Dr Zain Gulzar, Consultant Endocrinologist, RAK Diabetes Centre
Diabetic patients need to take extra care during the Holy Month, says Dr Zain Gulzar, Consultant Endocrinologist at RAK Diabetes Centre
Ramadan is a month for abstinence and control of one's physical and spiritual desire. If properly managed, it can prove to be medically beneficial for health. The physical aspect can however be taxing on the human body. Here are some tips that may help:
- Drink plenty of water.
- Avoid having large meals. Rather, try consuming small frequent meals during non-fasting hours.
- Avoid excess sweets and oily food, especially when breaking the fast. Hunger pangs usually cause craving for sugars and carbohydrates. However, if you maintain discipline and not over indulge, it can promote a balanced insulin glucose response of the body and aid in weight loss. A balanced diet is the best.
- Dates are an excellent source of nutrition. However, they also have a very high glycaemic index and calorie value. Avoid overindulging if you suffer from diabetes. We suggest not more than two dates at a time (you can always have some more later).
- It is advisable to eat something at suhoor (early hours of the morning) rather than a late dinner so as to shorten the time during which food is abstained.
- It is recommended to exercise at least 90 minutes after a meal and not during the latter part of the fast when the body's energy stores are depleted.
- For those who take regular medications, there will likely be a change in the timing of taking your medication. Make sure that you keep some sort of reminder for yourself, and not forget your medicine. You can set an alarm, or ask your loved ones to remind you.
- A few days before Ramadan, limit intake of tea and coffee so that you can prepare your body to handle the absence of stimulants that can lead to unwanted withdrawal symptoms (like headaches and difficulty concentrating), especially during the early days of the Holy Month. For those who smoke, this is a good time to break the habit and quit.
- If you suffer from diabetes, you should ask your doctor whether it is safe for you to fast at all. A change in your medication may be necessary to avoid having any serious consequences such as hypoglycaemia (dangerously low blood sugars) during the day. Keep yourself well hydrated. If you are on any medications that may dehydrate you, you may need to change the timing of this medication or avoid it, but consult with your doctor first.
- If you suffer from any chronic illness and require frequent doses of medication during the day, do consult with your doctor first.