Diabetes And Fasting
By Fareeha Jay
Fasting in Ramadan means to attain taqwa, and it is asked 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.
In this regard, it is written in 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,”
Tips & Guides For Diabetic Patients
If you are diabetic and still fasting, 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 (hyper glycemia) and dehydration. Hence, extreme care needs to be taken in your diet at suhoor and iftar.
It has been observed that diabetic patients tend to avoid starchy carbohydrates at suhoor, which may put them at risk of low blood sugars. 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 released slowly in the body throughout the day, hence preventing low sugar levels. Including healthy fats could also be beneficial, as fats help slow down digestion.
What to do to Avoid Low Sugar Levels
To avoid low sugar level, have
1. Whole meal roti/chapati, whole meal bread, brown rice OR basmati rice, potatoes with skin, whole meal cereal.
2. Fruit and Vegetables.
3. Healthy Fats such as olive oil /spread, nuts, seeds, avocado, olives.
How To Avoid High Sugar Levels
In many instances, diabetic patients experience high sugar level after iftar. 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. Diabetic patients must understand that all starchy carbohydrates, fruit and dairy will affect their sugar levels and if consumed in large amounts, despite their not having sugary drinks and food, they can get a spike in their sugar levels.
So these measures should be taken to avoid high sugar levels.
Do not take more than
1. 40-80 gm chapati, OR 1-2 slices of bread OR 2-4 small potatoes, OR 30 -60g of cereal at one time
2. 200 ml milk, matchbox size cheese, 125 ml yogurt at one time
3. 80 g of fruit at one time
4. Avoid high sugar foods and drinks
Importance of Hydration During Ramadan
Hydration is extremely important for diabetic patients. 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.
How to Avoid Dehydration
1. Try to have as much water as possible at suhoor and after iftar.
2. Try to limit intake of tea and coffee as it stimulates water loss.
3. Try to avoid having sweet and salty drinks like lassi, juices, fizzy drinks etc.
4. Increase fruit and vegetables intake as because of high water content they can also give hydration.
5. Having Diabetes 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.