AVOID: Fried koekies rich in salt and sugar are unhealthy.
There is very little that can compare to the boeka treats on the table in a Muslim home during Ramadaan. From the poor to the rich, every effort is made to have something special to eat in the pwasa.

Very often you will find soup, daltjies, samoosas, pies, pancakes, bollas, koesiesters, cakes and falooda being served at Iftar time.

Now while it is the easiest thing in the world to take the “I deserve it” attitude after a long day of fasting, you should realise that not all of these foods are good for you.

In fact, many of the traditional pwasa kos are what some people - especially those with diabetes - should actually stay away from!

There are many Muslim diabetics around the world who want to fast, but for health reasons cannot.

They, like the sick, the elderly, children, travellers, menstruating and breastfeeding women, are exempt from fasting.

However, because fasting in the month of Ramadaan has such an intense spiritual effect on people, many who have chronic illnesses choose to fast, even if they do not do so every day.

Type 2 Diabetics, specifically, can be separated into three different groups when it comes to fasting:

  • Those who are on a diet only: There should be no problems for those who only need to control their diet in Ramadaan, should they fast. It is suggested, though, that they watch what they eat at Suhoor and Iftar times, and as usual stay away from the fatty foods and limit the calorie intake.
  • Those who are on a diet and tablets: These diabetics should consult their doctor or local clinic on what is the best way to take their tablet dosage in the morning and at night. If this is done correctly and the person eats healthily, then there should be no problems with fasting. It is, however, strongly suggested that even diabetics for whom this works, should consider only fasting on alternating days.
  • Insulin dependent: Diabetic patients who take insulin to regulate their blood sugar levels are generally advised not to fast, as there is a great risk of sugar levels going extremely low, leading to shock, a coma and even death.

Don’t be a hero, not if it is going to end up costing you your life.

Ramadaan was not intended for that.

Another common ailment which has to be carefully monitored during fasting is hypertension (high blood pressure).

Again, patients are advised to ask a doctor or pharmacist about how to best adjust their medication intake in order for them to fast every day.

Most high blood pressure medication such as beta-blockers, diuretics, long acting calcium channel blockers, etc. have a long duration of action and are therefore suitable drugs to be taken.

People suffering from epilepsy, asthma, angina and ulcers are all advised to consult their doctors on how to adjust their medication, so that their bodies may better cope with fasting.

Ramadaan is of course the perfect time to change your eating habits and start eating healthier.

When fasting, it’s best to avoid or limit foods containing too much sugar, fried and fatty foods.

Also avoid tea or coffee at your pre-dawn meal. The high caffeine content acts as a diuretic and will make you pass more urine, and in doing so takes with it minerals and vitamins the body needs during the day.

Instead, eat more of the following foods:

  • Dates are a rich source of fibre, potassium, natural sugar and carbohydarates
  • Almonds are rich in protein and fibre
  • Bananas are rich in protein and potassium
  • Drink as much water as possible

Like most things in life, fasting is best when done in moderation, especially where eating is concerned! Don’t overdo it.

Consult a doctor or pharmacist about how much of your meds to take at what time.

En as jy suiker het, skip maar daai fritters and pastries!

Wishing all our Muslim readers a lovely, healthy Ramadaan ahead.