During the month of Ramada, Muslims are required to fast for 30 days, which can last for 15 hours or more daily. Although there are exceptions to this, if you plan to fast, we want you to have a safe and risk-free Ramadan month. Which is why we tell you the complications related to diabetes during Ramadan fasting, the best food for fasting, and Ramadan fasting tips.
Risks of Diabetes During Ramadan Fasting
Anybody fasting for an extended period can face multiple risks, including dizziness, headache, weakness, and more. The risks increase if the individual has diabetes. Some of the significant potential complications associated with diabetes during Ramadan are:
Hypoglycemia is a condition where blood sugar levels drop below the normal range (less than 70 mg/dl – 3.9mmol/l). This can even happen to non-diabetics since the body lacks glucose during the time of fasting. People with diabetes also carry the risk of hyperglycemia during Ramadan season, a condition where the sugar levels go above the normal range (above 200 mg/dl – 11.1 mmol/l).
When the body does not get glucose for energy, it starts burning fats instead. This can result in the production of ketones which can make the blood acidic. In such cases, the body can suffer from multiple risks such as cerebral oedema (swelling of the brain), and in worst cases, death.
Diabetes During Ramadan: Fasting Tips
Here is a proper handout about the best food for fasting during Ramadan:
For suhoor (Pre-dawn meal)
Since Suhoor is the meal before your fasting, it is essential to keep it wholesome for lasting energy. Here are a few options:
Fish, Chicken or Other forms of Meat
Chicken, fish, or any low-fat dairy products are rich in protein and also limit your fat intake. They also help in building your immune system and maintaining healthy bones.
Fruits & Vegetables
Since fasting can be for long periods, it is essential to intake foods that are rich in vitamins, minerals, and carbohydrates. Fruits and vegetables are a great source of fibre and provide a feeling of fullness and avoid constipation.
Rice, Bread or Foods Rich in Carbohydrates
Foods that are a source of carbohydrates take longer to digest and therefore are one of the best foods for fasting. Make sure you include rice, bread, or alternatives that provide carbohydrates. Also, you can try Ragi Khakhra, Quinoa Chips, Bajra Puff and more.
For Iftaar (Dinner)
Iftaar or the meal that you have after fasting needs to be fulfilling, but not too heavy. Therefore, the meal must contain foods that source carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, fibre, and more. You can go for food options provided for Suhoor.
To keep the meal healthy, it is advisable to cook them in methods that limit the usage of oils, such as grilling, or baking. Also, it is best to choose oils that are high in unsaturated fats. Do not eat high-sugar items or desserts right after the fasting ends.
Ramadan Fasting Tips
Now that you know the nutrition that needs to be maintained in diabetes during Ramadan, here are a few Ramadan fasting tips to help you manage your blood sugar levels:
- Frequently monitor your blood sugar levels
It is essential for people with diabetes to regularly check their sugar levels to avoid complications. Make sure you are looking out for signs of hypoglycemia, hyperglycemia, or even dehydration. If you experience dizziness, blurred vision, or irregular heartbeat, break your fast immediately.
- Stay hydrated
Have at least 8-10 glasses of water during Suhoor and Iftaar. If you stay in warm places, try to minimise outside activities, and stay indoors.
- Avoid overeating
Iftaar is a celebration with friends and family. During such times, it is normal to get tempted with all the food available. However, please ensure not to overeat as this can increase the risk of causing a spike in your blood sugar levels.
Try not to be sedentary
Although fasting can be physically tiring and exhausting, try to keep moving. Moderately exercise and find out what works for you. If you workout in the morning, see how you feel when you switch to evenings. However, note that you must avoid strenuous exercise altogether.
Stay in touch with your dietitian
Last, but not the least, inform your dietitian or doctor about your fasting. Blood sugar levels are bound to fluctuate during Ramadan season, and if you are on medication, it is essential to make adjustments accordingly. This needs to be done by your physician and not on your own.
Ramadan is a month of joy, prosperity, and happiness. Therefore, don’t let diabetes affect your celebration in any way!