World Diabetes Day: How To Celebrate A 'Cheenikam Diwali'
India is a land of festivals, and it's time for the biggest Indian festival – Diwali. It's been a very tough year for all of us, but we have learnt some important life lessons. Health of our family has become our top priority now and is no more optional. However, with the festival around, we might go overboard on sweets and feasts. Overdosing on mithais can prove harmful especially for those suffering from erratic blood glucose levels-diabetes, high blood pressure and cardiac disorders.
With Diwali and World Diabetes Day falling on the same dates this year i.e. 14th November, let us all pledge to take care of our loved ones and celebrate a “chinikam” Diwali.
India has an estimated 77 million people with diabetes, which makes it the second most affected in the world succeeding China. Over the last three decades, the prevalence has increased three folds and the number is projected to be 134 million by 2045 as per the International Diabetes Federation (IDF). Further, India is also home to the second highest number of children with type 1 diabetes after the United States. However, according to the WHO, 80% of Diabetes can be prevented by developing healthy eating habits, staying physically active and avoiding tobacco.
It is very important for the diabetics to be mindful of their diets and physical activity regimes. Fasting and feasting both can prove dangerous. We should learn to listen to our bodies and be aware of the symptoms.
Simple yet effective ways to manage blood sugar fluctuations during festivals:
• Uniformly distribute the intake of carbohydrates over the meals. Have regular meals with fixed meal timings, don’t skip meals.
• Most important is to keep a watch on the portion sizes of the foods in your Thali at each meal. If you take care of the portions your nutritional needs i.ePoshan will be met.
• Have a combination of low and high Glycemic Index (GI) foods. This lowers the overall GI of a meal. For eg. add veggies to upma, poha, rice, parathas; add different dals to rice based recipes like khichadi, pongal, bisibele rice, pulao, dhokla, dosa.
• Minimize use of processed foods, avoid refined flours.Prefer whole grains and millets. Add flaxseeds and fenugreek seeds powder to your chapatis. Go for unpolished rice / brown rice. These increase the fiber content of your meal which help in slow stomach emptying and delay the transit of food in the intestines, inturn there is reduction in the rate of absorption of glucose and it lowers blood sugar rise.
• Compensate for the reduced carbohydrate with protein intake. Include pulses, beans, soya, paneer, fish and chicken as healthy options.
• Bake goodies at home rather than purchasing from the market. This will help cut down not only on sugars but also hydrogenated oil / dalda / vanapati oil and reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
• Try orange oats rabdi, apple pancakes, lauki halwa, apple kheer, dates and nuts roll, anjeer roll, besan / ragi laddus in place of jalebis and rabdi. Replace refined sugars with honey, dates and figs. Add cinnamon, cardamom, saffron, nutmeg and fruit concentrates to perk up the sweetness of your sweets.
• Don’t gorge on the large box of chocolates all at once!Take a piece and share the rest. In this way you will share the calories as well.Opt for high-quality dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate as it contains less sugar.
• Drink plenty of water to keep you feel full so that you do not eat more of unhealthy food. It also helps to cleanse your gut.Avoid sugary drinks, colas and canned juices. Choose water, sugar free nimbupanior coconut water.
• Go slow on alcohol as it contains a large quantity of sugar and can increase blood sugar levels dramatically.
• Stay active. Continue doing your household chores, go for a walk with your family and don’t laze around just because it’s festival time.
• Keep reminders. Do not forget to monitor your blood sugar levels and always take your medications on time.
Such little mindfulness can keep your health as well as your Diwali spirits high. So, here’s wishing you a very Healthy and Happy Diwali. Enjoy your time with loved ones doing all that you love the most.
(The author is a nutrition expert with Arogya World's MyThali program)