Diabetes and Ramadan: Guidelines for fasting
Fasting in Ramadan means to attain Taqwa, and it is prescribed by Allah for His believers.
Chapter 2, Verse 83 of the Qur’an states: "O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that may become righteous."
Fasting with Diabetes can be challenging but Muslims all over the world fast with this condition. It’s a personal decision but advice needs to be taken from doctors/health care professionals.
If you are taking insulin 2 or more times a day, have poor control, or are suffering from liver or kidney problems, in such cases it is advisable not to fast. Even if you are at a moderate or low risk and are planning to fast, it is vital to discuss your situation with doctors before fasting as your medication may need to be changed.
Chapter 2, Verse 184 of the Quran states: “(Fasting for) a limited number of days. So, whoever among you is ill or on a journey (during them) then an equal number of days (are to be made up). And upon those who are able (to fast, but with hardship) a ransom (as substitute) of feeding a poor person (each day). And whoever volunteers excess it is better for him. But to fast is best for you, if you only knew.”
If you are fasting with Diabetes
Extreme care needs to be taken with regards to your diet at Suhoor and Iftar. Otherwise, it may put you at risk of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), high blood sugar (hyperglycemia) and dehydration. Hence, extreme care needs to be taken in your diet at suhoor and iftar.
It has been observed that people with Diabetes tend to avoid starchy carbohydrates at suhoor, which may put them at risk of low blood sugar. To avoid low sugar levels, starchy carbohydrates, need to be included both at suhoor and iftar. Along with these, fruits and lots of vegetables also have to be included, to increase fibre intake. Fibre will be slow released in the body throughout the day, hence preventing low sugar levels. Including healthy fats could also be beneficial, as fats help slow down digestion.
To Avoid Low Sugar Levels
- Wholemeal roti/chapati, wholemeal bread, brown rice OR basmati rice, potatoes with skin, whole meal cereal.
- Fruit and Vegetables.
- Healthy Fats such as olive oil /spread, nuts, seeds, avocado, olives.
In many instances, after iftar people with diabetes may suffer from high sugar levels. Even when they avoid sugary drinks and foods, they still get high sugar readings. In this situation, it is vital to know what other foods could cause the sugar levels to rise.
People with diabetes must understand that all starchy carbohydrates, fruit and dairy will affect their sugar levels and if consumed in large amounts, despite not having sugary drinks and food, they can get a spike in their sugar levels.
To Avoid High Sugar Levels
Have NO MORE than:
- 40-80 gm chapati, OR 1-2 slices of bread OR 2-4 small potatoes, OR 30 -60 g of cereal at one time
- 200 ml milk, matchbox-size cheese, 125 ml yogurt at one time
- 80 g of fruit at one time
- Avoid high sugar foods and drinks
Hydration is extremely important for people with diabetes. They are at higher risk as compared to others. The kidney gets rid of excess blood sugar through urination causing greater water loss, therefore care needs to be taken.
To Avoid Dehydration
- Try to have as much water as possible at suhoor and after iftar.
- Try to limit intake of tea and coffee as it stimulates water loss.
- Try to avoid having sweet and salty drinks like lassi, juices, fizzy drinks etc.
- Increase fruit and vegetables intake as because of high water content they can also give hydration.
If you have diabetes, your situation can become stressful during Ramadan. Look after your health and look after your body. Don’t put yourself in a situation which may cause future health problems for you. Have a happy and a healthy Ramadan.