As Ramadan approaches, Muslims with diabetes may be thinking about whether or not they should fast.
This year, with the fasting month in the middle of summer in the northern hemisphere, from 29 June to 27 July, fasting periods could last more than 17 hours.
Diabetes UK is concerned that fasting over such a long time over so long a period could be dangerous or cause health problems for people with diabetes, particularly if they manage their condition with insulin or certain medicine as they may be at increased risk of dehydration and extreme high and low blood glucose levels.
They want to spread the message that if people with diabetes do decide to fast during this period – and they don’t have to – then they should eat food that is absorbed relatively slowly, such as basmati rice, pitta bread chapattis and dhal, before they begin the fast.
Diabetes UK say these types of foods and fruits and vegetables can help keep blood glucose levels more even during the fast. It’s important to check blood glucose levels more frequently than usual so that people can, if necessary, break the fast if their blood glucose level drops too low. Many Muslims think that testing blood is considered breaking the fast, but this is not the case.
It’s also a good idea to break the fast with a handful of dates and a glass of milk or water and to choose healthier options such as vegetables and fruit. People should also try to eat these kinds of foods again towards the end of the feasting period, just before sunrise, and they should drink plenty of sugar free fluids to avoid dehydration.
Muslims with diabetes who are deciding whether to fast during Ramadan should speak to their Imam and healthcare professional or call the Diabetes UK Careline on 0845 120 2960.
They can also download information on fasting safely throughout Ramadan at www.diabetes.org.uk/ramadan This will help them get the information they need to make the decision that is right for them.