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Your Ramadan as a Diabetic

It’s that time of the year again! Everybody awaits Ramadan to revive their sense of spirituality during this holy month. And as you know, one of the main practices during Ramadan is fasting, which is achieved by not eating or drinking from sunrise until sunset, every day for 30 days. The beneficial effects of fasting on health are significant. However, it might not be the same for diabetics.

· Diabetes,Type 1 Diabetes,Type 2 Diabetes

To fast or not to fast?

This is a question that all diabetics ask when it comes to deciding how they’re going to spend the holy month of Ramadan. And it is important to grasp the fact that this hugely influences the health and blood glucose control of people with diabetes.

In fact, you might find a lot of diabetics around you who choose to fast during this holy month as any other person not having diabetes would, without any complications but it could differ between having type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes.

In the case of type 1 diabetes, it is inadvisable to stay without food or carbohydrates for long periods, as it hugely affects blood glucose levels. Not eating carbohydrates forces the body to use other sources of energy to function and thus leads to the release of ketone bodies, which elevate blood glucose. Taking insulin in such cases can be risky, because your body isn’t working the way it does normally, so predicting insulin doses might be inaccurate, and it might lead to hypoglycemia. These fluctuations in blood glucose are harmful, and it is better to restrain from fasting.

As for type 2 diabetics, some might be on oral glucose lowering medications and some might be on both, drugs and insulin. Those only on oral medications might find it easier to fast, since the risk for hypoglycemia is lower. With the right doses and the right timing of intake of the medications, their blood glucose might stay well in control and within the normal ranges.

ADJUSTING MEAL TIMES

Another thing you might have to do during the holy month of Ramadan is adjusting your mealtimes, since it can be hard not to follow the meal pattern of your family. This means that the main meal is going to be in evening instead of the afternoon, and this modification no doubt affects blood glucose levels too. In this case, you might need to adjust the doses of insulin or medications taken, with the help of your doctor. Keep in mind that skipping meals is not beneficial for your health, but instead you could manage your meals in a way that helps you keep your blood sugars balanced.

What to eat at iftar

Lastly, the part we can’t ignore, is iftar time. At this particular mealtime, you get to make your 30 days of Ramadan healthy and build healthier habits, or not. It all depends on your food choices. So here are some tips to take into consideration when having iftar:

  • Start with a salad or a homemade vegetables soup with low added salt

  • Limit your consumption of fried foods or try to bake them instead (samosa, kebbeh, potato, etc...)

  • Limit your consumption of ready-prepared or fast food

  • Include whole grains, lean meats and healthy fats in your main course

  • Keep an eye on your portions and make sure you don’t overeat

  • Choose fruits as a dessert most days of the week

  • Beware of juices served during Ramadan as they might be very high in sugar (licorice, jallab, etc…)

  • Enjoy sweets only a couple of days a week, in moderate portions

  • Stay well hydrated

How you spend your Ramadan is ultimately a personal choice. However, you should always make your health a priority and choose what leaves you feeling better, healthier, and more in control of your own body. Any way you choose, don’t forget to consult your doctor.

Make sure you take care of yourself and benefit from the joy and spirituality that Ramadan brings.

Ramadan Karim :-)

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Hiba Ayoubi

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