With Ramadan starting on 7 June this year, the long summer days will see people fasting for almost 18 hours a day.
This can be challenging for anyone, but even more so for people with diabetes. People with the condition are not required to fast during and can instead complete duties by offering charity or providing food to the poor. However, those who do choose to fast need to take particular care as fasting for this length of time will increase the risk of their blood glucose levels rising or falling, which can be very dangerous, and of them becoming dehydrated.
This is why Diabetes UK has specially trained volunteers to deliver training, tools and resources to help people with diabetes who are Muslim to decide whether or not they will fast, and to guide them as to how they can fast healthily if they do decide to.
Krishna Sarda, Engaging Communities Manager at Diabetes UK, said: “South Asian people are two to four times more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes and that means there will be lots of people with the condition who may think they have to fast for Ramadan. This is where our volunteers have such an important role to play, helping people to better understand what fasting entails so they can make an informed decision as to whether or not they will fast.
“While fasting is not necessary for people with diabetes, choosing to fast is a personal decision that is best made after speaking with both your Imam and your diabetes team. If you decide to fast, you may choose to postpone this until winter when shorter days mean you would not have to fast for so long.
“If you choose to fast during Ramadan, it is important to get advice from your doctor or nurse beforehand and sensible eating and drinking outside of fasting hours is vital.”
Olivia Djouadi, 44, from Bromley, is one of our trained volunteers who delivers these sessions. She has Type 1 diabetes and chooses not to fast during Ramadan. She says: “If you have a condition like diabetes and are on medication then you don’t have to fast – it is important for religious reasons to keep your body in good health.
“I was quite surprised how many people with diabetes who are Muslim didn’t realise that they could do other activities in place of fasting, such as feeding other people or volunteering. I always volunteer one morning a week in a nursing home and so I know I have made my contribution.”