How to Manage Diabetes during Ramadan

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Studies had showed that 50–60% of people who fast maintain their body-weight during the month of Ramadan, while 20–25% either gain or lose weight. The common practice of ingesting large amounts of foods rich in carbohydrates and fats, especially at the sunset meal, should be avoided. Because of the delay in digestion and absorption, ingestion of foods containing “complex” carbohydrates (slow digesting foods) may be advisable at the predawn meal, which should be eaten as late as possible before the start of the daily fast. It is also recommended that fluid intake be increased during non-fasting hours.

Traditionally the fast is broken (Iftar) after sunset and begins with the eating of dates and drinking water. Nutritionists advise to limit number of dates eaten to 1-2 each evening and to drink plenty of water and sugar free beverages throughout the evening, but avoid caffeine beverages as they can be dehydrating.

Diabetic patients need to refrain from food that is high on sugar and sweets during Suhoor. They must depend on fruits, fresh vegetable salads without oily dressings, lentils, yoghurt, whole serial, steam cooked or boiled vegetables with no or less of oils/fats, non-vegetarian items grilled or steamed.

Diabetic patients are urged to delay their Suhoor meal to the maximum time limit permitted, and hasten to break their fast at the beginning of the stipulated time. At Iftar and after it, diabetic people are encouraged to drink sugar free drinks, fruit juices and water to quench thirst and to compensate for any water and electrolyte deficit that would have occurred in the daytime.

Sweets may be popular dishes in Ramadan, but they aren’t advised as they can cause an increase in blood sugar levels. If you wish to consume sweets or ‘white carbohydrates’, it may be best to stick to much smaller portions of these. If your blood sugar levels become considerably raised as a result of these meals, it may be best not to continue with the fasting. The Suhoor meal should contain a balance of whole grain sources of starchy carbohydrates as well as some protein and fat to help slow the digestion and help the feeling of fullness last as long as possible into the day.

Most health problems are likely to arise from inappropriate diet or because of over-eating and insufficient sleep. Thus, moderation in eating is the key to good health. Discuss a plan with your dietitian. Keep sensible portions in mind and follow the same guidelines for healthy eating that you do the rest of the year with an emphasis on whole grains, lean sources of meat, fish and poultry, small amounts of heart healthy fats and limit added sugars.

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