at a higher risk due to an increase in sugar content. Dr Bhoraskar, says that it’s okay to treat yourself to some sweet treats but remember to do so smartly. “People who crave sweets can eat a small piece of any mithai, so that it does not mar the festivity. However, in case you have gone overboard, you could make up for it by avoiding regular starchy food (pass that plate of rice and even dinner rolls) for each piece of mithai you had, and don’t forget to walk one extra mile too.”

Here’s a step-by-step Hindi video tutorial to help you whip some sugar-free payasam at home, perfect to share with family and friends:
Diabetics’ Guide to Survive the Festive Season

Homemade is the Best   

The best way to get your quota of desi desserts is to make them at home, so that you have better control on how much sugar and calories go in the making. Dr Bhoraskar suggests opting for natural sweeteners such as khajur or dates, figs and jaggery.

These alternatives will not only help take care of your sugar cravings but also promise a dose of health in each and every bite. Jaggery is rich in iron and can help flush out toxins from the body, dates and figs are also powerhouses of health, providing you with an instant dose of energy.

Apart from the sweeteners, Dr Bhoraskar says, “It is important to reduce the fat intake, so go easy on oil, butter and ghee.” He suggests opting for homemade ghee, however, restricting yourself to only two teaspoons per head.

Also read:

What makes Zucchini a Diabetes-friendly weight loss food

Eat and Drink Smart

Holi meals tend to be filled with oil-soaked and carbohydrate-rich foods. Amidst the high-carb fare, try balancing your meal with some fibre-filled vegetables, healthy fats from nuts and protein from meat, paneer or tofu.

Avoid piling up on refined carbohydrates; your blood sugar will spike up at the moment but will crash later during the day, leaving you again hungry. Dr Lathia adds that it’s important to stay hydrated throughout the day and in-between your indulgences. She suggests carrying water bottles wherever you go. Besides, an oral glucose gel available over the counter is also a good option to keep handy, she says.

Control your alcohol intake, as it plays a crucial role in altering blood sugar levels. Dr Lathia, says, “During the festive season, it is a dictum to visit family, friends and neighbours. This involves partaking in the sweets and other delicacies prepared by hosts. It’s therefore important that you plan your meals in advance.” She suggests predefining what you will eat and insists that you carry nuts or fruits and even your own packed meals, just in case you won’t have suitable eating options. 

Images: Shutterstock.com


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