People with diabetes will need to take a few extra precautions while fasting but, provided they have been medically cleared to fast, there is no reason they shouldn’t be able to do so healthily, says an expert from Imperial College London Diabetes Centre (ICDLC), a Mubadala Health partner.
Dr Farhana Bin Lootah, an internal medical consultant at ICLDC, has the following tips in the run-up to Ramadan for anyone with diabetes who is preparing to fast:
1. Consult a physician
- Some people with diabetes are advised not to fast, so you will need to ask your doctor whether it is safe for you.
- Your doctor or diabetes care team will advise you on how to adjust your medication or insulin doses and help you to adjust your eating plan to align with Ramadan fasting and eating hours.
- Even if your doctor has given you the all-clear, it is important to contact him or her if you are not feeling well while fasting, especially if you are on prescribed medication.
2. Space out your meals
• Resist the urge to eat continuously from iftar until just before fajr. It is a good idea to pace your mealtimes during the non-fasting hours.
• At iftar, break your fast with a light snack such as water and dates, then about an hour later, eat a full meal, and next, just before fajr, eat suhoor. If you are hungry in between, you could have one or two small snacks such as a piece of fruit, a handful of raw nuts, or one cup of yoghurt with no added sugar.
• Do not skip iftar or suhoor.
3. Choose food wisely
• Eat protein with each meal as it increases your feeling of being full. Your dietitian can help calculate your protein requirement.
• It is advisable to include fruit, vegetables and yoghurt in your meals.
• Choose healthy fats such as avocado, olive oil, and fish.
• Opt for complex carbohydrates such as wholegrain bread, nuts and brown rice which are digested slowly, rather than simple carbohydrates such cakes, white bread and pastries which can lead to blood sugar spikes.
4. Rehydrate well
• Drink plenty of fluids (sugar-free), particularly water, to avoid dehydration. Water, fibre and exercise are key to avoiding constipation during Ramadan.
• Don’t be tempted to reach for a drink with high sugar as a sudden surge of sugar in your system could result in a state of high blood glucose levels that may require hospital treatment.
5. Plan to incorporate moderate exercise into your day
• Moderate physical activity every day is a healthy option.
• Walking is one of the most recommended activities for patients.
• Avoid excessive exercise when fasting.