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Jews with diabetes urged to plan for feasts and fasting

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Jewish people with diabetes need to plan ahead for the feasting and fasting during Rosh Hashanah, Simchat Torah and Yom Kippur this October, so as not to put their health at risk, Diabetes UK is recommending.

The charity says people don’t necessarily need to stop eating traditional festive foods involved in Rosh Hashanah (2-4 October) and Simchat Torah at the end of Sukkot (24-25 October), and even sweet foods, honey and alcohol can be enjoyed in moderation.

Prolonged periods of fasting could cause blood glucose levels to drop too low or rise too high which can be very dangerous for people with diabetes, as can the increased risk of becoming dehydrated. Yom Kippur, which starts on 11 October can be challenging as it involves a 25-hour fast.

Jewish law states that a person should not put their health at risk in order to fast. Diabetes UK urges anyone with diabetes who is keen to fast to discuss this with their healthcare professional and rabbi, ahead of the festival, so they have time to plan how they can fast safely. 

'Plan carefully what you will eat'

Dan Howarth, Head of Care at Diabetes UK, said: “You don’t need to deny yourself traditional festive foods just because you have diabetes, but you do need to plan carefully what you will eat and be aware of how a treat may affect your blood glucose levels. Enjoy small amounts of ordinary festive foods and balance this with healthier recipes and snacks.

“If you test your blood glucose levels, make sure that you have your testing kit with you and also some hypo treatments in case you need them, such as kosher Jelly Babies or dextrose tablets.

"The other important thing to remember is to stay active, as this will help you to manage blood glucose levels. One or two high blood glucose readings should not affect long-term diabetes control, but people should aim to avoid persistently high readings.

“Speak with your rabbi so they are aware of your situation, and with a healthcare professional to find out what is right for you. They can also advise you on fasting, and on how to ensure you eat properly either side of the fast if you do decide to do it, as well as if you will need to adjust your insulin management.

For more information speak to your healthcare professional or call the Diabetes UK Helpline on 0345 123 2399, or visit ourEnjoy Foodandour fasting pages

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