One of the most important fasts of India includes Karwa Chauth. It is a day-long fast observed by the women for their husband’s long life and well-being. This 12-15 hour long fast ends only when the moon rises, usually without even consuming water. Some may claim it to be a good detoxification strategy, but doctors warn diabetic women because such long hours of fasting may lead to hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). Additionally, prolonged lack of water intake may cause dehydration, dyselectrolytemia (imbalance in the required amount of electrolytes which are calcium, potassium, sodium, magnesium in the blood) and hypotension. Does that mean karwa chauth fasting is not good for diabetics? Let’s find out!
Research has shown that intermittent fasting benefits in maintaining glucose balance in the body, improves insulin resistance, has cardioprotective effects and aids in weight loss. Karwa chauth fast can be considered one such type of fast.
However, a sudden change in dietary patterns may cause harmful effects in blood sugar levels, causing other complications. A patient may go into hypoglycemia or hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) and those diabetic women who have macrovascular or microvascular complications may go into diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). It is a serious diabetes complication where the body produces excess blood acids (ketones).
Elderly and co-morbid patients should keep very good care of themselves as they are prone to complications.
A Karwa Chauth fast for diabetic women is safe only when observed with some caution in which the main is the pre-dawn meal (sargi). This should include nutrient-dense foods to keep a day long sustenance which should be a combination of complex carbohydrates, fibre and protein. Select the foods that have a low glycemic index. Slow digesting foods will keep them fuller for longer hours and maintain optimum sugar levels.
During the fast, keep a check on your blood sugar levels. Monitoring it from time-to-time can help you to reduce the risk of both high blood sugar level or low blood sugar level. Keep religious aspects aside and break your fast if your blood sugar level has gone down.
Ladies on insulin or hypoglycaemic drugs should consult their doctors about the medicine. Remember, you cannot compromise with your medicine no matter what. So, make sure you consume all your medicine on time and avoid skipping them.
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If a complication occurs, fast should be broken immediately and medical help should be taken. So, if you are experiencing any symptoms during the fasting such as vomiting, headache, nausea and dark urine, you should avoid fasting. Researchers suggest breaking the fast immediately if sugar levels are lower than 70 mg/dL or more than 300 mg/dL.
Make sure to open the fast with light food, beginning with some hydrating drink such as coconut water. Opening the fast with calorie and fat laden foods may further shoot the sugar levels. So, sweets and fried foods should be a big no.
Some guidelines may benefit the diabetic women keeping Karwa Chauth fast. They should visit their respective endocrinologist for pre-fast counselling and also learn about the warning signs of hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia.
Fasting has utmost importance in Indian culture but performing it in a healthy and planned manner specially by diabetic women can make it more beneficial. So, all the precautions are very important before performing this fast. Also remember that nothing is more important than your health. So if your health is not allowing you to fast, don’t push your body.