Diet plays an important role in keeping our body healthy, especially for people with diabetes. According to Zohair Al Arabi, Clinical Dietitian at Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) diabetics can enjoy all that the festive season of Eid Al Fitr has to offer with careful planning.
The end of Ramadan and the beginning of Eid Al Fitr festivities can be a challenging time for many people with diabetes due to the risk of hyperglycemia caused by overindulging on sugary food and beverages. Al Arabi said that while overeating foods high in sugar, such as cakes, biscuits, and other sweets can lead to diabetes complications, it is possible for most people with diabetes to include desserts in their meal plan.
People with diabetes should limit sugar and sweets but this does not mean they can never eat dessert. Cakes and other desserts are part of traditional Eid celebrations for many families. Many of these desserts contain a large amount of carbohydrates in very small serving, so we advise diabetic patients to be mindful of portion size.
High-carbohydrate foods, such as bread, cereals, pasta, and rice are not forbidden, but they should be eaten in moderation. Balancing meals with lean protein and healthy fats, like grilled fish, is an important part of maintaining good blood sugar control and digestion.’
Staying hydrated is also important and Al Arabi recommends drinking water before meals, noting that it can help increase the sense of satiety and lessen the desire to indulge on heavier foods and desserts.
He said that while eating the right food, in the right quantities can help keep blood sugar levels under control, it is essential to take prescribed medications as directed. He said that diabetics should never adjust the times they take their medication, or the dosage, without their doctor’s approval. He also recommends diabetics check their blood glucose levels more often during special holidays and at times when their normal routine is altered.
Knowing and understanding the signs and symptoms of high and low blood sugar is essential. This is especially important during times when one’s diet is altered, such as during Eid feasts. The signs and symptoms of hyperglycemia, or high blood sugar, can vary from person to person but common symptoms include extreme thirst, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, shortness of breath, and weakness and tiredness.’
When caring for children with diabetes during Eid, Al Arabi recommends planning ahead and incorporating substitutions, such as low-sugar, low-fat desserts. He also recommends making fresh fruit a part of the dessert menu. He said that it’s important to check blood sugar levels regularly and to follow the doctor’s recommendations regarding medications.
The Ministry of Public Health, together with HMC and the Primary Health Care Corporation have partnered again this year to re-launch the Ramadan Health website, event expanding the initiative by introducing a companion smartphone and tablet app.
Introduced two years ago, the Ramadan Health website is Qatar’s first online resource devoted to health and wellness during the Holy Month. Visit the Ramadan Health website through this link, or download the app to your phone or tablet by searching for ‘Qatar Health’ (available for iOS and Android operating systems).
Visit the HMC website for more information about related services this season.