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Diwali, Diabetes And Pregnancy: Sweets And Recipes For Pregnant Women

Diwali is around the corner, and the festival of lights is not complete without an assemblage of sweets - from gulab jamun, gajar ka halwa to aam shrikhand, modak and more. While the sweets are an unavoidable part of Diwali, munching on them all day is not healthy, especially for people with diabetes. And if you are pregnant, then the precautions must be double-strong.

Pregnancy demands some extra care and concern. If you are a diabetic pregnant woman, you have to be more cautious. Diabetes diagnosed during pregnancy is called gestational diabetes, which can increase the risk of miscarriage, birth defect, stillbirth, premature birth, and oversized baby [1][2].

For a diabetic pregnant woman, the blood sugar levels may increase drastically, and this can cause certain other issues both for the baby and the mother. That is, the hormone levels can make the blood sugar level rise when you are pregnant, raising the odds of having a complicated and high-risk pregnancy [3].

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Considering that the festival is almost here, you may be wondering what you can eat and not eat. We have created a list of foods that a diabetic pregnant woman can enjoy during this Diwali season.

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Foods And Sweets Safe For Diabetic Pregnant Women

Experts point out that the extent to which diabetes patients can indulge in sweets during Diwali depends on their condition and the severity of the disease [4]. There are certain factors which affect the blood sugar levels during festival seasons as people tend to eat large serving size of food, including sweets, savoury and fried foods.

Doctors suggest that instead of using sugar, diabetic pregnant women can use artificial sweeteners (calorie-free); when used in moderation, most pregnant women can safely use the FDA approved sweeteners [5].

A diabetic pregnant woman can go ahead and try these sweets:

• Kheer

• Ragi coconut ladoo, ragi malpua, ragi barfi (nachni)

• Sandesh

• Phirni

• Apple rabdi

• Mixed fruit shrikhand

• Diabetic-friendly puran poli

• Broken wheat ladoo (with flax seeds)

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Foods And Sweets To Avoid For Diabetic Pregnant Women

Festival season, along with the colours and joy, elevates the level of adulteration in foods as well [6]. So, diabetic pregnant women should steer clear of the adulterated food products which might cause harm to them and their unborn child. Some common Diwali sweets to avoid are mentioned below:

• Khoya (may contain starch and paper).

• Sweets with vark/varak (the thin silver on barfis and other sweets), as most shops may not use the best quality varak and could be aluminium instead of silver [7].

• Ghee sweets may contain vanaspati or animal fat [8].

• Packaged juices with artificial colouring, thickeners, emulsifiers.

Dried fruits because there have been reports of sellers soaking dry fruits in acetic acid or citric acid to increase their size [9].

• Dried fruits can also have artificial colours that may impact the unborn foetus and induce nausea and vomiting [10].

• Avoid packaged sweets that contain fructose syrup, protein isolates, bulking agents, thickeners, emulsifiers, colourants and flavour enhancers [11].

The best and safest way is to make Diwali sweets at your home, so you may not have to worry about adulteration and the presence of harmful chemicals. Yes, it may be time-consuming, but it goes a long way in safeguarding you and your unborn child.

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Diwali Recipes For Diabetic Pregnant Women

1. Sandesh

Ingredients

• 150 g paneer/cottage cheese

• ½ cup khoya, grated

• Four green cardamoms, crushed

• Any sugar substitute of your choice

• A large pinch of kesar (saffron)

• Six almonds, nicely chopped

Directions

• Wash the paneer and cut into small bite-size cubes.

• Soak paneer cubes in warm milk for 10 mins.

• Once the paneer turns soft, add paneer and milk in the blender and make a smooth puree.

• Pour the puree into a non-stick pan and keep stirring for 5-6 mins on low flame.

• After that, increase the flame to medium and keep stirring until the mixture separates from the pan.

• Add sugar-free or sugar substitute of your choice and cardamom powder.

• Cover the pan and let it cool down to room temperature.

• Transfer the mixture in a flat plate and knead the mixture with palm and fingers.

• Make small balls/laddus of your choice. Or spread it evenly on a plate and cut into squares or any desired shapes.

• Enjoy at room temperature.

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2. Lauki Kheer

Ingredients

• 100 g bottle gourd (lauki/doodhi)

• 5 g ghee

• Ten almonds, chopped

• 1l low-fat milk

• 1 tbsp date syrup

• ½ tsp cardamom powder

• 1 tsp rose water

Directions

• Remove the seeds and grate the bottle gourd.

• In a deep vessel, boil it until soft (3-5 mins), strain and then squeeze to remove excess water.

• Heat ghee in a pan, add almonds and sauté till lightly browned.

• Remove the excess ghee on a tissue and keep aside.

• Add boiled bottle gourd to the same ghee, cook for few minutes and keep aside.

• In a separate vessel, boil the milk and simmer till it is reduced to three-fourths.

• Now add the sautéed lauki and mix well.

• Add the date syrup and cook till it dissolves, and kheer is semi-thick.

• Mix in green cardamom powder and rose water.

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3. Ragi-Oats Ladoo

Ingredients

• 1 ½ cup ragi flour

• 1 cup oats flour

• 20 ripe dates (ripe)

• ½ cup milk

• 1 tbsp ghee

• 1 tsp cardamom powder

• ¼ cup white sesame seeds

• ¼ cup of coconut powder

Directions

• Lightly roast oats and ragi, let it cool and grind it well.

• Take 15 dates, clear out the seeds and make a paste of it after adding to milk. Repeat this.

• Dice the remaining dates.

• Roast the sesame seeds and cashew nuts.

• Then, put some ghee in the pan and let it melt, add oats flour, and roast it. Repeat the same with ragi flour.

• Mix both the flour and add the remaining ghee to it.

• Add dates paste to the flour mixture.

• Then, add stevia, cardamom powder and mix well.

• Allow it to cool down for about 10 mins, add the diced dates and make small balls of the batter into ladoo.

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Some Food Tips For Diabetic Pregnant Women During Diwali

• Eat less often and avoid large quantities in one go to avoid indigestion and other pregnancy complication [12].

• If you are eating outside food, be careful about food hygiene.

• Avoid chocolate/flavoured sweets (caffeine content).

• Avoid sweet, fatty, spicy, and deep-fried foods.

• Limit the use of sugar substitute.

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On A Final Note…

While it is time for happiness, sweets, and joy, make sure you restrict yourself from some of these sweets, not just for your health but also your baby's. Happy Diwali (in advance)!

[image source:freepik]