This photo shows a diabetic patient testing their blood sugar levels. (Data map)
Ramadan of Islam Expect this year to start on March 22 or 23 and run until April 21, depending on when the new moon elicits.
Muslims are required to fast daily for 29 or 30 days from dawn to sunset. People who have health problems requiring medication; Pregnant or menstruating women or women who are breastfeeding are exempt from fasting. However, people with diabetes, especially those who rely on insulin or dietary changes to manage their condition, can safely fast if their doctor gives them permission.
Ashwin Pankajakshan Endocrinologist, NMC Royal Hospital, Dubai and Dr Anil Kumar Pura Narayanaswamy, Endocrinologist and Diabetologist, Prime Medical Center Dubai Motor City, share their top 10 tips for getting through this difficult time holy month as a diabetic.
One: Discuss with your doctor
“It’s very important to discuss your fasting plan with your doctor,” says Pankajakshan.
Kumar consults his patients three weeks before Ramadan begins to determine if it is safe for them to fast. For those who decide to fast, it may be necessary to change the timing of their medication — such as when their insulin is injected, doctors say.
Pankajakshan explained that insulin injections, for example, might be changed to come before fasting so their blood sugar doesn’t drop.
Two: stay hydrated
Pankajakshan advises diabetics to drink plenty of water — at least eight glasses of water — during Iftar (breaking the fast) and Suhur (the meal before dawn).
Three: Check your blood sugar regularly on an empty stomach
Four: Don’t Skip Suhur
Diabetics who skip their pre-dawn meals can experience hypoglycemia — which can be dangerous. Doctors suggest that diabetic patients should also eat fasting meals as late as possible.
Five: Be wary of hypoglycemia symptoms
Doctors recommend looking out for symptoms of hypoglycemia—low blood sugar levels. Symptoms include trembling, sweating, shaking, blurred vision, or dizziness. If you have any of these symptoms, you should check your blood sugar right away.
Six: Avoid Overeating During Iftar
Avoiding overeating during iftar can prevent fluctuations in blood sugar levels. Pankajakshan also said diabetics should stay away from high carbohydrate and sugary foods and cut back on soft drinks and sweets.
Seven: Eat good food
Doctor-recommended foods include grains, meat, chicken, and yogurt. Starchy vegetables such as potatoes, carrots and beets are also encouraged.
Eight: Do not eat
People with diabetes should minimize their intake of fatty and salty foods and limit their caffeine intake at meal times and with their meals fried food, Pankajakshan suggested.
Nine: Ramadan exercise
Doctors recommend light to moderate exercise during Ramadan during iftar and iftar.
Ten: Know when to stop fasting
Diabetics should not fast if blood glucose levels are below 4 mmol/L (72 mg/Dl) or above 16 mmol/L (290 mg/Dl). “It’s important that they monitor blood sugar [if fasting]’” Kumar said, adding that if it falls below or above a certain level, fasting becomes dangerous and they need to stop.