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Diabetes-Friendly Pongal: Include These Food Items in Your Thali

A festival of harvest, Pongal symbolises “prosperity” in Tamil culture. The word “Pongal” literally means “overflowing”, suggesting an abundance of dishes made from milk, ghee and rice. While the celebration is inevitable as one needs to thank the Sun God for his blessings and rewards, people with diabetes can’t enjoy the festive season without worrying about their sugar levels. Hence, we have curated a list of things you can include in your Thali for a diabetes-friendly Pongal Celebration. 

Pongal celebration has a history of 2000 years. It started during the Sangam Period, where people started offering gratitude to the Sun God for the plentiful harvest. Since Pongal is all about food celebration, our Health Coach Poojitha Acharya has specially designed a Pongal Thali that diabetics can enjoy without impacting their blood glucose levels. 

“This season let’s harvest healthy habits. Fly the kites so high and detach our unhealthy choices. And let’s not forget to have Til, peanuts and a pinch of gur to keep up with the winter and have a wonderful & safe Pongal festival.” – Poojitha Acharya, Health Coach, BeatO

Traditional Pongal Thali

A traditional Pongal Thali is rich and high in protein. It includes delicacies like: 

  • Plantain Fry/Poriyal
  • Cucumber Carrot Moong Kachumbar
  • Mix Vegetable Fry/Poriyal
  • Chakkarai Pongal
  • Ven Pongal
  • Till Jaggery Mix/Ellu-Bella
  • Coconut Lemon Rice
  • Cooked White Rice
  • Parappu Boli/Bele Holige
  • Medu Vada
  • Mix Vegetable Curry/Sambar
  • Rasam/ Obbattu Saaru
  • Buttermilk


A single thali contributes to more than 3/4 daily energy requirement. This one thali contributes to nearly one whole day’s total protein requirement. The ingredients used are especially helpful in keeping the body warm naturally during Winter and have a lot of antioxidants in them. However, people with diabetes need to be extra cautious when it comes to diet and nutrition. 


What to Include in a Diabetes-friendly Pongal Thali

Ms. Acharya suggests, A healthier version of Pongal Thali that is low in carbohydrates & contributes to a safer, nutritious and healthier festival. The thali is ‌high in health-promoting nutrients like fibre and protein which aids in promoting good metabolism. It also has good fats which help to keep the body warm naturally during winter, soothe nerves and lubricate bones and joints. Fats support the function of hormones such as the adrenals, which maintain healthy stress responses and support immunity.

She suggests that diabetics should follow this combination of food during the Pongal festival.

ITEMS gm Cup ENERGY (Kcal) PROTEIN (g) CARB (g) FAT (g) FIBER (g)
Cucumber carrot moong kachumbar/salad 75 0.5 Katori 49 1.7 5.7 2.6 2.2
Mix vegetable fry/Poriyal 50 0.5 Katori 42 1.3 5.5 1.8 2
Sugar-free Brown rice Pongal (sweet) 50 0.5 Katori 54 1.5 9.5 1.1 1.2
Till jagerry mix/Ellu-Bella 10 1 tbsp 57 1.4 3.3 4.5 1.1
Lemon quinoa 51.5 0.25 CUP 81 2.1 10.3 3.6 1.4
Cooked Brown rice 62 0.5 CUP 55 1.2 11.4 0.4 0.5
Sugar free Parappu Boli/bele holige 50 1 PC 188 4.2 21.1 9.6 3.6
Air fried masala vada 40 1 PC 85 4.4 12.7 1.9 3.2
Mix vegetable Curry/sambar 75 0.5 Katori 60 2 6.4 3.1 1.6
Rasam/ Obbattu Saaru 75 0.5 Katori 33 1.8 4.6 0.8 0.4
Buttermilk 250 ml 1 Glass 45 2.3 2.3 3 0
Total 749 23.9 92.8 32.4 17.2
Daily requirement (rda) 1400-1500 30-40 100-150 20-35 more than 15 gms

Other Tips for a Diabetes-Friendly Pongal

To enjoy the festival to the fullest, ensure to:

  • Monitor your blood glucose levels regularly.
  • Keep a glucometer handy and practise social distancing.
  • Avoid as many carbs and sweets as you can.
  • Stay active.

Download the BeatO App to get a personalised diet plan for free.

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