The Holy month of Ramadan begins on the evening of Thursday 23rd April 2020 and ends on the evening of Saturday 23rd May 2020. If you have diabetes, it’s important to understand the effects of Ramadan fasting on your blood sugar, which is why Sanofi put together this helpful guide. Ramadan Mubarak to all our community members who are observing Ramadan!
Effects of Ramadan fasting on your body
Fasting during the holy month of Ramadan is an important spiritual practice. However, major changes in your meal schedule and sleep patterns could take place. If you are diabetic, you may be wondering how Ramadan fasting is associated with certain risks.
During Ramadan, your normal diet changes considerably and you are less active physically during the daytime compared with other times of the year.
Eating large meals, often containing fried and sugary food, can have an impact on your blood sugar control. Please seek medical advice before deciding to go ahead with Ramadan fasting.
The key risks of Ramadan fasting for people with diabetes are low blood sugar, dehydration and high blood sugar.
Things to know and do to manage your diabetes during Ramadan
Know your risk:
As per the Holy Quran, there are groups of people who might make themselves ill by fasting. Based on medical and religious advice, it is recommended to visit your doctor 6 to 8 weeks before Ramadan to understand your risk category before deciding to fast.
Test your blood sugar often:
Changes in eating habits during Ramadan may affect your blood sugar, so it’s important to test your blood sugar often.
- People with very high or high risk (even if not fasting): Check blood sugar 3 to 4 times a day
- People with moderate or low risk: Check blood sugar 1 to 2 times a day
Adjust your medication during fasting:
Talk to your doctor to find out if you’ll need to adjust your medication. You may need to adjust the dose, timing or type of medication in order to reduce the risk of low blood sugar. For more information, please visit www.daralliance.org
Know when to break the fast:
It’s important to speak to your doctor for specific recommendations. But all people with diabetes should break the fast if:
- Blood sugar is less than 3.9 mmol/L (low)
- Blood sugar is more than 16.6 m mol/L* (high)
- You have symptoms of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), hyperglycemia (high blood sugar), dehydration or acute illness.
Exercise during Ramadan:
Perform regular light to moderate exercise. Intense exercise is not recommended during fasting because of the increased risk of low blood sugar and/or dehydration. Physical exertions involved in Tarawih prayers, such as bowing, kneeling and rising, should be considered part of your daily exercise activities.
Plan your meals:
You can follow the below dietary advice during Ramadan:
Tips to follow if you have diabetes during Ramadan
- Visit your doctor to check and protect your health. If your doctor advises not to fast, you will get the same thawab (use your license).
- Blood sugar measurements and insulin injections do not break the fast: they are important. It is your window to know your sugar levels and control your diabetes.
- Follow the Sunna by avoiding excessive eating.
- Have the Iftar as early as possible and Suhoor as late as possible.
- When the month of Ramadan ends, avoid over-eating of food (especially sweets) during Eid-ul-Fitr, as it may lead to high blood sugar.
- Visit your doctor after Ramadan to ask for help on changing your medication back to the previous schedule.
If you cannot fast, you can make up for missed fasting days by donating food or money to the poor as an alternative.
Contact your doctor and speak to your local Imam for more information about this.
Helpful website for managing diabetes during Ramadan
Visit www.daralliance.org for full educational support during the Holy month of Ramadan and beyond.
Mobile app to support diabetics during Ramadan fasting
Download the free DAR SaFA app (Diabetes And Ramadan for Safe Fasting) for ideas on what to eat, patient information and expert help.
Please share your experiences with us on Diabetic South Africans – we are here to support you.