Advice during Ramadan for diabetics

Fasting can be a stressful time for diabetics. The following are helpful tips on how to cope during this time.

1) It is not essential to fast, as Islam permits those with illness to avoid this if it could adversely affect their health. This is especially so for frail elderly patients. Choosing to do so is a personal choice. if you choose to fast, you are encouraged to use a sugar-checking machine (glucometer) to check your blood glucose regularly.

2) You must recognise symptoms of hypoglycemia (low sugar – confusion, lightheadedness, cold sweats), and break fast immediately should it occur. Take a cup of sweetened drink or take a sweet quickly if this happens. Family members should look out for these signs also. Do come back to see the doctor if this happens often.

3) Avoid eating sweet foods during this time, e.g. sweetened red date. The diet should remain a balanced one, which includes complex carbohydrates (rice, bread, noodles, wheat, semolina, beans), vegetable, fruits, and less oil and fat. Complex carbohydrates last longer than the sweets, and can reduce hypoglycemia. Evening meals can be spilt into 2 (e.g. 7 pm and 10pm) to avoid too large a meal.

4) Your diabetic medication dose and frequency may be adjusted by your doctor during this period, to take into account your fasting.  Discuss this with your doctor before Ramadan begins.

5) Have breakfast as late as possible, and dinner as early as possible. This will minimise the fasting duration.

6) Exercise should be reduced, or only light exercise should be done. You can go for an evening stroll about an hour after dinner, e.g. walk 1 bus-stop distance to the mosque. Tarawih (obligatory prayers) can be taken as exercise.

7) Drink more water during non-fasting hours. Not having enough water in your body can make you feel sick. Avoid caffeinated drinks (coke, coffee, tea) as they will make you pass urine more frequently.