Tips for diabetic patients to remember for celebrating a healthy Diwali

Dr Pradeep Gadge, Chief Diabetologist, Gadge Diabetes Centre, shares how a diabetic patient can control and enjoy the festivities without missing out on the fun and sweets


The festival of Diwali, also known as the Festival of Lights, is a five-day festival celebrating the triumph of good over evil. In Hindu Culture, the Diabetes mellitus is well known; it also has found its place in the Ayurvedic texts several centuries BC.

It is divided into a fatal condition of childhood (type-1 diabetes), and condition of affluence and obesity in middle age (type-2 diabetes).

Physicians recognised the sweetness of diabetic urine by observing its attraction for ants; diabetes was, therefore, known as ‘Madhumeha’ or honeyed urine.

For diabetic people, Diwali can feel like a daunting prospect because eating sweets, is a traditional way of celebrating and the high sugar and fat content can affect blood glucose levels and weight management.

To reduce their calorie intake, sometimes people try to eat less during the day before a party, but it can be a poor strategy because then they arrive hungry at the party, and tend to over-eat.

It is recommended that patients try eating a consistent healthy meal throughout the day and even consider a small, healthy, low-fat snack before the festivities, this way, they can have the small portion of the rich traditional foods and are less likely to overindulge.

Music and dance are huge during Diwali, and dancing is another way to incorporate more activity into your holiday celebrations, while still partaking in the holiday spirit.

Therefore, while planning your gathering, make sure people have room to move around and dance off some calories. Make sure to have your blood tested before and after Diwali so that you can control it immediately. Exercise is crucial if you plan to indulge a little, so do not skip that workout no matter how light or heavy it is.

For patients:

  • The key to control diabetes is to remember and religiously follow the cardinal rules of the diet.
  • Avoid anything that contains refined flour (maida) and sugar.
  • Consider making home-made sweets. Apart from reviving the traditional way of celebration, you will be able to control your sugar intake in a better way, and even go sugar-free.
  • A smart way to reduce portion size would be to eat in groups and sharing it with your friends. Sharing means you take a smaller portion size. Make smaller sizes of sweets and other delicacies and in smaller quantities. The more you make, the more you will be tempted to indulge.
  • If you have a blood testing monitor, don’t forget to test your blood glucose levels more during the festivities and before every meal to make sure they don’t get too high.

Increase physical activity: Opt for stairs instead of the elevator, take a walk to their friend’s place and involve them in Diwali preparations. These everyday, activities help to burn excess calories.

Limit alcohol: Alcohol interferes with the body’s ability to break down carbohydrate which can cause hypoglycaemia in diabetics. It not only blocks the generation of sugar within the body, when it is most needed, but also masks the critical symptoms of hypoglycaemia such like hunger, palpitation, and sweating.

Do not stay up till late hours: Although the festive season calls for late night gatherings and fun-filled times with friends and relatives, avoid staying up late as it could interfere with metabolism. Make sure to get good 6-7 hours of sleep so that you can continue with the festivities.

Prepare them for the evening: Along with making sweets and other food items with artificial sweeteners, one can prepare the body for the evening. Add food with low or minimum calories from the morning so that their body can easily digest one or two sweets that they cannot avoid.

Diwali brings family and food together and is a significant part of the cultural life, so just because you have diabetes, it doesn’t mean you should miss out.