Managing blood glucose levels during Ramadan

Managing type 1 diabetes during Ramadan

The Islamic holy month of Ramadan is taking place. This is a time for spiritual reflection, good deeds and spending time with family and friends. It also means not eating or drinking during daylight hours. 

Here Hamza Yousaf,  a 21-year-old law student from Bradford who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of five, talks about how he manages the condition during Ramadan.

“During the holy month of Ramadan, Muslims from all corners of the earth fast between sunrise and sunset.

The daily routine for a Muslim during Ramadan consists of waking up before sunrise and eating, then consuming no food or water all day until eating again after sunset.

This year Ramadan is taking place in May and June, and as a result of the longer days the time period for the fasting can be more than a staggering 17 hours a day!

For someone with type 1 diabetes who is a Muslim, this is where the control of my diabetes really gets tested.

So, how do I manage my type 1 diabetes during Ramadan? Well, at sunrise, when the fast closes, I try to eat a slow-releasing carbohydrate in order to give my blood glucose levels the best chance of remaining stable throughout the day.

However, as you will probably already know, blood glucose levels when you have type 1 diabetes can be unpredictable at times, so this does not always work.

So, whenever I have a hypo in Ramadan (and I have had a few) I break my fast and try to keep one the next day, with no hard feelings as scholars have argued that it is permissible to break your fast in these circumstances.

I also like to keep my blood glucose levels slightly on the high side in Ramadan and then around five hours before the fast opens I take a correction dose of insulin to ensure my blood glucose levels are stable.

This year I also have exams in Ramadan for my Masters and this is the first time I have had exams during Ramadan. Due to the risk of getting a hypo in the exam I will most likely not keep a fast on exam days.”