Navratri is one of the most common religious fast observed among Hindus. A large number of people with diabetes follow fast during navratris, irrespective of its health implications, often without proper knowledge and medical advices. There is lack of awareness and misconceptions about their concepts and attitudes towards diabetes, its complications, diet, exercise, drug therapy, understanding about insulin, and treatment among people and as well their family members. Efforts are made to provide pragmatic dietary advice for people with diabetes by modifying in the menus and cooking practices and timings of the meals for successful blood glucose management during navratris.
A sudden change in dietary habits can have harmful effects on blood sugar level. On one hand it may lead to episodes of hypoglycemia or result into postprandial hyperglycemia, ketoacidosis, and loss of body fluids, electrolyte imbalance and other metabolic complications on the other hand. To prepare for fasting period, the prefast meal (usually a day or two before fasting) should comprise “slow –release” calories by including complex and non digestive carbohydrates with low glycemic index, proteins, and moderate amounts of fats. It should be a well balanced diet providing unprocessed and unrefined cereals, pulses and lentils, vegetables, fruits, limited oils, and nuts to reduce its glycemic index and retain energy availability for a longer period.
People are allowed to take small frequent meals at the intervals of approximately 3 hour choosing healthier option among the foods allowed during fasting instead of large meals usually consumed at the end of fasting (while breaking a fast) often containing high carbohydrates, fats, sugars and calorie rich foods including fizzy drinks and fruit juices which can lead to hyperglycemia and faulty fluctuations in blood sugar levels. Breaking of fast can be followed by small frequent meals, snacks or beverages prepared from the food products which are allowed during fasting.
The planning of menu for such days is a laborious task for people with diabetes and hence I am here by providing a sample menu for diabetics during navratris.
Skimmed milk/tea/coffee /Amaranth porridge / waterchest flour (singhare ka atta) uttapam/dosa / 3-4 almonds or walnut.
Green tea / lemon water with fruits.
Kuttu spinach chapatti with vegetable preparation, salad and curd /baked vegetable sabudana tikkis with cucumber raita / samak rice with mixed vegetable raita and salad.
Baked chips/lassie/vegetable soup/roasted makhana.
Paneer vegetable tikka with salad/milk with fruits/ a bowl of cooked vegetables and salad/apple or pumpkin kheer without sugar.
To summarize, no religion makes it mandatory for the vulnerable group to fast. However, for persons with well controlled diabetes, who do not wish for exemption from the religious and cultural values of the society, fasts can be managed with proper dietary advices and adequate lifestyle practices by consulting a physician and dietitian.