- Can I fast during Ramadan if I have diabetes?
People with diabetes and chronic problems are exempted from fasting. However, diabetic patients can fast and often it is not harmful. However, each person is different and fasting can have a significant impact on a person’s health. A person’s ability to fast depends on how controlled his/her diabetes is, the medications being taken and food habits.
Hypoglycemia or low blood glucose, high blood glucose and dehydration are the three key risks a diabetic may face while fasting. People taking insulin are at the risk of hypoglycemia. It is advisable to limit rigorous physical activity during the hours of fasting. Low glucose levels may happen during the day when it is extremely hot and sunny, however it is also important to make sure that you don’t break your fast with a very large meal, in order to avoid any spike in blood sugar. Instead, distribute your meals to two or three meals during the non-fasting hours.
Dehydration is a rather common issue faced during the hot summer months. To avoid dehydration make sure to drink non-sugary drinks during meals.
For a person living with diabetes, it is always advisable to consult a specialist a few weeks or months before Ramadan to assess the medication and jointly decide on the most suitable course of action and how to time or dose your medications / insulin.
Only a specialist can guide you to create a plan that is suitable for your health and it would work best to stay close to a specialist during Ramadan to ensure that your key indicators are within limits. There are several home monitoring devices that you can use to test yourself and in today’s digital age, it is even possible to have 24/7 monitoring digitally. The Aster Chronic Care @Home service, for example, uses a smart app to upload patients’ readings directly to an online platform that is monitored by nurses and paramedics round the clock. The Aster Chronic Care @Home Control Centre communicates with the patient if a significant spike or drop is noticed.
- What kind of diet should I follow to stay fit during Ramadan and also keep my sugar levels under control?
If you are already following a well-balanced diet, it is best to continue eating as normal as possible during Ramadan as well. While every meal is a celebration during Ramadan, it is wise to follow healthy eating habits even during Ramadan.
Limit the intake of sweets, sugary drinks and indulge more in healthy fats, lean meat. It is best to avoid caffeine intake during fasting because it can cause dehydration. Drink lots of water during the non-fasting hours to stay hydrated until you start your fast. Ramadan meals should be simple, planned well, and should contain bread, cereals, fruits, vegetables, fish, meat, and milk. The one thing to keep in mind during Suhoor and Iftar is to avoid overeating. Having foods rich in complex carbohydrates at Suhoor is good since they release energy slowly and will help you function throughout the day. Each person’s body requirement differs, hence it is best to consult a specialist to plan your Ramadan.
- I am a diabetic and I travel frequently for work. Could you suggest some essential do’s and don’ts of fasting while traveling?
It is permissible for somebody who travels too often to not fast during the days of travel and make up for it later. People who travel also fast successfully. However your health concerns will still remain if you are diabetic and your ability to fast will depend on how well managed your condition is. It is a must to consult a specialist before you plan your travel. Your physician will be able to guide you best based on your condition and the medications you take. This Ramadan, remember to ‘fast’ in the true spirit and be careful of the ‘feasts’.
Dr. Prakash Pania
Aster Clinic, Bur Dubai (Aster Jubilee Medical Complex)