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Diabetes UK’s 10 top tips for managing diabetes and staying safe during Eid al-Adha

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Diabetes UK has shared its top tips to help the Muslim community living with diabetes stay healthy during Eid al-Adha.

During the ten-day run-up to Eid al-Adha, Muslims around the world will be preparing for the celebration. On Monday 19 July, many Muslims will fast, before three days of celebration begin on Tuesday 20 July.

Eid is a major occasion and celebrations involve lots of food which can create a challenge for people with diabetes, and even affect those at risk of the condition, but having diabetes doesn’t mean you can’t eat traditional festive foods. Just like everyone else celebrating, foods that are high fat and high sugar, such as barfi and rasmalai, can be enjoyed in moderation.

With Eid al-Adha falling the day after Covid-19 restrictions are lifted in England, Diabetes UK is also urging everyone to mark the occasion safely, and be mindful of those who have health conditions such as diabetes, who may have a higher risk of being seriously ill if they get the virus.

Diabetes UK’s top tips for enjoying Eid celebrations are: 

  1. Check your blood sugars: If you usually check your blood sugar levels, don’t forget to check them more often during the festivities to make sure they stay within the target range.
  2. Think about portion size: Be mindful of portion sizes, especially when it comes to carbs, as the amount of carbohydrate you eat will affect your blood sugar levels.
  3. Use healthier cooking methods: Instead of frying, try baking, grilling or dry frying food. You could also try and use rapeseed or sunflower oil in your cooking instead of ghee, butter and coconut and palm oil.
  4. Choose healthier carbs: Try cooking with wholegrain basmati instead of white rice: Wholegrain basmati rice will be absorbed more slowly and can help keep blood sugar levels more stable.
  5. Get your fill of fibre: Pulses such as chickpeas, beans and lentils are high in fibre and don’t affect your blood glucose levels too much, making them a great swap for processed and red meat or potatoes, and keeping you feeling full.
  6. Choose healthy desserts: If you’re having a dessert, try making small changes to your traditional recipes to make them healthier. Fruit salad or chaat with plain yogurt sweetened or a small handful of nuts is a great alternative.
  7. Support loved ones with diabetes: As you plan your meals, be mindful of friends or family members who are living with diabetes and take the time to check in with them. Provide heathier options and small portions of less healthy dishes to make it easier for people to choose wisely.
  8. Fill up on veg: Make sure you fill your plate with tasty salads and vegetables, which are a great source of fibre, vitamins and minerals.
  9. Choose your drinks wisely: Swap sugary drinks, energy drinks and fruit juices for water, plain milk, or tea and coffee without sugar.
  10. Enjoy yourself: Eid is a time to enjoy yourself and have treats that you wouldn’t normally have. Being a time of indulgence and celebration, many traditional foods tend to be higher in saturated fat, sugars and salt than our usual diets. But a slight break from the norm is to be expected, so enjoy it, then get back on track once the festivities are over. 

Dan Howarth, Head of Care at Diabetes UK, said:

“Eid is a time of celebration, which can be difficult for people living with diabetes, but we hope Diabetes UK’s top tips on managing diabetes will help those with the condition to keep safe and well, while enjoying the festivities.

“Ultimately, it is a personal choice whether or not to fast, and it’s important to remember that people living with diabetes are not required to fast. However, if you do choose to fast, then you must consult your doctor or healthcare team, to make sure that you are able to look after yourself properly.

“We encourage those living with diabetes and their loved ones to keep safe during Eid celebrations. As restrictions change in some parts of the UK, it’s important to stay safe and keep in mind those who have health conditions such as diabetes, that could put them at greater risk of serious illness if they get the virus.”

For more advice on how to achieve a healthy, balanced diet – including recipe inspiration and cooking tips and tricks – download Diabetes UK’s free Enjoy Food South Asian guide, which is accessible in combined English, Urdu and Gujarati and aims to support South Asian families with diabetes to shop, cook and eat well. 

Find more information about fasting and diabetes at diabetes.org.uk/fasting

You can also find out more in Diabetes UK’s Learning Zone.

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