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How to manage Type 1 diabetes when observing Ramadan

How to manage Type 1 diabetes when observing RamadanRamadan begins on the evening of Friday 26th May 2017 and ends on Saturday 24th June 2017, observed as a month of fasting for Muslims around the world. Fasting is intended to teach Muslims self-discipline, self-restraint and generosity. It also reminds them of the suffering of the poor, who may rarely get to eat well.1

Whilst fasting is obligatory for most adult Muslims, if you’re managing Type 1 diabetes then you can be exempt from participating in Ramadan along with pregnant women, the elderly and children, and you can complete your duties in other ways such as giving money to charity or providing food to the poor. Speak to your local Imam for more information about this, or use Muslim charities such as Islamic Relief, Islamic Aid, and Muslim Aid.2

However, if you are keen to participate in Ramadan then we recommend you consult your healthcare professional before fasting begins to ensure you have a support system in place, and have your evening food and drink choices prepared. As always, ensure you continue monitoring glucose levels throughout the day – visit Diabetes UK’s website  for more information on testing.

According to the Muslim Council of Britain choosing to fast is “… a personal decision that you should make with advice from your diabetes team”2. If you do choose to take part, then it’s a good idea to include more slowly absorbed foods (that have a lower glycaemic index) such as basmati rice, pitta bread, chapattis, and dhal just before you begin the fast. Fruits, vegetables and salad should also be included3. In addition you should avoid fried food such as paratha, puri or chips, as well as highly salted or sugary foods.2

They also state that fasting can put you at risk of dehydration, so it is vital that you are prepared and drink plenty of fluids at Suhur and after Iftar. You should avoid sugary and highly caffeinated drinks such as tea, coffee or cola, and moderate the amount of fruit juices you drink, as these can also be high in sugar.2

If you experience a hypo during periods of fasting it’s important to stop fasting and treat it immediately with fast-acting carbohydrates.4 Suitable treatments could include a sugary drink, sweets, pure fruit juice, glucose tablets or gel. Following this, you should have a slow-acting carbohydrate snack such as toast, cereal or a piece of fruit. This is to prevent your blood sugars getting low again, and always re-test your blood glucose levels 15-20 minutes after your snack.3

The FreeStyle Libre system makes it easy to check your glucose levels during Ramadan, as scanning doesn’t require lancets you can monitor more often.5 This is vital during periods of fasting as your blood glucose levels may drop too low.3

For more information on participating in Ramadan if you have diabetes then check out the NHS Ramadan health guide and always consult your healthcare professional.


1 http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/religion/islam/ramadan.shtml

2 http://www.mcb.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Ramadan-and-diabetes-A-guide-for-patients-2013.pdf

3 https://www.diabetes.org.uk/Guide-to-diabetes/Enjoy-food/Eating-with-diabetes/Fasting/

4 https://www.diabetesselfmanagement.com/diabetes-resources/definitions/fast-acting-carbohydrate/

5 Scanning the sensor to obtain glucose values does not require lancets. 


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