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Volunteers lead the way for innovative Ramadan project

A group of volunteers are leading the way in rolling out an innovative new project that aims to help Muslims with diabetes fast safely through Ramadan.

Diabetes UK volunteers have created a presentation that is available online and also for people to use in their local community to raise awareness about the issues around fasting through Ramadan. The presentation will be trialled in six London mosques in the coming weeks.

The Qur'an requires fasting during the month of Ramadan from sunrise to sunset, which this year begins around 9 July. People with diabetes do not have to fast during Ramadan, but if they wish to do so they are encouraged to speak to their Imam and healthcare professional.

Staying healthy during Ramadan

Jenne Patel, Diabetes UK Equality and Diversity Manager, said, "It’s fantastic to see volunteers leading the way in raising awareness of staying healthy during Ramadan. We are really pleased to be supporting volunteers to get out into their local community and raise awareness of the issues around fasting through Ramadan.

Potential onset of hypoglycaemia

"Although Muslims who have diabetes do not have to fast, many will choose to do so; our website has videos of two of our volunteers talking about their personal reasons to fast. The major problem during the fast is the potential onset of hypoglycaemia, also known as a hypo, when the body’s glucose level falls too low. Those who choose to fast should eat food that is absorbed relatively slowly, such as basmati rice, pitta bread, chapattis and dhal, before they begin the fast.

Choice of foods

"Choosing these types of foods and fruits and vegetables will help keep blood glucose levels more even during the course of the fast. It’s important to check blood glucose levels more frequently than usual so that people can, if necessary, break the fast if their blood glucose level drops too low. Many Muslims think that testing blood is considered breaking the fast, but this is not the case.

Breaking the fast

"How people break their fast is also important. It’s a good idea to break the fast with a handful of dates and a glass of milk or water. Choose healthier options such as vegetables and fruit. They should also try to eat these kinds of foods again towards the end of the feasting period, just before sunrise, and they should drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration."

Talking about fasting and diabetes

We have also created two short films of volunteers talking about living with Type 2 diabetes and why they have chosen to fast throughout Ramadan this year.

Jenne added, "Whether or not to fast during Ramadan is a question Muslims with diabetes agonise about each year. These discussions show two real people talking honestly about their condition and the reasons they have chosen to fast. We hope that these short films will encourage others to discuss their condition and come to a decision that is right for them."

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