India is a land of festivals. With the festivities around, everyone in the family prepares to indulge when it comes to food. On the other hand, people living with diabetes usually are the ones fretting over missing out on their favourite dishes during these times. Sadly, for such people, the pursuit of diabetes management on such festive occasions contributes in addition to stress and the feeling of being left out. A balanced approach to meal management as per your doctor’s advice is the key to avoid stress and enjoying festival times to the most. In addition to this, monitoring glucose levels at different instances like before and after meals is also crucial.
Recently, I attended a Facebook session where a doctor and nutritionist spoke about effective diabetes management. My takeaway has been 8 easy-to-follow meal planning tips for people living with diabetes to enjoy festivities with family & friends to the fullest:
List of Contents
#1 Eat what you crave for but in moderation:
Craving your favourite sweet on special occasions is natural. While indulging in heavy feasting is a strict no-no, a small helping of your favourite food can broaden your smile. Now, this is not a mantra that only people with diabetes have to follow. Most fitness freaks practice the same. However, before you start to enjoy your favourite dish it is highly advisable that you keep track of your glucose levels. For the same, using a Continuous Glucose Monitoring device helps. It is easy to use and CGM devices like FreeStyle Libre (that my mother-in-law uses) can track as many readings per day as you want, giving you a clearer picture of your high & low glucose levels at different points in time.
#2 When Eating Out, be Thoughtful
The onset of festivals and the year-end celebrations amount to home parties, visiting family and friends or eating out in restaurants. As you head out for festive lunches or dinners, food options
available might or might not be diabetes-friendly. While in restaurants the decision to choose dishes is in your hand, parties on the contrary have an indulgent spread. At such times, the best way is to select fibre-rich food and less of deep-fried food items. For instance, steamed dumplings are better than fried dumplings. Exercise portion control while enjoying all the courses of meals during the outing so that you do not cross the total calories of the day. Also, carry along your before-meal diabetes medication to wherever you are heading to. It is advisable to eat at the same time as you do it on rest of the days. A longer time gap between medication and meal can cause a sudden drop in glucose levels which can be risky.
#3 Choose Low-Fat, Dishes that have Natural Sugar
Thanks to the awareness pertaining to diabetes nowadays many restaurants have diabetes friendly food options. This holds true for desserts as well. However, one can understand that not all places will have such food options, in that case, go for less sugary and maybe baked snacks and desserts. For instance, instead of syrupy jalebis or rasgullas, one can go for natural-sugar-based desserts. Festival Meal Planning Tips for People with Diabetes here will be to avoid food that causes a sudden spike in your glucose levels. How can you know which food causes an increase in glucose level? It can simply be done by using a Continuous Glucose Monitoring device which shows trends in level at different times during the day.
#4 Eat Carbs but Minimum
For a balanced meal, including carbohydrates is important. Having said this, carbohydrates have the maximum impact on glucose levels. So for people with diabetes, the right choice is choosing to eat a carbohydrate that is less processed and has more fibre content like brown rice, oatmeal, whole-wheat bread and more. Intake of food made with refined carbohydrates should be minimized.
#5 One Drink for the Sake of Health
Keeping oneself hydrated is the thumb rule for maintaining a better glucose level. But while enjoying the festivities avoid having sugary drinks or factory-processed juices. Alcoholic beverages are anyways harmful so it is best to avoid consumption. One can instead opt for naturally sweet juices that have zero added sugar or sugar-free lime water and soda. As a matter of fact, I am a big advocate of carrying a bottle of water from home. Even my mother-in-law who has diabetes does that. This way one not only stays hydrated at all times but also contributes to lesser use of plastic bottles!
#6 Plan, Implement & Enjoy
During festival time, as a general practice, one shouldn’t go all out and be careless. In the sense that all one does is hog food, enjoy drinks and be merry. Instead, all, and especially people with diabetes should start the day with a little exercise. There shouldn’t be long time gaps between the main meals of the day. Before the actual celebrations, eat a low-carbohydrate, high-in fibre snack like nuts, popcorn etc. This ensures that you don’t overeat because of being hungry for long.
Another thumb rule for people with diabetes is never to skip meals as it adversely affects glucose levels.
Implementing the above-mentioned festival meal planning tips for people with diabetes is the key to enjoying with family & friends.
#7 Monitor Glucose Levels and Live Fully During Festive Times
A while ago, I introduced my mother-in-law to a Continuous Glucose Monitoring device and the pain-less monitoring process. It is such a smart and user-friendly wearable glucose monitoring device. By monitoring glucose levels using this CGM device she is able to find those sweet spots when her glucose level is in a healthy range. It’s fun to watch her enjoy a bit of her favourite sweet without any tension. All thanks to the CGM device.
