Ramadan and Type 2 diabetes
A practical guide and tips for Muslims who are considering fasting for Ramadan, and who have Type 2 diabetes.
Ramadan represents a key event in the Islamic calendar for many Muslims. From Thursday 23rd April until Saturday 23rd May, Muslims can choose to fast, where they do not eat or drink during daylight hours until sunset. For people with type 2 diabetes, particularly those with symptoms of coronavirus, it’s best to seek medical advice before embarking on fasting.
As a person with Type 2 diabetes that is well controlled, you can feel well most of the time. Indeed, you may not consider yourself as an ‘ill person’. But, if you have Type 2 diabetes, it’s really important to decide whether to fast or not, and the implications of doing so, in discussions with your GP or Diabetes Nurse. Even during the coronavirus outbreak, it’s worth putting a call in with your healthcare professional to discuss fasting with them, and you can put in place a plan together.
If you have any symptoms of the coronavirus (a high temperature and/or a new, persistent cough), you are advised not to fast, as is usual for anyone with a serious illness.
During the holy month of Ramadan, Muslims often pray together, and break the fast with family and friends each day. This year, it’s really important that you stay at home, and observe the social distancing measures put in place by the government. If you’re not self-isolating, you can leave the home for essentials such as food and medicines, and for work (if you can’t work from home). It’s important not to meet up with people from other households, even if you don’t have the symptoms.
It’s important for everyone, including people with Type 2 diabetes, to remain active during this period of lockdown. As per government advice, you can leave the house to exercise, for example to go for a run, walk, or cycle.
If you and your healthcare professional have agreed that you can fast, but you become unwell during Ramadan, it might be a good idea to stop fasting for the good of your health. It’s possible to give Fidyah for days you are unable to fast or add time to the end of Ramadan. Once you are completely well, and following advice from your health care professional, you may be able to return to fasting. If you’re in any doubt as to whether you should stop your fast or not because of ill health, talk to a healthcare professional straight away for advice tailored to your situation and your exact symptoms.
If you would like to read more about advice for Muslims who are considering fasting for Ramadan, and have who have Type 2 diabetes, click here to download our booklet: https://www.better-living.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Better-Living-Ramadan-Booklet-English.pdf. This booklet is available in English, Urdu, Gujarati, Arabic and Bengali.
Diabetes UK also have advice on their website about fasting for Ramadan during the coronavirus outbreak: https://www.diabetes.org.uk/guide-to-diabetes/managing-your-diabetes/ramadan.
There’s also some great advice on the diabetes.co.uk website here: https://www.diabetes.co.uk/diet/ramadan-and-diabetes.html
Some medications work to lower your blood sugar levels. If you are fasting, these specific medications may cause hypoglycaemia. It’s important to discuss your medications with your healthcare professional if you are going to fast, so they can advise you properly.
It’s a good idea to talk to your GP or nurse first to ensure that your diabetes is well controlled, and to discuss the options that you have given a member of your household is showing symptoms of coronavirus, and what effect this may have on you.
If you have a blood glucose meter, you should carry on using it throughout the fasting period to keep an eye on how your body is doing. If your blood sugar drops to 4 mmol/L or below, you are hypoglycaemic and you will need to break your fast. Pricking your finger to test your blood glucose has no nutritional value and does not mean you have broken your fast.