During any festive season, as in Diwali, while everyone’s merrymaking and pleasing their desire for sweet dishes and other specific food delicacies satisfying their taste buds, people suffering from diabetes have to be extra cautious when it comes to their sweet intake and other high caloric specific food intake. The preparations for one of the most significant festivals in the Hindu calendar are on in full swing, from buying new clothes to purchasing interesting Diwali gifts for friends and family – one can’t help but notice the festive spirit. Sweets play a significant role in almost every festival in India. During Diwali, people indulge in and distribute delicious sweets like Kaju katli, Besan laddoo, Mohanthaal, Coconut laddoo or Dry fruits based mithai along with many Namkeens which has high caloric value are prepared or purchased for consumption and also for serving the visiting well-wishers. Bits and pieces of it now and then lead to intake of high-calorie food which often go unnoticed.
If diabetics have been taking care of their diet and are exercising on a daily basis, then it may be okay for them to indulge in this festive season. The most important thing for a diabetic to do during Diwali time or any other festive season, in general, is to learn and understand to identify carbohydrates which they take, identifying the carbohydrates and reducing its intake would work wonders. Not only that the family member, friends and relatives should also learn to encourage them for controlling their dietary intake, rather than pushing them or insisting them to take or taste the food which they ideally should not eat. Not only that every diabetic, their family members and friends should learn to be aware of the symptoms of hypoglycemia or hyperglycemia, and also measures to handle it considering as emergency without wasting much of time.
On the other hand, there are people who fast during Diwali might experience low blood sugar levels (hypoglycemia) and should be aware of how to handle if such a situation arises.
Diabetes mellitus if not controlled: Diabetes is a disease that is caused either due to inadequate utilization of glucose due to resistance of insulin which is produced in the body or due to a partial or complete absence of secretion of insulin from the pancreas in response to glucose. This leads to an increase in glucose in the blood vessels as glucose is not effectively utilized by the body, which over a period of time leads to hyperglycemia, glucotoxicity and its complications related to Diabetes mellitus if it is not controlled timely and effectively. Long term complications of hyperglycemia silently, affect major organs of our body, like kidneys, eyes, heart, blood vessels and nerves.
Very low levels of blood sugar would lead to symptoms such as rapid heartbeat, blurry vision, dizziness, headache, shaking (tremors), and sweating, which may even lead to convulsion or coma, It is a medical emergency and every diabetic and their keen should be educated and made aware to recognize and treat as emergency.
Artificial or Natural sweetener: It is very common and easy to use available artificial sweetener instead of sugar, and is used routinely. Yes, it does satisfy your craving for sweet taste, but one should always learn to cultivate the taste of things without using such additional stuff so that over a period of time its requirement also would be less. One can take watery fruits in proportions and avoid fruits like mango, custard apple, sapotas, banana, etc.
Proteins and fat (oil): As we said to curtail carbohydrates in our diet, it is advisable to compensate for the reduced carbohydrate with protein intake. For vegetarians, the inclusion of pulses, beans, and soya along with paneer would be the choice and for non-vegetarians, fish and chicken would be an option.
Intake of fat (oil) would also depend on other co-morbidity like high cholesterol, heart disease, etc., where there is imperative to restrict the consumption of overall intake of oil. It is always good to avoid the use of Palmoline oil or trans fat (oil reused several times) and saturated fat like vegetable oils. As for which oil to use saffola, olive, groundnut, or cottonseed does not make any difference, if we reduce the amount and quantity of total consumption of the oil which we use. Usage of few walnuts and almond which gives you monounsaturated fat (MUFA), is advisable to be taken for keeping a healthy lipid profile.
Exercise: Exercise is a key along with diet control for better control of blood sugar, and one has to do it religiously on regular basis as advised by their doctor, It has been observed that during Diwali, as it is vacation time, relaxation time, one tend to be avoiding the routine, becomes lazy to do exercise but it is very much essential to continue exercise during this period.
Not to forget Medication and Injections: It is as essential not to forget the medicine and injections which are ongoing, and take as per regular time without missing any dosage, Not only that while travelling one should not forget to take adequate stock of the required medications. One must also check the stock of the entire medication and maintain it during this holiday period because most of the nearby medicine outlets may be closed.
Avoid burns or injuries: One must take utmost care and prevent burns from firecrackers, as a patient with diabetic foot or neuropathy have less sensitive or insensitive skin so there is no pain sensation and it might go unnoticed, so always essential to be careful.
Few tips for healthy fasting for diabetics
- Have slow absorbing foods (which have a low glycemic index, i.e. complex carbohydrate) before you begin the fast. Choosing these types of foods will keep you filled up and keeps your blood glucose levels to rise gradually even during the fast. Fruits, vegetables, and salad can also be included
- Medicine timing also needs to be changed accordingly and so is true to insulin injections too
- If you take insulin, you may have to adjust the dose of insulin as the requirement of insulin may reduce due to less caloric intake. Your doctor will guide you for that
- Be aware of symptoms related to low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), act accordingly if it occurs
- 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
- Don’t leave your stomach empty for more than 2 hours at a stretch. Do take permissible liquids or food in between
- Consume adequate water to keep the required hydration
It’s always good to be aware and educated about our health and always better to prevent my making a smart choice to keep ourselves healthy. A little mindfulness can keep your Diwali spirits up without feeling like you’re missing out. So here’s wishing you a fabulous and festive “safe” Diwali and happy and prosperous new year.