Further, she keeps a track of her own glucose level trends and adjusts her meals accordingly. This way she ensures that she stays in the optimal glucose range for most parts of the day while enjoying the festivities. By Continuous Glucose Monitoring device she notes the impact of any food she eats, as well as the effects of bhaag–daud (physical activity) she does while looking after the preparations during any festival. Truly, she does manage diabetes better during festivals.
#8 Best advice comes from the Doctor
I always advocate that when it comes to health, the best advice that can be given is from the doctor’s end. People with diabetes can manage it better if proper glucose monitoring is followed by a doctor’s consultation before the festivities begin and maybe after as well.
Careful monitoring and being mindful of what you eat can help maintain glucose levels even as you celebrate your life each day to the fullest. So do try out the Continuous Glucose Monitoring device!
Know more about Continuous Glucose Monitoring here.
You can buy Freestyle Libre here.
The information mentioned in this document is only suggestive/for patient education and shall not be considered as a substitute for doctor’s advice or recommendations from Abbott. Please consult your doctor for more information
Any photos displayed are for illustrative purposes only. Any person depicted in such photos is a model.
This is a very useful article. Thanks for sharing ??
You have said eating in moderation. I think moderation is the key for diabetes and life in general. When you know when to stop you are in control. I feel very sad when I see diabetics binge eating and saying I will take a pill. Your blog is very informative, indeed.
Quite true; For people living with diabetes its management on such festive occasions is really difficlut. bUt the tips you have suggested to overcome this difficult are quite doable. sharing it with my MIL
Thank you for these useful tips. Most of these are good practices that anyone can follow.
Diabetes is a huge problem and it is crucial to maintain it well and regularly. These tips are so good and important. Thanks for sharing this article and talking about it.
Diabetes Management can be hard during the festival times so I must say your tips are good enough.
As a regiver to a Diabetes patients I so relate to these tips you have shared, these are really helpful and would surely try to incorporate the ones I am missing on. Also, CGM really makes a difference and helps a lot in monitoring.
I feel festivals are the most challenging times for diabetics. The tips you have mentioned are really helpful. Of course moderation is the key and one should never ‘drink’ their calories.
Being a caregiver I can understand how important it is to take care of food which we cook during festivals, Thanks for sharing these tips!!
To control diabetes it is very important to monitor and follow right and balanced diet which is suggested by doctors.
Festive meal planning is not only exhaustive for the person who cooks but the craving in mind makes people with diabetes exhausted too. But making sure that everything is on limits definitely helps them. The device looks promising
I completely agree with all your points. Diabetes can be controlled with proper thoughtful meal choices but the most important aspect is proper monitoring and consultation.
I totally agree with the points you have mentioned. People with high sugar levels need to plan their festive meals well and you have provided the perfect guide to them.
We just had a lohri function at home and sweets were flowing like anything. My dad, was on no-sugar but somehow a few sweets ended up in his system making him high on sugar. Wish I had known this earlier. Sharing this with Dad, right away.
yes, festival is the time to take extra care for diabetes patients as there are plenty of high calorie food available all around. your post content so much valuable information. will help diabetic patients a lot to eat in moderation and stay healthy during festival season.
Portion control is always better than avoiding. I love how you have planned it out to make sure the person is not feeling deprived of anything but still keeps mindful eating.
These are such useful tips you have shared. Festival time diet gets difficult for anyone with diabetes. It is also difficult to fast during festivals for them as diabteic patients need to eat frequently every 2-3 hours. Thaks for sharing this meal plan.
Careful monitoring can help in managing diabetes
Meal planning tips are a must for patients
Great and insight article
CGM devices are the best monitoring devices
Your article is filled with good information for the patients and the caregivers.
Thanks for such an insightful article.
Even my grandpa is also using CGM and he is loving it!
As you mentioned portion control is really important. Especially during festivals.
Minimising what we eat and not restricting- very insightful.
Eating mindfully has been helping me too.
Moderation is definitely key. We needn’t restrict ourselves.
Hydration is so underrated! Glad you mentioned that.
CGM gives great freedom to all patients.
Eating junk food is not a crime, it can be consumed once in a while.
Chronic diabetes patients should always follow a strict diet chat.
Our ancestors and ancient medicine correctly opine that meals should be taken on time.
Living fully with diabetes has been possible with Freestyle Libre
This session has many important takeaways for diabetics
Controlling your portions and then eating your favourite sweet is not so harmful
Eating everything in moderation definitely helps a diabetic
I like to track the nutrients of the foods I am eating
One can ask the doctor about which foods are good for diabetic people.
Meal planning helps you choose and stock healthier food options.
Eat in moderation and on time and you will be sorted