There are two Eids in the Muslim calendar, Eid al-Fitr, which celebrates the end of Ramadan, and Eid al-Adha.
Eid al-Adha is sometimes called ‘Salty Eid’ because of the amount of savoury food available. Eid al-Fitr is known for the amount and variety of sweet foods on offer.
It’s a great time to get together with family and enjoy delicious foods as part of the celebrations. But eating too much food, especially food that’s high in fat or sugar, can lead to weight gain over time and make it harder to manage your diabetes.
Read on for our suggestions on how to enjoy the festivities while also looking after your diabetes.
1. Make easy swaps to reduce your sugar, salt and saturated fat intake
Sugary foods can be enjoyed occasionally if you have diabetes, but simple switches can make a big difference. For example, when making a traditional masala tea you could replace sugar with sweetener and if you use plant-based milks, choose unsweetened versions instead.
You should also be mindful about not having too many rusks or biscuits with tea, as these will also increase your sugar, fat and calorie intake. Try to reduce how many biscuits you have and how often you have them. Why not try one of our healthier snacks instead?
Remember to stay hydrated by drinking sugar-free drinks, rather than fizzy or juice drinks which can have a lot of added sugar. Water is the best option. You could also try making lassi with plain yogurt and handful of fruit. Take a look at our Food Labels Made Easy guide before you shop, which has handy tips on how to understand food labelling.
When you go food shopping it’s easy to become tempted by what’s on offer, but supermarkets tend to promote ready-made foods, including desserts and drinks, which can be high in saturated fat, sugar and salt, and low in fruits and vegetables. Try to cook from scratch if you can, as that way you’ll know exactly what’s in your food. You can also reduce the amount of fat in your own recipe, for example by grilling meat instead of frying.
If you’re having a dessert, try making small changes to your traditional recipes to make them healthier. Fruit salad or chaat with plain yogurt sweetened with fruit or a small handful of unsalted nuts is a great alternative.
2. Be mindful of portion sizes
It’s common to eat foods and have drinks that you might not usually have during celebrations like Eid, but being aware of your portion sizes can help you manage your blood sugar levels and avoid eating more than you’d planned. Try to fill up on vegetables, and these will help you feel fuller, and stop eating just before you feel full. You can also try using smaller plates or bowls to help you manage your portions.
3. Managing your blood sugar levels
If you normally check your blood sugar levels, you'll need to check them more often during the festivities to make sure they stay in the target range. Include more slowly absorbed foods (that have a lower glycaemic index) but be mindful of portion sizes of carbohydrates. Try cooking with wholegrain basmati instead of white rice: Wholegrain basmati rice will be absorbed more slowly, which helps to slow down how quickly your blood sugars rise after a meal.
4. Get your fill of fibre
Pulses such as chickpeas, beans and lentils are a good source of fibre and provide plant-based protein which is naturally low in salt and saturated fat. Using these to replace some of the red meat or processed meat options will lower your salt and saturated fat intake.
In the long term, eating less salt and saturated fat will help you keep your blood pressure low and help keep your heart healthy. Eating too much red meat isn’t good for our hearts and could also increase your levels of cholesterol, which increases our risk of heart disease.
Having more fibre is associated with lower risk of serious conditions such as obesity, heart diseases and certain types of cancers.
Try our chana chaat (mixed bean salad) recipe, which has four green traffic lights.
Read more about what you need for a healthy, balanced diet if you have diabetes.
5. Remember to get active
During the celebrations, it’s important to make time to exercise to help manage your diabetes. Regular physical activity can help lower your blood glucose levels, blood pressure and blood fats. Try to keep active, for example by going on a walk to meet your friends to celebrate. Take a look at our exercise hub for loads of advice on how to get more active.
Eid is a time to enjoy yourself and have foods and drinks that you wouldn’t normally have. It's a time of celebration, so many traditional foods tend to be higher in saturated fat, sugars and salt than our usual diets. But a healthy diet is important for managing diabetes and having healthier versions of traditional foods is a good way to enjoy food, while also looking after your diabetes. This might mean adapting certain recipes so that they are more balanced, lower in sugar, saturated fat and salt, and include plenty of fruits and vegetables. Here are some examples of recipes that are a bit healthier without compromising on taste.
Our ideas for Eid recipes
- Spicy vegetable samosas – the perfect side dish or snack.
- Tandori chicken and vegetables – this tasty dish is ready in only 30 minutes and has five of your five-a-day.
- Lamb biryani – this dish can be made vegetarian by adding a selection of chopped vegetables in place of lamb.
- Lamb curry – a delicious curry that contains three of your five-a-day.
- Blueberry yogurt cake with muesli base – blueberries help make this dessert extra delicious, but any fresh or frozen berries would work well.
- Chicken and lentil curry – this curry is a great way to use up store cupboard essentials.
- Mixed vegetable and bean curry – a great veggie option that contains two of your five-a-day.
- Cauliflower stir fry – this veggie curry has four portions of fruit and veg.
- Saag aloo (spinach and potatoes) – this is a great alternative to rice and contains one of your five-a-day.