Ramadan, the ninth month in the Islamic calendar, is when Muslims devote themselves to their faith and fast from sunrise to sunset.
The Ramadan fasting period is obligatory for almost all Muslims, although certain groups are exempt for health and other reasons, some people with diabetes are keen to observe the fast. The long daylight hours in the UK at this time of the year can make it a challenging time.
Those with diabetes who fast are at risk of experiencing high and low blood glucose levels. They also need to be aware that there are changes to the body during fasting, so they may need to change when and how they take any medication that they rely on. To help people to fast safely, people with diabetes should seek advice from their specialist diabetes team or speak to their community pharmacist for individual advice.
Diabetes UK has highlighted that long fasts of 15 hours or more can put people at higher risk of hypoglycaemia and dehydration, which can make you ill.
The following tips may be useful:
. Check your blood glucose levels more frequently than you normally would.
. When breaking your fast, have only small amounts of food and avoid only eating sweet or fatty foods.
. Where possible try to eat just before sunrise when you commence the next day’s fast.
. Reduce your carbohydrate content (this has the most impact on blood glucose levels).
. Use healthier cooking methods – try baking rather than frying.
. Choose healthier food options where possible (balanced meals with vegetables and salad).
. Hydration – at the end of your fast you should drink plenty of sugar-free fluids.
Dr Jessica Randall-Carrick
Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Diabetes Clinical Lead
Clinical Dietetic Manager for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation