During the holy month of Ramadan, devotees fast for the entire day, not eating or drinking anything from dawn to dusk. After sunset, those who are fasting can break their fast as part of the Iftar celebrations. It is difficult to live without food or drink for 30 days in a row, especially when it is hot and humid. On the other hand, people suffering from diabetes must take extreme care and follow a strict meal plan to keep their blood sugar levels under control. Considering the nature of fasting and the dietary content allowed during this period, diabetes management during fasting is a fine line to walk.
Dr. Jyotidev Keshavdev, Chairman and Managing Director of Jyotidev’s Diabetes Research Center says, “Diabetes is a condition that requires regular monitoring and ensuring that your blood sugar levels are in the normal range and as low as possible. Minimizes fluctuations. People suffering from diabetes need to be constantly monitored during Ramzan as they are fasting for more than 10-12 hours.
Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) devices are available to help individuals with diabetes understand their glucose profile over a 24-hour period. The continuous glucose monitoring solution lets you avoid the pain of frequent pricks while being much faster and more accurate. There are wearables like FreeStyle Libre that provide glucose readings in real time, so you can see the glucose trend during iftar and sehri. It is equally important to have a balanced diet and lead a healthy lifestyle during fasting.
Here are some tips for diabetics to fast during Ramadan:
Inclusion of food during Iftar and Sehri
Start the iftar meal with simple carbs that the body can quickly absorb, such as 1-2 dates or milk, and then move on to complex carbohydrates like brown rice and chapatis. During Sehri, whole grains and vegetables can be consumed as late as possible. On the other hand, lean proteins such as fish, tofu and nuts have a higher energy content. Lastly, a glass of milk or a piece of fruit before bed can help keep sugar levels stable until morning.
Maintain your exercise program during the fast, but reduce the intensity of your workouts. If training is too demanding, focus on gentle exercises like yoga or walking. When there is a caloric deficit, such as during Ramadan, resistance training can help prevent muscle loss.
Getting enough rest is important. Lack of sleep alters hunger hormones, making it difficult to avoid eating large amounts of high-calorie items during the eating window. Sleep is also beneficial for the metabolic process, as it has been found to help with blood glucose balance, which is important for the treatment of diabetes.
While it is up to individuals with diabetes whether or not to fast during Ramadan, if they do, it is equally important to plan and prepare ahead of time for a safe and successful festival. Also, if your blood sugar drops, you should visit your doctor for proper treatment.