Navaratri is a widely celebrated festival among India. It is one of the most common religious fast observed to honour devotion towards Goddess Durga. Apart from its religious aspect, scientifically fasting offers physiological rest to our digestive system, helps to purify the body by flushing out excess toxins, improves digestion, immunity and metabolism. It also supports longevity, mental and emotional health of a person.
But, what about those who are living with diabetes, can they observe fasting, irrespective of their health implications? As the festival is here, this question often comes in the mind of every diabetic.
Well, fasting is a personal choice and there is no hard and fast rule that diabetics cannot fast. However, if you really wish to go for fasting, it often can be managed with the proper medical and dietary advice along with adequate lifestyle practices. Here are a few handy tips for safe and healthy fasting for diabetics.
Check with your healthcare provider whether you qualify for fasting or not?
If you are planning for fasting, the first and foremost step is to consult your Diabetes Care Team to prevent any medical complications and to maintain good blood sugar control. Get complete medical evaluation done to know if you are fit for fast. However, people with certain medical conditions should avoid fasting such as type 1 diabetics, had recent hospitalisation, have history of diabetes ketoacidosis or uncontrolled diabetes, have history of recurrent hypoglycaemia, pregnant or elderly population or anyone with diabetes complication of eyes, kidney, heart, nerves or any other organ.
Talk to your Diabetes Care Team about fasting Do’s and Don’ts
Discuss your meal, medication and exercise modifications in detail with your care team. Also, ask about safety tips and necessary precautions before, during and after fasting. Discuss how to handle any health emergency during fasting like hypoglycaemia (low blood sugars), hyperglycaemia (high blood sugars), BP fluctuations, dehydration, dizziness, weakness etc. And, when to discontinue the fast in case of any health emergency.
Follow your usual checking and medication routine
Take your medications or insulin on prescribed time. However, modification in your doses need to be discussed with your doctor before observing fast. Also, check your blood sugars at regular intervals, at least 2-3 times/day or more if needed. Record your values in a log-book and report any highs or lows to your diabetes care team immediately. If you feel any symptoms like dizziness, shaking, sweating etc. then check your blood sugars. If it is <70 mg/dl then treat immediately with simple and quick acting carbs like juice, sugar or glucose.
Make modifications in your exercise routine during fasting
Modifying the daily exercise routine is necessary especially for type 2 diabetics when they observe fast. Avoid very strenuous or high impact activities during fasting to prevent lows and sudden spikes. However, exercise can be done after 2-3 hours of having major meal instead of performing it on empty stomach or after long gap between the meals.
Keep yourself hydrated
Having liquids throughout the day helps to avoid dehydration. Drinking fluids throughout the day can help you detoxify, maintain optimum body temperature, balance electrolytes and reenergize. Do not consume caffeinated beverages such as it may cause further dehydration.
Eat a healthy and balanced diet even during fasting
A balanced meal consists of complex and high fibre carbohydrates (carbs), proteins, and moderate amount of fats along with essential vitamins and minerals. You can combine carbs with veggies, salad and protein to get more fibre, vital nutrients and to maintain optimum blood glucose levels. To limit fat intake, the preferable methods of cooking are grilling, boiling, steaming, toasting, baking, microwave or non-stick cooking over oily or fried preparations.
During fasting, people with diabetes are advised to follow usual small and frequent eating pattern after every 3 hours instead of the large meals usually taken at the end of fasting. Choose healthier options among the foods allowed during fasting rather than taking food high in carbohydrates, fats, sugars or calories including fizzy drinks and fruit juices which can lead to hyperglycaemia and faulty fluctuations in blood glucose levels.
A healthy meal and snack options during Navratri fast are given below:
Disclaimer: The information given above is generic in nature. If you are a diabetic and wish to observe fast, talk to your diabetes care team whether fasting is safe for you or not? Also, discuss personalised guidelines according to your medical history and health condition/s.