Ramadan begins on the evening of Wednesday 22 March and Muslim communities in Britain and around the world will soon be making plans to prepare for the month of fasting. Ramadan brings the opportunity to revisit routines and think about your health, as well as the wellbeing of others.
Over 500,000 Muslims call north east London home and the NHS is here to help you enjoy a healthy and safe Ramadan.
This advice is particularly important for anyone who has diabetes, takes prescribed medicines or who needs a medical appointment during the holy month.
If you have diabetes
If you have diabetes and want to fast during Ramadan, please speak to your GP or diabetes nurse about the safest way to do this. If you monitor your blood glucose levels you should continue to do so while fasting. Diabetes UK has lots of advice on fasting and managing your diabetes during Ramadan, including tips on healthy eating and a factsheet in English, Arabic, Bengali and Urdu.
Taking prescribed medicines
If you are taking prescribed medicines, you should continue taking them during Ramadan, but check with your GP or pharmacist if the doses need to be adjusted or the times that you take them need to be changed.
Attending medical appointments
If you have a medical or vaccination appointment booked during Ramadan, it is very important that you attend. You can change the time of your appointment if you need to. The vast majority of Muslim scholars state an injectable vaccine does not invalidate your fast.
What to do if you become unwell while fasting
If you become unwell while fasting, do consider breaking your fast as is permitted on account of avoiding harm. Your local pharmacy can offer advice and some medicines, and this can help you treat your condition yourself at home. Pharmacists can also help you see the right person, if you need to see someone else. If you have a more serious illness, you should visit your GP practice website or NHS 111 online for advice. If you cannot access the internet, call 111 or your GP practice directly.
Please remember: many groups are exempt from fasting on account of harm to their health – including people who are unwell with a physical or mental illness or have a poorly controlled long-term condition; people who are very frail and weak; those who lack mental capacity; and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding fearing harm to their child. Speak to your imam if you are not sure, as there are alternatives to fasting every day in Ramadan.
Generally staying healthy
Ramadan is a great time to build up your self-control and give up smoking. Talk to your GP or Pharmacist if you are interested. There is also the NHS Smokefree website www.smokefree.nhs.uk/
Some other ways to stay well during Ramadan include: eating as healthily as possible when breaking your fast and avoiding sugary, fatty and processed foods; staying hydrated before and after fasting by drinking plenty of water and avoiding caffeinated drinks; and if you are able to, keeping active with some light exercise such as walking.
The Mayor of London’s free annual festival, Eid in the Square 2023, also returns to Trafalgar Square on 29 April.
- Ramadan fact sheet from the Muslim Council of Britain
- British Islamic Medical Association and Muslim Council of Britain Ramadan Safety Guidance
- British Islamic Medical Association advice on taking lateral flow tests during Ramadan
- British Islamic Medical Association advice on fasting and Covid-19 vaccinations
- Diabetes UK advice on fasting and managing your diabetes during Ramadan and factsheet in English, Arabic, Bengali and Urdu
- Diabetes UK tips on healthy food and drink choices during Ramadan
- Professor Partha Kar shares his advice about type 2 diabetes
- A selection of YouTube videos by Diabetes UK:
- Ramadan: Preparing and Participating if you live with diabetes feat, Lived Experiences | Diabetes UK – YouTube (40 mins)
- Ramadan if you live with diabetes with Moulana Azizur Rahman and Dr Waqas Tahir | 2023 | Diabetes UK – YouTube (25 mins)
- Ramadan: Preparing and Participating if you live with diabetes | 2023 | Diabetes UK – YouTube (13 mins)
- Ramadan: Preparing and Participating if you live with diabetes | Slideshow | 2023 | Diabetes UK – YouTube (slideshow only – 4.5 mins)