You've been fasting for Navratri for most of your life, but certain health conditions, especially diabetes, can change up your plans. Diabetes management during fasting is like walking a tightrope, given the nature of the fast and the food items allowed during this period. Skipping your diabetes medicines without consulting your doctor may further add to the trouble.
Diabetes doesn't mean, however, you have to give up this important part of your culture. 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. Just make sure to talk to your doctor about your plans for the festival and how best to incorporate it into your diet.
How Navratri Can Cause Diabetes Trouble
The ultimate objective of diabetes management is to keep your blood glucose level in the normal range, avoiding the ups and downs as much as possible. This task becomes trickier when fasting is followed by feasting during Navratri.
Fortunately, your doctor can help you navigate the celebrations while staying healthy.
Pre-Fast Checkup and Counselling
A regular checkup with the doctor is always important for people with diabetes, but a prefast appointment is an absolute must for effective diabetes management during your fast.
Talk to your doctor about your plan for fasting, including the number of days, your eating frequency and timing, and what water and snacks you can allow. 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 detrimental for your health. 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.
Keep Track of Your Counts
Ask your doctor about how frequently should you check your blood glucose levels during fasting. Keeping a home glucose monitoring system will help you track your blood glucose levels. If you take insulin, learn to adjust the insulin doses according to your blood glucose levels as per your doctors advice.
If you or any of your family members have diabetes, ask your doctor how you can identify the red flags for any upcoming health problems — like low or high blood glucose levels — during fasting. Quick action can save you from bigger trouble.
Prepare for the fasting period by consuming slow-release calories a day or two prior to fasting. These balanced meals should include unrefined cereals, pulses and lentils, vegetables, fruits and limited oil. Keep yourself well hydrated, especially if you are going to restrict your water intake during the fasting period.
Fasting doesn't have to mean what you think it means — a successful fast is all about being open to change. That's easier now since the idea of fasting has evolved over the years depending on factors like your region, time of the year and health concerns. Most fasts have relaxations to make them more inclusive, too.
Ask your doctor or a dietician to plan your meals for the fasting period. 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. It is best that you explain your fasting beliefs, such as the number of meals allowed and the restriction of cereals and water, to your dietician. Accordingly, your dietician can give you a meal plan that provides adequate nutrition while maintaining steady blood glucose levels.
Your body needs its share of carbohydrates, as they are an important source of energy. Thus, for better diabetes management, a nice portion of cereals that are allowed during Navratri should be combined with other foods like vegetables and dietary fibres to reduce their glycemic load.
Many protein sources, like dals, 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
Most of the Navratri thalis consist of fried or oily foods, which can be quite unhealthy. Make sure to develop your own version of a Navratri thali with limited oil. Skip deep frying and try other modes of cooking like boiling, grilling, baking or steaming the foods.
Also, keep yourself well-hydrated with low-calorie drinks like lassi (buttermilk), lemon water, green tea and pudina (mint) water.
Take Support From Your Family
Navratri delicacies like nariyal ladoo (coconut sweets) can tempt you on the dining table. Ask your family to join you in healthy eating during fasting. Eating healthy foods as a unit helps to reduce cravings.
Making diabetes management simpler while fasting during Navratri is all about being flexible. You know the signs of high and low blood glucose levels, so take a water and a snack if you need it.Consult your doctor if required. Avoid temptations and look for healthy alternatives. With the right attitude and planning, diabetes won't keep you from the festivities. You can still participate in the spirit of celebration and not be held back.
Disclaimer: This publication/editorial/article is meant for awareness/educational purposes and does not constitute or imply an endorsement, sponsorship, or recommendation of any Products. Please consult your doctor/healthcare practitioner before starting any diet, medication, or exercise.