9 Oct 2018 | 6 min Read
Dr. Megha Gupta
Author | 2 Articles
India has a variety of cultures and religions, following vast number of festivals and rituals. Navratra is one of the most common fasts observed among Hindus in India and Nepal according to regional traditions. Navratra is a nine day festival traditionally associated with goddess Durga and worshipping her nine incarnations, celebrated in different forms by Hindus. Fasting during Navratra is a common practice across all regions, believed to be associated with spiritual well being. Navratra is celebrated with lot of enthusiasm and excitement all across the country in all regions.
While some people strictly believe in holding fast for nine days, many people fast only on the first and last days. There are different fasting patterns which people follow, some do not eat salt and stay on fruits for all 9 days, some take salt once in a day and some of them do not restrict salt at all.
Diabetic patients may face challenges associated with blood glucose control during the festivals of Navratri. Fasting alternating with binge eating can result in severe metabolic alterations, further complicating diabetes management . Dietary management is central to ensure adequate glycemic control during Navratra. Fasting and dietary changes should be avoided in patients with poorly controlled diabetes or with multiple complications. Diabetic patients who are on multiple insulin injections, with other comorbidites, but having a good control of blood glucose can fast, if they wish to.
However, all diabetic patients who are fasting need to be more careful about their meal timings and should choose the food carefully.
Here are a few tips for healthy fasting for diabetics:
• Small frequent meals still remains the key: A common saying “Too much of anything is bad” holds true for diabetics in this case. So being a diabetic you should avoid both over indulgence in festive food as well as fasting. Do not take long breaks in fasts; it is important that you should eat something every few (2-3) hours. This will help you to maintain your glucose levels well and managing fluctuations.
• Take your meals on time: Try to follow the meal pattern and timings as on other days. For example, take breakfast on time (preferably between 8-9am), lunch between 1-2pm and dinner between 8-9pm. Do not forget the mid meal snacks.
• People who follow fruits only fast pattern can take 200-250gms of fruits three times in a day and they can include one banana along with other fruits like apple, pear, guava, sweet lime, peaches, pomegranate, papaya, watermelon, etc. They can also take handful of dry fruits (like almonds, walnuts, pistachios, figs), peanuts, roasted makhana, or fluids like Chaach, coconut water, tea or coffee as mid meal snacks in between. Avoid taking fruit juice; eat the whole fruit instead.
• Those who consume salt only at one time during the day, can take paneer, sweet potato chaat, handful of dry fruits, makahana with milk(low fat), pumpkin kheer (without sugar), apple kheer (without sugar). One can also take milk or curd smoothies made with fruits or cucumber.
• Most commomnly, people consume different cereals during Navratra fasting. This includes kuttu ka atta (Buckwheat flour), singhade ka atta (Waterchestnut Flour), samak chawal (Fasting Rice), Saboodana (Sago) etc. These can be taken in any of the major meals timings like morning, afternoon and evening. Various meal options include khichdi, crepes (Cheela), or boiled rice with vegetables like lauki/ pumpkin. Avoid consuming fried food like poori and deep fried cutlets.
Also avoid preparations that are made only using potatoes.
• Preferable methods of cooking are boiling, steaming, roasting, baking, and air frying etc. over the oily and fried preparations.
• Drink milk (low fat) or have curd, cottage cheese (Paneer). They are your best buddies- take them at periodic intervals as they are high in protein and help in maintaining blood sugar levels. Curd or milk smoothies with fruits also can be a good option.
• Don’t forget fruits. As they are high in fiber, you can take various fruits like apple, pear, guava, sweet lime, peaches, and pomegranate. Avoid taking juices as it can lead to hyperglycemia and faulty fluctuations in blood glucose levels.
• Prefer sweet potato over normal potato as they give you satiety and required energy. Also it has more fiber than the normal potato.
• Drink plenty of fluids throughout the day in form of water and other fluids like chaach, salty lemonade, and coconut water. Avoid taking too much of tea and coffee as it can cause dehydration.
• Most important don’t forget to take your medicines or insulin on time.
• Last but not the least, keep on checking your sugar levels regularly during fast.
No religion makes it mandatory for the vulnerable group to fast. However, patients with well controlled diabetes can manage fasts with the proper dietary advice and adequate lifestyle practices. Consult your endocrinologist, physician or diabetes educator before fasting to prevent any medical complications and improve glycemic management.
Some Healthy Navratra Meal Suggestions for Diabetics
• Kuttu and Singhada atta Cheela with paneer (low fat)/Ghia/Raddish Stuffing + Coriander
• Kuttu Uttapam + Cucumber Raita
• Samak Chawal + Ghia+ Pumpkin Khichri + Pineapple Curd
• Milk(Low fat) + Chaulai (Amaranth)/Makhana/Handful of dry fruits (Almonds/Walnuts/
• Singhada/Kuttu atta Parantha (low fat) + Ghia sabzi/pumpkin sabzi/Paneer (low fat) sabzi
• Banana walnut Lassi
• Fruits Shakes/Smoothies (Apple/Cucumber/strawberry/cranberry)
• Saboodana (Sago) + Samak chawal (Fasting Rice) khichri + Apple + Pineapple Curd + Cucumber
• Masala arbi + Cucumber/ Carrot raita
NOTE: Try to add more and more of fiber in your meals through salads, fruits. It helps you to give
satiety as well as it helps to control your blood glucose levels and fluctuations.
• Roasted Makhana/ Handful of Dry fruits/ Handful of Roasted peanuts.
• Sabudana (Sago) Cutlets (low fat) can be prepared in air fryer.
• Sweet potato kheer/ carrot kheer/pumpkin kheer.
• Apple and Pineapple smoothie with curd
• Stewed Apple
• Sweet potato chaat
• Fruits chaat
• Kuttu + singhada atta instant dhokla + coriander chutney/Curd
• Beverages- Chaach, Shikanji (lemonade) without sugar, coconut water, green tea, soups