Expert-reviewed by Ashwini S.Kanade, Registered Dietician and Certified Diabetes Educator with 17 years of experience
Since you have diabetes, you know you need to control your sugar intake, but what do you do when it’s celebration time, and more so, if you are the birthday person? There’s no need to worry, as Wellthy’s experts share some tips on the best ways to tackle this situation and still enjoy this special day.
It’s no secret that in India, every party or celebration is guaranteed to have rich food, tempting deep fried snacks and sweets loaded with fat and sugar. What is perhaps the biggest struggle reported by most people diagnosed with diabetes, is maintaining their healthy diet on social occasions.
Yes, it can be possible to employ self-control and resist temptation altogether by eating before you head to such events and refusing to indulge. But these tactics usually don’t work when the occasion being celebrated is your birthday.
This is especially true when family members, partners, colleagues and friends want to be supportive but still, wish to display their affection with a birthday treat or by organizing a party.
Well, here are a bunch of simple tips to celebrate with gusto but without putting a dent in your diabetes-supportive, self-care routine:
1. Take charge of the basics:
It might be easy to simply pick up the phone and order a cake for most birthday parties. In your case though, going that tiny bit of an extra mile might make all the difference. Find an easy diabetes-friendly recipe online and bake your own cake. If you’re not confident or interested in baking, ask a close family member or friend to do it with you.
2. Start your own traditions:
Who says a birthday cake needs to be covered in cream icing, filled with sugar and topped with even more sugary garnishing? Explore the fascinating world of raw fruitcakes, which are made from fruit and are not cooked or baked. Try a naked cake, where there’s no icing, but decorations made of real, edible flowers, dried fruit and preserved fruit peels. And why use regular flour when you can play with a variety of nut and seed flours?
Reyna Rupani, Mumbai head of SHARAN (Sanctuary for Health & Reconnection to Animals & Nature, a non-profit organisation) shares a recipe for a moist, delicious cake made from a combination of buckwheat flour, almond flour and coconut flour.
Moist Almond Cake
- 1.5 cups buckwheat flour
- 1/2 cup almond flour
- 1/4 cup coconut flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 pinch sea salt
- 1.5 cup date paste
- 1 cup almond milk
- 1 tbsp almond butter
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Preheat oven at 180C for 10 minutes.
- Mix the dry ingredients separately and wet ingredients separately. Mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and not vice versa.
- Fold in gently. Don’t overmix. Line a baking pan with parchment paper. Pour the batter and bake for 45-50 mins or till a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
3. Redefine sweetness:
Forget sugar and instead opt for stevia, or a paste made from dried dates, raisins, and dried figs, or experiment with kharik (powdered dried dates), says Tehseen Mehdi Dudani. She beat diabetes back in 2014 after a year and a half of struggling with medication and even insulin injections. What is remarkable is that she reversed her diabetes within just three weeks of shifting to a whole-food, plant-based diet.
She admits, “Celebrations can be difficult for people with diabetes, especially in a country where there is so much emphasis on food being an expression of love and affection. This isn’t made easier by the fact that sweets, pastries and rich dishes loaded with fat and spices are the focal points of any festivities. My personal mantra is to educate those around you about your dietary preferences beforehand so they can arrange few things of your choice and don’t feel offended if you refrain from eating or drinking other things. Or they can ask for guidance to specially prepare something for you that won’t adversely affect your diet.”
And Tehseen walks the talk too. She indulges her sweet tooth regularly by making her favourite guilt-free desserts – rice laddoos, ice creams, kheer, besan laddoos, chocolate truffle balls and coconut cookies.
Who says that you have to eat cakes if it’s your birthday? What if you love some other form of sweet, and want to experiment with a healthy and diabetic-friendly variation of the same? Here’s Tehseen’s recipe for rice laddoos; perhaps you can simply take them with you to the next party to eat and share with everyone else!
Delicious Rice Laddoos
- 1 cup of raw rice (red/ brown/ black/ millet)
- 1 cup dates – deseeded and unsoaked
- 1 cup fresh grated coconut
- Cardamom powder
- Roasted nuts (almond/ walnuts/ cashews)
- Roast the rice well till it becomes brown and almost pops. Then powder it to make rice flour.
- To this add the dates, fresh coconut and cardamom powder and mash really well till it becomes a soft dough. Mix in the roasted nuts and make laddoos out of it. Enjoy!
4. Substitutes and portion control:
While replacing sugar is half the battle won, celebrations involve other items that add to the calorie count and are unhealthy for everyone, and not just people with diabetes. Even when dishes have been re-engineered to use healthier alternatives, try eating just a small portion of the ones you really like, instead of attacking everything on offer. Trade a second piece of cake for a small bite of a snack you’re fond of, and so on. Instead of feeling deprived, this will allow you to try more than one thing while still staying within your limits.
5. Shift the focus away from food:
This may sound easier than it will be to do but it is worth considering. Vegan nutritionist and healthy eating advisor Vijay Joshi suggests choosing snacks like brown rice poha, idlis and steamed vadas for parties. And he recommends plant milks for desserts like sheera and halwa. But more importantly, he points out, “You can take up new challenges and fulfil them on birthdays to get double the joy, one of achievement and the other of celebrating that achievement with your loved ones!”
Why wait for birthdays? Go ahead and treat yourself to healthy delights whenever you wish to indulge in some pampering because we honestly believe that the best beginning to reversing your diabetes is to truly love yourself.