Information for people on the diabetes prevention programme: Ramadhan and COVID-19
This article is for people who will be observing Ramadhan whilst on the Healthier You: Diabetes Prevention Programme, during COVID-19.
You have been making lifestyle changes on the diabetes prevention programme and it is important to continue these throughout Ramadhan.
What to eat during Ramadhan?
Fasting means refraining from food and water throughout the day. However, it is important to consider what to eat at Suhoor and Iftaar, think about the portion plate in your Eating well handbook. When you are eating, make sure you eat lots of fruit, vegetables and salad as well as:
- Lean protein
- Wholegrain carbohydrates
- Minimise foods high in saturated fats
- Minimise foods high in refined sugar
- Use small amounts of cooking oils and avoid fried foods
- Plenty of sugar-free fluid
- Be mindful of your cooking methods
You may be dehydrated when breaking your fast so drinking plenty of water will help. It is traditional to break fast with dates and a drink of milk or water; if choosing milk, consider skimmed or semi-skimmed milk rather than full-fat options. Make sure you don’t overindulge here; be mindful of your portion sizes (See you Eating well handbook). Remember that dates and milk contain natural sugars.
It can be difficult adjusting to your usual Ramadhan routine. Speaking to family and friends about it can help so they understand and can support your choices.
It may also be helpful to have a menu set for yourself a few days in advance, so you are prepared to continue eating well at Suhoor and Iftaar. Consider what healthy snacks you can use if you would usually snack later in the evening as well. Planning your food can make sure you continue to eat well during Ramadhan.
Don’t skip Suhoor and don’t overindulge at Iftar
During Ramadhan, it is easy to become tired and not get up to have an adequate Suhoor. When fasting, it is important that you are disciplined in getting up and having a healthy meal for Suhoor.
Once it comes to the end of the fasting day, try not to overindulge, remember healthy portion sizes and use your Eating Well handbook to guide you. We can often overindulge in large portions and sweet foods when we break our fast, this can lead to weight increasing during Ramadhan. Try not to see Ramadhan as fasting and feasting. Eating a small amount at Iftaar and then again, a few hours later so we aren’t consuming large portions in one sitting; little but often.
Exercising during Ramadhan
Exercise is an important part of everyday life and this doesn’t have to stop because we are fasting. During Ramadhan, having lower energy levels and becoming dehydrated towards the end of the day is quite normal. Light to moderate exercise during Ramadhan, such as walking, is good for our physical and mental wellbeing.
Take this day by day; consider the first few days of Ramadhan as adjusting to fasting. Exercising during Ramadhan can often feel difficult compared to outside of Ramadhan, make sure your physical activity expectations are realistic. It is unlikely that you will see any improvements with regards to physical activity during Ramadhan. If you are trying to stay active, take it one day at a time and know when to take rest, not to overexert yourself.
Tarawih (night prayers) can be long and taxing on the body. During Tarawih, make sure you are staying hydrated. If you feel unwell or overly tired you can take a break or chose to sit and continue Tarawih. Tarawih is not a compulsory prayer – remember to listen to your body and take rest when needed.
Staying hydrated and sleeping well
Drink plenty of water at Suhoor and Iftaar. Any sugar-free drinks are also good options to help you rehydrate after a day of fasting. We often deprive ourselves of sleep during Ramadhan so we can stay up and pray Tarawih, so make sure you’re getting enough sleep when you can. Lack of sleep can lead to feeling hungry and not being able to focus as you may want to. This can mean that we pay less attention to portion sizes or are less likely to engage in an activity or take care of ourselves properly.
Ramadhan and Covid-19
It would not be advised to fast if you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, however, this would be a personal decision. Please seek advice from a healthcare professional if you are unsure of your symptoms or seek advice from the NHS 111 helpline.
During Ramadhan, we would normally interact with family, friends and the wider community daily. It is important to remember that it is different now, and this Ramadhan will be different. Staying connected is something that we can all do by:
- Have virtual Iftaars with family and friends (video call and breakfast together),
- Use online resources like lectures on social media e.g. Facebook, YouTube, Instagram etc.
- Check your local mosques social media pages to see if they are making content e.g. Live Quran recitations, short reminders or lectures.
- Contact your local mosque and suggest this if not,
- Decide to do this yourself with friends and family over the phone.
Not being able to attend the Mosque for Tarawih will make this Ramadhan difficult for many. You can still pray Tarawih at home in a small congregation of your household members or by yourself. Please refrain from inviting guests over or accepting invites as usual during Ramadhan. It is essential to remember that we must keep observing social distancing during this time.
Don’t neglect your 1 hour of daily exercise and make sure you go out for some fresh air; this can be a time to reflect during Ramadhan. A lot of Muslims use Ramadhan as a time to reflect and make lifestyle changes. In your ‘Taking Charge’ handbook, there are a number of places where you can write down your thoughts. If you have not received this handbook yet, then you may want to keep a journal. You can use the tools from the diabetes prevention programme in other areas of your life. Observing Ramadhan during the COVID-19 epidemic may bring new challenges, therefore it is important to look after your thoughts and mental wellbeing during this time.