Qatar Diabetes Association (QDA) has issued a number of guidelines for people with diabetes who decide to fast during the holy month of Ramadan. People with diabetes should frequently do a blood sugar test, especially in the first week of Ramadan to make sure their blood sugar level is in the desired range. Doing a blood sugar test does not invalidate fasting.
If a diabetic person feels any symptom of low blood sugar, or if the blood sugar test result is less than 70 mg/dl, the fast should be broken immediately. To avoid dehydration and protect the kidneys when living with diabetes, patients should drink plenty of water between Iftar and Suhoor.
Since juices, dates, pastries and desserts cause a sharp increase in blood sugar level, diabetics should try to avoid them or control their intake.
Given that family support during Ramadan is very important, it is advisable for the whole family to adopt healthy food choices and maintain an active lifestyle. Carbohydrates affect blood sugar levels the most – be aware of the amount one consumes in order to avoid a high effect on blood sugar. Carbohydrates are found in rice, pasta, bread and pastries, starchy vegetables, legumes and pulses, fruits and fruit juices, sweet beverages and desserts.
Food with excessive amount of fat, such as fried food and desserts, cause a prolonged rise in blood sugar. Try to make meals less fatty. For example, sambousa and qatayef could be grilled instead of frying.
People with diabetes who use insulin injection are advised by medical and religious leaders not to fast (especially children and pregnant women), to avoid any risk of acute complications such as hypoglycemia, hyperglycemia and Ketoacidosis.
People with diabetes are encouraged to discuss with their physician the right steps to take when fasting. Generally those who use medication or diet therapy and have a stable blood sugar level can fast safely by following physician advice and monitoring blood sugar more frequently.
To remain well hydrated it is preferable that diabetics decrease the intake of caffeine or coffee, tea, and soft drinks which might increase the frequency of urination.
To reduce the risk of low blood sugar during fasting, the Suhoor meal must include protein such as cheese, yoghurt and egg and food items that are rich in fibres, such as: oats, beans, lentils, chickpeas.
Vegetables are healthy and low in calories with a good effect on blood sugar. Include it in every meal or snack. Keep portions small to moderate to avoid weight gain during Ramadan.
People with diabetes should always test their blood sugar before driving, especially while fasting, to make sure they do not have low blood sugar. Before Ramadan, diabetics should check with their doctor/health educator whether they are allowed to fast, and how to adjust medication if allowed to fast.
Physical activity should be avoided during fasting hours, especially before Iftar time, and avoid sleeping for a long time while fasting, especially in the afternoon period and before Iftar time.
It is advisable to delay the Suhoor meal as much as possible, in order to avoid having low blood sugar during fasting hours. Diabetics ought to always carry glucose tablets, juice or candy to quickly treat low blood sugar while praying Tarawih at the mosque.
Since monitoring blood glucose level is very important at all times during Ramadan, diabetics should keep their blood sugar testing machine close to them. They should try to maintain blood sugar level between 100 – 200 mg/dl during fasting hours to avoid hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia.
QDA hotline can be contacted during Ramadan on 44547311 or 55274919 from 8am until 1pm. For medication instruction or more information, QDA doctors can be reached on 55981331 from 8pm until 11.30pm.
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