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Navratri is one of the most important and auspicious Hindu festivals. It is celebrated in the Hindu month of Ashwin after the Mahalaya Amavasya. Navratri will usually span for nine nights, where all nine avatars of Goddess Durga are worshipped with great zeal and enthusiasm. And this festival will kick off today. While many Hindus keep fast during this period, if you’re diabetic, you must keep a few things in mind.
Though there are several benefits of keeping a fast as it allows the digestive system to rest and help the body detoxify, fasting and consuming limited food can trigger serious health issues, especially if the person is diabetic. Dr Manjiri Karlekar, consultant endocrinologist, Zen Multispeciality Hospital, Chembur, Mumbai, tells Healthshots that “fasting means not eating for a specific period of time. If you have diabetes and wish to fast for medical, dietary, or religious reasons then it is imperative for you to speak to a doctor, and only then fast.”
She adds, “People with diabetes may have certain problems while fasting.” Such as:
A condition in which your blood sugar (glucose) level is lower than the normal range.
Too much sugar in the blood as the body lacks enough insulin or insulin is unable to act.
As some people may fast without water intake, this can be problematic.
Do consult an expert before fasting. Doing so will help you in eating and avoiding foods that can lead to various issues like weight gain, acidity, and dehydration.
Maintaining a stable blood sugar level in the acceptable range before fasting helps in easily controlling blood glucose levels during fasting. Whereas uncontrolled blood sugar levels before fasting can lead to problems like hyperglycemia or hypoglycemia.
Check blood sugar levels while fasting (as advised), especially if you are taking insulin. Monitoring blood sugar levels from time to time reduces the risk of both hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia and allows you to control blood sugar levels. Avoid fasting if your blood sugar level has gone down.
Do take medication and insulin. Even if you are fasting, it is imperative to take medication and insulin, avoid skipping them. However, the dose of the drug/insulin may need to be modified. Do so with your doctor’s advice.
Do have smaller meals and don’t go overboard when it comes to eating while fasting. Eat-in a limited proportion and avoid oily food. Try to include healthy options like fruits and curd/chaas.
Eat a healthy meal after breaking the fast. Make sure to include proteins, fibre, and good carbohydrates in the diet to balance the blood sugar levels. Too much intake of carbohydrates can spike blood sugar levels, so be careful. Include foods with a lower glycaemic index. Restrict maida, butter, potato, processed foods after breaking the fast.
It is the need of the hour to have fluids and maintain electrolyte balance when you are fasting to avoid dehydration. Skip sugary drinks and colas.
Do not have too many sweets or fatty foods. Maintain a food diary about what you eat in a day.
Do not skip meals or consume a lot of food after skipping the meal, as doing so can lead to uncontrolled blood sugar.
Don’t take any signs like vomiting, dark urine, a headache, and nausea lightly. These may be signs owing to dehydration.
Be vigilant regarding signs of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) -dizziness, excessive sweating, tremors, confusion can be signs of the same. Seek your doctor’s advice in case you are experiencing these.
If you are fasting then don’t exercise rigorously as doing so can lower the blood sugar levels. Ask your expert about the exercises you can opt for while fasting.
Diabetes care during fasting is similar to walking a tightrope. But being diagnosed with diabetes doesn’t indicate that the person has to give up this essential part of her culture. A person with diabetes can still keep Navratri fasts by proper planning and preparing herself in advance so as to enjoy a safe and flourishing festival.