A Diwali Without Gaining Weight? Before the Sweets, Have Karela!

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When Navratri ends, the festive season officially begins as Diwali is just around the corner. All the parties begin in earnest. There are Diwali melas, and the Diwali goodies that people gift. For Bengalis, the season begins even earlier with all those Puja delicacies…

October, therefore, is without doubt the month of excess… and most people report gaining weight by the end of it. But you can still take care of it with a few checks and balances. It’s the overload of sweets that proves more dangerous for most of us, specially those who are diabetics, and even more so for those who are on the borderline — the pre-diabetics (where the sugar levels hover just short of the red mark).

They (and actually all of us) can do well by incorporating some blood-sugar balancing foods consciously in their diets to minimize the damage of this junk-heavy month. Below is a list of foods that can serve as preventive tools to check sugar-rise. Take your pick or use them all by rotation.

  1. Cinnamon

It has a component hydroxychalcone that helps keep the fasting glucose in control. A pinch everyday (say in your cup of tea or sprinkled on your cereal) is all you need.

2. Fatty Fish

DHA, a type of omega-3 found in fish like mackerel, salmon and tuna helps keep inflammation in the body down, and consequently, diabetes away.

4. Turmeric

Turmeric helps cure cold and upper tract respiratory diseases.
Turmeric helps cure cold and upper tract respiratory diseases.
(Photo: iStockphoto)

Turmeric is not called golden spice without a reason! it helps keep inflammation down, and thus, your sugar numbers in check. Add it liberally to your curries!

5. Bitter Gourd

Karela helps lower the blood sugar.
Karela helps lower the blood sugar.
(Photo: iStockphoto)

Bitter gourd (karela) contains a hypoglycemic or insulin-like principle, also known as plant insulin, which helps lower the blood and urine sugar levels. Cook it at least twice a week.

6. Indian Gooseberry (Amla)

Amla (gooseberry) is one of my main picks for vitamin C.
Amla (gooseberry) is one of my main picks for vitamin C.
(Photo: iStockphoto)

Amla has a very high vitamin C content and is known to help stimulate the islets of Langerhans, an isolated group of cells that secrete the hormone insulin in the pancreas. Bite into an amla every day or add it to chutneys liberally.

7. Fenugreek Seeds (Methi Seeds)

Fenugreek or methi seeds.
Fenugreek or methi seeds.
(Photo: iStockphoto)

When consumed daily, they help keep the blood sugar levels in check. Add these to your dal tadka and enjoy the flavor and benefits!

8. Black Pepper

Black pepper can help get rid of cold and sore throat.
Black pepper can help get rid of cold and sore throat.
(Photo: iStockphoto)

This spice is a rich source of vanadium, a trace mineral that helps boost or inhibit the action of enzymes in the body, helping keep the blood sugar levels stable. Always add some black pepper over a freshly fried egg and season your soups and vegetables with it too!

9. Mushrooms

They are a good source of vanadium.
They are a good source of vanadium.
(Photo: iStockphoto)

These fungi are another great source of vanadium. So use your mushrooms in soups, salads, casseroles, or pies for a filling satisfying main.

10. Barley

It is rich in soluble fibre.
It is rich in soluble fibre.
(Photo: iStockphoto)

This grain is a great defender against any rise of blood sugar levels as it is rich in soluble fibre that has the ability to form a gel when it mixes with liquids in the stomach. This slows down the emptying of the stomach, which prevents carbohydrates from being absorbed too quickly and raising blood glucose levels.

11. Apples

An apple a day keeps your skin glowing.
An apple a day keeps your skin glowing.
(Photo: iStockphoto)

They are rich in quercetin, a plant pigment that helps the body secrete insulin more efficiently and wards off insulin resistance. Eat apples with the skin though — it has six times more quercetin than the flesh.

12. Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seeds are packed with magnesium, which helps in improving constipation.
Pumpkin seeds are packed with magnesium, which helps in improving constipation.
(Photo: iStockphoto)

These seeds are rich in plant chemicals known as lignans, as well as magnesium, both of which help the body use insulin more efficiently. They also contain globulins or proteins that help lower blood sugar.