The holy month of Ramadan is almost here and Muslims from all over the world will observe the fasting from sunrise till sunset for an entire month and conclude it with Eid-ul-Fitr celebrations. The first day of Ramadan is likely to be on April 2, Saturday. (Also read: Ramadan 2022 timetable: Ramzaan date this year, sehri and iftar time in India)
Ramadan fasting is of great significance to Muslims and is considered one of the five pillars of Islam. Those observing the fasting do not eat or drink anything from morning to evening and break their fast as part of Iftar ritual at sunset.
Diabetes patients need to take extra care during Ramzaan fasting and follow a proper diet routine to control their blood sugar levels and avoid risk of hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar) or hyperglycaemia (high blood sugar). It is important for them to eat a balanced diet at suhoor and opt for low glycaemic index foods. Iftar meals can be broken into small portions by diabetics and sugary treats and fried foods must be avoided by them.
“Once may able to fast safely during Ramadan if they understand the risks, manage their diabetes and carefully follow the doctor’s recommendations. It’s important to talk with your medical team about medication, diet and physical activity which needs to be tailored as per the routine,” says Sujata Sharma, Senior Diabetes Care Coach, BeatO App.
“It is very important to have the correct food intake during iftar. Once you break your fast in the evening, eat small, healthy and nutritious meals. Include fruits, vegetables, pulses and curd in your diet. The key is to consciously choose not to break the fast with foods that are deep fried or laden with sugar. After you break your fast, drink healthy fluids. Apart from water one can opt for options such as nimbu pani, buttermilk, unsweetened lassi and plain milk. Avoid drinking sherbet, fruit juices or packaged drinks,” says Dr K D Modi, Endocrinologist, Care Hospital, Nampally, Hyderabad.
“Diabetic patients should frequently check their blood sugar during fasting days and consult their doctor at the slightest doubt. Continuous glucose monitoring systems help record glucose level fluctuations through the day corresponding to meal patterns, its timings and physical activity,” adds Dr Modi.
Here are some of the healthy fasting tips during Ramadan suggested by Sharma and Dr. Meghana Pasi, Nutrition Consultant MyThali program, ArogyaWorld.
● Keep yourself hydrated by having some coconut water, lemon water or even normal water at the start of the Suhur or Sahari. Have at least 7-8 glasses of water at iftar and suhoor.
● Do not skip your meal at suhoor. Have a well-balanced meal in the morning and adjust your dose of insulin and medication as per the recommendation of your doctor.
● Opt for low glycaemic index food options such as baked snacks or fruits, yogurt and milk at the time of Sahari and post breaking you fast. Prefer carbohydrates with low glycaemic index like brown rice, multigrain atta, millets and vegetables than white rice, potatoes and maida.
● Instead of consuming snacks and meals at one go after breaking your fast it is better to divide your iftar meal into healthy snacks and then a major high protein low carb diet.
● Prefer a piece of fruit, handful of nuts, or vegetables as snacks. Fruits and vegetables are rich in vitamins, minerals and fiber. Fiber not just keeps our bowels healthy but also regulates blood glucose levels.
● Avoid strenuous exercise during the fasting season as this could cause hypoglycemia. A small walk post meal will help in improving post meal spikes.
● Avoid sugary treats and fried foods. Choose healthier cooking alternatives like baking and grilling for food preparation. You can opt for baked or grilled chicken. Stick to smaller portions of sweets. Use sugar free alternatives like figs, dates, fruits, cinnamon.
● Protein is slowly absorbed than carbohydrates and gives a feeling of fullness. Include milk, curd, paneer, dals, whole pulses, fish and lean meat. Nuts, oily fish, olive oil are excellent sources of healthy fats and help to increase HDL (good cholesterol).
● Wear light clothes to avoid excessive sweating which can lead to dehydration. Avoid going out in sunlight.
● Keep check on portion size. Avoid consuming large portions at one go.
● Break your fast immediately or treat yourself with glucose tablets immediately if your blood sugar levels went below 70 mg/dl.
● Chalk out a possible plan with your diabetes educator or dietitian to avoid any hypo and hyperglycaemic episodes.
● Monitor your sugar levels regularly throughout the day to ensure you avoid a hypoglycaemia attack.
Here are some tips by Sharma to keep your energy levels high during Ramzaan fasting:
● Meditation, light yoga or walks are great forms of physical activity to keep your body active and boost energy levels.
● Avoid overexertion during the day and being out in the heat all day.
● While the body is devoid of the food it needs, it becomes even more important to get adequate sleep. Half-hour power naps adequately address this, leaving us refreshed and rejuvenated.
Dos and Don’t for staying healthy during Ramadan fasting for diabetes by Sujata Sharma, Senior Diabetes Care Coach, BeatO App.
Regulate blood sugar levels
Regular monitoring is essential to avoid any hypo and hyperglycemic events. It is recommended to check your blood glucose levels before and after suhoor and iftar. In case you have any symptoms of low sugar, get yourself checked immediately and if levels are below 70 mg/dl, immediately break your fast and have glucose or sweet to bring your sugar back to normal.
Breaking fast with khajoor
If it’s necessary to breakfast with dates then you can have a bite or one date and then can proceed with a low carb and high protein diet snacks and meals as recommended by your educator or dietitian.
Breaking the fast: Roohafza or lemonade?
Roofafza is a sweetened drink and it is better to avoid it as it can spike your sugar levels. You can opt for healthy options like lemonade without sugar, fruit smoothie or low-fat cold coffee without sugar.
Medication while fasting
One should speak to their doctor about the medication and correct medication timings. Please make sure not to take any medication or insulin on empty stomach as this may lead to hypoglycemic events.