The Navratri season is here again. This 9 days festival observes ritualistic Navratri fasts where they refrain from eating non-vegetarian food, cereals, grains, onions, and garlic. However, certain prevailing illness or chronic medical conditions like diabetes, can change up your plans. So, it makes me happy to share some useful tips to manage diabetes effectively during fasting in the festival season.
The people who are suffering from certain conditions are often told not to observe the fast, as it may prove detrimental to your health.
Diabetes is one such tricky condition in which you need to be very conscious about your diet. Top of it, skipping your diabetes medicines without consulting your doctor may further add to the trouble.
How to manage diabetes during fasting
Diabetes management during fasting is like walking a tightrope. You have to be choosy with a diabetes-friendly diet, proper medication, and you cannot give up this important fasting ritual too.
Yet, if you still want to observe the Navratri fasts or any other fasts for that matter, you can plan and prepare yourself in advance to enjoy a safe and successful festival.
Do not starve yourself as that can prove to be detrimental to your diet. Have small amounts of food at regular intervals. Keep yourself hydrated at all times. Below tips will definitely help you to manage diabetes well during fasting.
Pre-Fast Checkup and Counselling
Yes, the most important thing you can do is visiting your doctor for a pre-fast checkup.
Share your plan for fasting, including the number of days, the eating frequency and timing, and what water and snacks you can allow.
Depending on your plan for fasting and the results of your checkup, such as HbA1c and blood glucose levels, your doctor will give you specific advice regarding your medications.
Take the help of your dietitian about your diet plan.
Do not miss your medication
In diabetes management, missing a single dose is dangerous. So, you should never discontinue your diabetes medications for the fear of low blood glucose during fasting without discussing it with your doctor.
If you skip the medications without asking your doctor, there is always a risk of your blood glucose levels becoming too high, which can be harmful to your health.
Surely your doctor would tell you about how frequently you should check your blood glucose levels during fasting. Keeping a glucometer will help you track your blood glucose levels.
If you are on insulin, learn to adjust the insulin doses according to your blood glucose levels as per your doctor’s advice. Be aware of the hypoglycemia symptoms to take quick action to save from bigger trouble.
Pre fast Meals
Consuming a slow-release calorie diet a day or two prior to fasting is important. You should think of including unrefined cereals, pulses and lentils, vegetables, fruits, and limited oil.
Depending on your health and diabetes control, you should think of customized fasting and inclusive of more relaxations.
While many people strictly follow “one meal in a day,” others follow a relatively flexible routine with a few small snacks during the day.
For people with diabetes, it’s always better to have smaller frequent meals every three hours rather than one large, high-calorie meal at the end of the day.
Individuals with diabetes are advised to eat small frequent meals at intervals of approximately 3 h choosing healthier options among the foods allowed during fasting.
Your dietitian will help in customizing your meal patterns like such as the number of meals and the food to be included. Getting adequate nutrition and maintaining steady blood glucose levels is detrimental in managing diabetes during fasting.
For better diabetes management during fasting, a nice portion of cereals that are allowed during festivals should be combined with other foods like vegetables and dietary fibers to reduce their glycemic load.
Many protein sources, like pulses, are restricted during fasting. Still, you can include other sources of proteins, like dairy products, sugar-free shakes, and nuts into your meals.
Fats and Calories
Diet that consisting of fried or oily foods, which can be quite unhealthy and may spike your sugar levels.
Make sure to consume meals with limited oil. Skip deep-frying and try other modes of cooking like boiling, grilling, baking, or steaming the foods.
Often, the meals containing fats, sugars, and calorie-rich foods including fizzy drinks and fruit juices can lead to hyperglycemia and faulty fluctuations in blood glucose levels.
Vitamins and minerals
Whole fruits with pulp, fresh vegetables, and fiber should be chosen instead of concentrated juices, and specifically, green leafy vegetables are low in energy density, low glycemic load, higher fiber, and micronutrient content showing beneficial effects on serum total and LDL cholesterol concentrations.
Fruit chaat, salads, custards, ice creams, shakes, and vegetable lassi containing natural fruit sweetness and vegetables are better options of frequent in-between minor meals than juices and sugary preparations.
The inclusion of fruits and vegetables increases the concentration of plasma carotenoids and Vitamin C to provide antioxidants and phytochemicals.
Water and fluids
Drink enough water during the day. Keep yourself well-hydrated with low-calorie drinks like lassi (buttermilk), lemon water, green tea, and pudina (mint) water to quench thirst.
A desirable intake of about 25 g/1000 kcal or 30–40 g fiber per day should also be maintained in the days of fasting and feasting when the diet pattern and meals bear most of the modifications for adequate blood glucose control.
Herbs and spices
Because of their antioxidant effects and medicinal properties, herbs and spices are often added in different recipes like tea, milk and milk preparations, and other beverages and recipes instead of sugars and other sweeteners to improve the palatability of meals.
Various studies have shown that herbs and spices may have a role in the stimulation of insulin secretion, reduction in insulin resistance, improvement in digestion along with a reduction in blood glucose, and urea.
3 best diabetes and fasting friendly foods
It is an excellent nutrient source with a low GI index too. The grain contains slow-release carbohydrates that help maintain steady blood sugar levels. Kuttu is a rich source of magnesium, manganese, and fibers.
The recipes of Kuttu like Kuttu ki Poori and Kuttu dosa are famous among Indians. It can be an alternative to regular flour.
Singhara (Water Chestnut)
It is a seasonal fruit found from September to December. The flour made of is packed with fiber, which takes a while to breakdown and digest. You can use it in many kitchen preparations.
The fruit also enables the slow release of sugar in the bloodstream, which ensures there are no abnormal blood sugar spikes.
Ragi or Nachni
It is a delicious gluten-free grain that could help check blood sugar spikes due to its high fiber content. Ragi is also abundantly packed with polyphenols and antioxidants.
The low GI index of the pseudo-grain also helps keep cravings in check. You can use ragi in desserts, or make bread out of the flour, etc.
While managing diabetes, it is important to keep your blood glucose level in the normal range, avoiding the ups and downs as much as possible.
Nonetheless, during fasting in festivals, it may become a daunting task to manage sugar levels in rhythm due to fasting and immediate feasting. Ask your family to join you in healthy eating during fasting.
Just make sure to talk to your doctor about your plans for the festival and how best to incorporate it into your diet. If your condition is not so severe, and if your doctor allows you can observe these fasts too albeit with some precautions.
You must read:
- The right time to drink water to stay healthful
- Foods to avoid in diabetes
- Foods to control and prevent diabetes