Ramadan 2023: 5 tips for people with diabetes to fast safely during the holy month

Ramadan 2023: Fasting may not be the best for people with diabetes. Here are 5 tips for diabetics to fast safely and avoid complications like dehydration, low or high blood sugar levels.
Tips for diabetics to fast safely
5 tips for people with diabetes to fast safely during Ramadan. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock
Dr Eman Sheshah Updated: 17 Oct 2023, 18:34 pm IST
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Ramadan is considered the holiest month, according to the Islamic calendar. People offer prayers and fast for a period of one month to celebrate it. While observing fast is a good ritual that not only shows devotion but also keeps your health in check. However, fasting is not one of the best things for people with diabetes. For people with diabetes, the long hours of fasting mean that their diabetes management regimen needs significant adjustments. If people with diabetes wish to fast, they must consult their doctors first so as to discuss a good plan that includes dietary and activity-related requirements along with medication and self-monitoring schedules.

Tips for people with diabetes to fast safely during Ramadan

Here are a few tips to consider besides a doctor’s advice for safe and healthy fasting during Ramadan:

1. Look out for risks of fasting

Diabetics should weigh the risks of fasting to avoid complications. It can lead to a lot of risks. Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar levels) may occur especially late in the afternoon just before Iftar. One may experience symptoms such as dizziness, irritability, excessive sweating, fast heartbeats, and shaking.

Ramadan fast for diabetics
Know the side effects of fasting for diabetics during Ramadan. Image Courtesy: Shutterstock. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

Severe hyperglycemia (high blood sugar levels) might occur after Sehri/Suhoor and Iftar. Symptoms to watch out for are dry mouth, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, shortness of breath, and confusion.

If you notice any symptoms, you may need to break the fast. Doctor consultation is vital to know about how to manage these risks.

2. Be on a blood sugar watch

Monitor blood sugar regularly as advised by the doctor. This can be easily done at home with the help of a glucometer. It is likely that the doctor will recommend measuring blood sugar in the morning at the time of Sehri, at noon, just before Iftar and 2 hours after Iftar. One may be required to break the fast at any point in time if the blood sugar is out of range. Self-monitoring of blood sugar not only helps avert the risk of hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia, but it also gives the doctor an understanding of whether the given medication and its dose are working, or if they need to be modified for optimal blood sugar control.

3. Keep your calorie intake in check

The daily calorie intake that the body requires needs to be balanced and evenly divided between Sehri and Iftar to avoid hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia. Foods such as whole grains, cereals, and beans have a low glycaemic index and release energy slowly. These can help to prevent sudden fluctuations in the blood sugar level. A nutritionist can help calculate the daily quantity of calories for each meal and the type of food to be consumed.

4. Stay hydrated and eat healthy during Sehri and Iftar

Dehydration is particularly a concern this year as Ramadan has arrived during the hotter months in most parts of India. This could manifest as reduced urination, dark urine, fatigue, dizziness, and confusion.

Stay hydrated during Ramadan to avoid complications. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

Make sure to include plenty of fruits, vegetables, and salads during Sehri and Iftar. Avoid desserts and foods rich in sugar and saturated fats. Use small amounts of oil when cooking, have plenty of water and avoid caffeinated and sweetened drinks. Consult a nutritionist to maintain a healthy diet which will ensure safe fasting.

Also Read: All ‘rozedars’ are reaping these awesome benefits of intermittent fasting

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5. Exercise moderately

Moderate exercise such as walking or jogging is encouraged but ensure a good fluid intake. The doctor may recommend checking blood sugar levels before and after exercise. Avoid heavy exercise during fasting hours. Consult a professional to make sure you are getting the right amount of exercise.

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About the Author

Dr Eman Sheshah is a Consultant Endocrinologist at Kingdom Hospital and Consulting Clinics in Riyadh. ...Read More

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