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Diabetes and Ramadan

Are you fasting this Ramadan?

Ramadan is running from March 22nd 2023 until Eid al-Fitr (21st April 2023). Although the Qur'an requires Muslims to fast there are a few exceptions to this, one of them being if you have a medical condition or are ill.

If you are diabetic you do not have to fast. However, if you chose to still fast you should speak to your healthcare team first to make sure it is safe to do so. If your diabetes is not on track before fasting then it is not a safe option for you to fast this year.

Risks of Fasting for people with diabetes

  • What type of diabetes you have
  • What types of medication you're prescribed for managing your diabetes
  • If you have any diabetic complications - heart and kidney disease, poor vision, nerve damage. It is highly probable that fasting would worsen these conditions
  • If your blood sugars are currently stable on average and in a healthy range for you
  • If the medication you take puts you ar risk for hypoglycaemia i.e. sulphonylureas and insulin

How to fast safely

Work with your healthcare team to create a plan so you can fast safely.

Your plan may include:

  • What to do if your blood sugar gets too low or high
  • Testing your blood sugar levels more regularly
  • Knowing the signs and symptoms of low blood sugar
  • Knowing what a high blood sugar level is for you. A low blood sugar level would be below 4 mmol/l and would mean you would need to break your fast
  • Adjustments to your diabetes medications (insulin or diabetes tablets)

Please note that it does not break the fast to test your blood sugar, but if your levels are too high or low you must break the fast.

If your blood sugar levels become to low or high you need to seek medical advise. If you are unable to contact your GP/diabetic team it would be advised to break your fast or call NHS 111/ use the NHS 111 online service.

At Suhoor and At iftar meal healthier options

DO NOT skip the suhoor meal (predawn meal). Food which is high in fibre, oats, buckwheat, bulgar wheat, or brown/wild rice have a low glycaemic index as they are absorbed into the blood at a slower rate. Beans, chickpeas, and lentils are also high in fibre but also have the benifit of being high in protein.

BE MINDFUL of portion sizes of food containing carbohydrates as these will help you manage your blood sugar levels whilst fasting.

DO drink lots of sugar-free and decaffinated drinks to help reduce dehydration throughout the day.

Did you know that two large dates provide around 20g of carbohydrates, equivalent to a medium slice of bread. Each evening the fast is traditionally broken by eating dates; why not limit the number of dates consumed to break the fast to one or open your fast with a glass of water?

Try to rehydrate with sugar free fluids such as water or milk drinks such as lassi or laban (good sources of calium and protein).

Limit the amount of sweet treats you enjoy, scub as baklava, barfi, or ramali as these are all high in fat and sugar, and only a small amount can have a large impact on your blood sugar levels. It is also recommended to limit the amount of fried and oily food you consume as they can lead to unintentional weight gain if you're eating them more frequently.

Eid al Fitr

Eid celebrations involve lots of food and can be a challenge for individuals with diabetes. You can still enjoy traditional festive foods but be aware of the sugar and carbohydrate levels as well as portion sizes to reduce the risk of high blood sugar levels.

For more information please look at: the NHS website (

Posted on Mar 22, 2023.

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