Express News Service
During the holy month of Ramadan, many believers take up a devout fasting routine where they spend the entire day not eating or drinking anything.
The fast is broken after sunset, at Iftar. But fasting for 30 continuous days during summer could be challenging for everyone. For people with diabetes, this might be a time they need to take extreme caution to control their blood sugar levels. Diabetes management while fasting is walking a tightrope, given the long hours of fasting and the types of food they eat during the time.
Diabetes is a condition that requires regular monitoring of sugar levels. You need to ensure your blood glucose levels are in the normal range and minimise fluctuations as much as possible. During Ramadan, people with diabetes needs to be constantly monitored as they are fasting for more than 10-12 hours.
There are continuous glucose monitoring devices available now, that help people with diabetes understand their 24-hour glucose profile. One can use such systems to avoid the pain of pricking multiple times. They are also faster and more accurate. There are convenient wearables such as FreeStyle Libre that provide real-time glucose readings, thus showcasing the glucose trend during the fasting period and when you break it.
Having a balanced diet and following a healthy lifestyle during the fasting period are equally important.
Here are some tips:
Meal inclusions during iftar and sehri – Start the Iftar meal with food rich in simple carbohydrates and can be absorbed quickly by the body. For example, one or two dates or milk, followed by complex carbohydrates like brown rice and chapatis. During sehri, (early morning food before the fast begins) one can consume whole-grain cereal and vegetables. Take it as late as possible. Alternatively, one can opt for lean proteins like fish, tofu and nuts as they provide energy. Finally, a glass of milk or fruit before bedtime will help maintain sugar levels till the early morning.
Exercise routine: Aim to keep up with your exercise routine but reduce the intensity of workouts while fasting. If training is too difficult, take walks or do gentle exercises like yoga. Resistance training can help prevent muscle loss when on a calorie deficit diet.
Sleep Patterns: It’s important to get enough sleep. Sleep deprivation can impact hunger hormones, which makes it harder to resist large volumes of high-calorie foods during the eating window. Sleep is also important for the metabolic process, which has been shown to facilitate blood glucose regulation which is essential for diabetes management.
While it’s a personal choice for people with diabetes to fast during Ramadan, if you do decide to do it, it is equally important to plan and prepare yourself in advance to enjoy a safe and successful festival. And should your blood sugar drop, it is advisable to consult your doctor for appropriate treatment.
The author is chairman and managing director of Jothydev Research Center, Kochi