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A Giant Leap for People
with Diabetes 

Understanding and Challenging
Diabetes Stigma

Type 2 Diabetes During Diwali: Top Tips and Advice

Disclaimer: The information provided is not intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment. Please consult your healthcare professional about your diabetes management. Individual symptoms, situations and circumstances may vary.

Approved on 08/11/2021

Abbott has partnered with leading diabetes healthcare professionals: GP with extended role in diabetes, Dr Waqas Tahir, and award-winning dietitian and nutritionist, Azmina Govindji, to develop the following simple and actionable lifestyle, clinical and dietary advice to support people with Type 2 diabetes celebrating Diwali.

1.  Celebrate your cuisine:

  • Food is an integral part of South Asian culture and there is no reason why you should deny yourselves your favourite foods to be healthy
  • Traditional South Asian cuisine of beans, dahls, chapati and vegetables can be very nutritious – you just need to be mindful of cooking methods and portion sizes
  • There are ways to make meals festive and delicious by using healthier fats and colourful ingredients

2.  Some super swaps to help keep food healthy, but tasty:

  • Brown basmati rice instead of white rice (if you want to meet in the middle, you could use brown jeera rice as a side dish and keep to white rice for richer meals like pilau and biryani)
  • Coarse wholegrain atta instead of white atta
  • Unsaturated oils – such as rapeseed, corn or sunflower oil – instead of ghee and coconut oil
  • Dried fruits – such as apricots, dates and figs – instead of sweets and mithai (you can get lower sugar mithai in selected Asian stores)
  • Water or sugar-free soft drinks instead of sugar-sweetened drinks
  • Clever sweet carbs – such as colourful berries, pomegranate seeds, frozen grapes or banana chunks, dried figs and apricots – instead of ladoo, gulab jamun and halwa
  • Buy or make roasted channa flavoured with chilli and lemon instead of fried ganthia, chukri and chevdo

3.  Tips for tasty, healthier cooking:

  • Measure fat and salt added in cooking and gradually use less
  • Top your dishes with pomegranate seeds, colourful peas and roasted almonds instead of fried onions
  • Use artificial sweeteners in your chai instead of sugar (adding more tea masala also helps to bring flavour)
  • Bake samosas by brushing them with oil and cooking them in the oven, or try steamed dhokla or grilled poppadoms

4.  Balance portions sensibly on your plate:

  • Vegetables should fill about half of your plate
  • For carbohydrates, aim for around a portion roughly the size of your clenched fist
  • Using a smaller plate can help manage portion sizes
  • Pace yourself: serve smaller portions, and try eating slower and making sure you chew your food well
  • Decide on a carb goal and focus on effective portion sizes throughout the day to reach this

5.  Be wise and plan your snacks:

  • Plan ahead and be smart with your food choices. Little and often: snacks can be an opportunity to eat nutritious foods like an apple or unsweetened yogurt, and sometimes eating a snack can help you to avoid over-eating at mealtimes
  • To help with healthy snacking, display a platter of dried fruit and nuts or easy-to-eat fruits like grapes and satsumas within easy reach, instead of decorated boxes of mithai
  • Homemade, low-salt, low-sugar popcorn is a healthier snack alternative to fried snacks like ganthia and chevda. Use different spices to add flavour
  • If eating fried snacks like chevda, take a small portion in a bowl and eat it mindfully

6.  Move more and feel better:

You can easily build small bursts of physical activity into your daily routine to help keep your glucose levels steady:

  • Diwali is a perfect time to rejoice – put on the Bollywood music and enjoy some raas garba. Even moving to music while you cook helps you to burn calories!
  • Get together with friends or family for a walk and talk in the park:
    • It’s good to build regular activity into everyday routines, including celebrations. If you start slowly and build up over time, your muscles will begin to get stronger
    • Another way is to schedule some exercise in the morning before celebrations
  • Diwali is also a great time for shopping. When shopping, try to park your car further from the shopping centre and keep counting those steps!

7.  Check your glucose levels regularly:

  • Overindulging on sweet treats can lead to a spike in glucose levels, therefore checking your glucose levels regularly is important during the celebrations and is an important part of your diabetes management
  • As celebrations can often last into the night, be prepared to check your sugar levels more frequently during the festivities
  • Dr Tahir suggests talking to your healthcare team who can give you advice on how and when to monitor your glucose levels, for example using Abbott’s FreeStyle Libre 2 system. With a simple scan of your phone over the sensor, you can check your glucose levels. It also comes with glucose alarms which will alert you if your glucose levels go too high or too low, allowing you to enjoy the celebrations safely and manage your diabetes better during the holiday

8.  Signs and symptoms to watch out for:

  • If your blood sugar levels are higher than normal, you may experience symptoms including being very thirsty, tired, headaches, blurred vision, feeling sick and passing more urine than normal (especially at night)
  • If your blood sugar levels fall, you may experience symptoms including sweating, feeling shaky, anxious, pale, blurred vision, tiredness, lack of concentration and feeling disoriented
  • If these symptoms occur – please check your glucose levels and take prompt action or seek medical advice urgently

9.  Medication:

  • It’s easy to get caught up in the celebrations, but important to ensure you still remember to take your medication on time

10.  Places to go for Advice/Support:

Diabetes UK

Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF)

South Asian Health Foundation


A Giant Leap for People
with Diabetes 

Understanding and Challenging
Diabetes Stigma

References and Disclaimers

 Patients choose which device they want to receive alarms: FreeStyle Libre 2 reader or FreeStyle LibreLink app. They must start their FreeStyle Libre 2 sensor with that selected device. Once the patient scans their FreeStyle Libre 2 sensor with that device, they can receive alarms only on that device. The FreeStyle LibreLink app is only compatible with certain mobile devices and operating systems. Please check the website for more information about device compatibility before using the app. Use of FreeStyle LibreLink requires registration with LibreView.