Tips on how to prepare to fast safely for people with diabetes

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An expert at Mubadala Health’s Imperial College London Diabetes Centre (ICLDC) gives her top 5 tips on preparing to fast safely with diabetes

Dr. Farhana Bin Lootah, an Internal Medical Consultant at ICLDC

People with diabetes will need to take a few extra precautions while fasting but, provided they have been medically cleared to fast, there is no reason they shouldn’t be able to do so healthily, says an expert from Imperial College London Diabetes Centre (ICDLC), a Mubadala Health partner.

Dr Farhana Bin Lootah, an internal medical consultant at ICLDC, has the following tips in the run-up to Ramadan for anyone with diabetes who is preparing to fast: 

1. Consult a physician

  • Some people with diabetes are advised not to fast, so you will need to ask your doctor whether it is safe for you.
  • Your doctor or diabetes care team will advise you on how to adjust your medication or insulin doses and help you to adjust your eating plan to align with Ramadan fasting and eating hours.
  • Even if your doctor has given you the all-clear, it is important to contact him or her if you are not feeling well while fasting, especially if you are on prescribed medication.

2. Space out your meals

•     Resist the urge to eat continuously from iftar until just before fajr. It is a good idea to pace your mealtimes during the non-fasting hours.

•     At iftar, break your fast with a light snack such as water and dates, then about an hour later, eat a full meal, and next, just before fajr, eat suhoor. If you are hungry in between, you could have one or two small snacks such as a piece of fruit, a handful of raw nuts, or one cup of yoghurt with no added sugar.  

•     Do not skip iftar or suhoor.

3. Choose food wisely

•     Eat protein with each meal as it increases your feeling of being full. Your dietitian can help calculate your protein requirement.

•     It is advisable to include fruit, vegetables and yoghurt in your meals.

•     Choose healthy fats such as avocado, olive oil, and fish.

•     Opt for complex carbohydrates such as wholegrain bread, nuts and brown rice which are digested slowly, rather than simple carbohydrates such cakes, white bread and pastries which can lead to blood sugar spikes.

4. Rehydrate well

•     Drink plenty of fluids (sugar-free), particularly water, to avoid dehydration. Water, fibre and exercise are key to avoiding constipation during Ramadan.

•     Don’t be tempted to reach for a drink with high sugar as a sudden surge of sugar in your system could result in a state of high blood glucose levels that may require hospital treatment.

5. Plan to incorporate moderate exercise into your day

•   Moderate physical activity every day is a healthy option.

•   Walking is one of the most recommended activities for patients.

•   Avoid excessive exercise when fasting.

  • Mubadala Health facilities offer telehealth services across many specialties for the convenience and safety of elderly patients and those with chronic conditions.

About Mubadala Health:

Mubadala Health is the integrated healthcare network of Mubadala Investment Company. Established 2021, Mubadala Health operates, manages, and develops a portfolio of healthcare assets including: Abu Dhabi Telemedicine Centre (ADTC), Amana Healthcare, Capital Health Screening Centre (CHSC), Healthpoint, Imperial College London Diabetes Centre (ICLDC), and National Reference Laboratory (NRL). In addition, Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi is an integral part of Mubadala Health. With a vision to transform the regional healthcare landscape, Mubadala Health sets a new benchmark for the UAE and regional healthcare industry through its state-of-the-art facilities and world-class caregivers who strive to put patients first across its continuum of care. Innovation, research, and education are the foundational pillars of Mubadala Health, supporting the further development of a sustainable healthcare sector in line with the vision of Abu Dhabi and the region.

Mubadala Health is on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn with the handle: @mubadalahealth.

About Imperial College London Diabetes Centre:

Imperial College London Diabetes Centre (ICLDC), a Mubadala Health partner, is a state-of-the-art outpatient facility that specialises in diabetes treatment, research, training and public health awareness. In just over a decade, the Centre has gained international renown for its holistic approach to the treatment of diabetes and related complications that enables patients to receive the full spectrum of care they need in one place.

With more than 80 diabetes professionals and endocrinologists under one roof, ICLDC offers best-in-class medical attention from first diagnosis to disease management across 11 specialist practice areas including adult and paediatric endocrinology, treatment of metabolic and electrolyte disorders, pre- and post-bariatric surgery care, heart disease prevention, nutritional advice, diabetes education services, ophthalmology, nephrology and podiatry.

ICLDC was established in 2006 in Abu Dhabi by Mubadala in partnership with the UK’s Imperial College London to address the growing demand for diabetes care in the UAE. The centre now operates three branches across Abu Dhabi and Al Ain, touching the lives of more than one million people through patient-centric programmes and public health initiatives. In 2007, ICLDC launched Diabetes. Knowledge. Action, now the longest running public health awareness campaign in the country. The initiative promotes an active lifestyle through an ongoing calendar of events for the whole community – Major activations include an annual walkathon that coincides with the World Diabetes Day in November.

ICLDC holds the Joint Commission International (JCI) Clinical Care Program Certification in Outpatient Diabetes Management and JCI Accreditation for Ambulatory Care.