Taking care of her health means being able to take care of her parents
How does a diabetic manage during the fasting month?
Ask Madam Manisah Kamsani.
The 64-year-old retiree was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes after she suffered a stroke in 2004.
According to the Health Promotion Board's website, patients with type 2 diabetes are not producing enough or effective insulin, unlike patients with type 1 who do not produce any insulin because of damaged pancreatic cells.
While it can be controlled, the news still worried her.
“I felt so afraid when I received the news because my family has a history of having diabetes,” said the 64-year-old retiree.
“My mother had to get her right leg amputated because of her diabetes,” she added.
Not wanting the same thing to happen to her, especially because she cares for her elderly parents, Madam Manisah decided to change her eating habits.
“I used to just whack everything, especially durians,” said the self-confessed durian lover.
“Now, I eat balanced meals, because it is important to control my blood sugar level.”
According to Dr Matthias Toh, Public Health Physician at National Healthcare Group (NHG), the optimal blood sugar level for diabetics is between 4 to 8 mmol/L.
With her shopping basket, Madam Manisah can been seen regularly walking around her estate. TNP PHOTO: AZIM AZMAN
Madam Manisah's focus doesn't waver during Ramadan, when she fasts, like other Muslims, from sunrise to sunset.
In fact, during the fasting month, Madam Manisah takes extra care with her diet.
For example, she'll wake up early to cook a healthy pre-dawn meal.
“I will make simple dishes of boiled vegetable and maybe grilled fish, and eat that with a small amount of rice,” she said.
“It’s important for me to eat a balanced meal in the mornings because if I don’t my blood sugar levels will be low throughout the day."
Dr Toh does not recommend that diabetics skip the pre-dawn meal.
They should also avoid avoid eating fried foods and foods with high fat content.
He also said that despite their high sugar content, diabetics may eat one or two dates should they choose to break their fast with the fruit.
Madam Manisah credits the Care Managers at the NHG polyclinics with providing her with the necessary information to help her manage her condition.
A Care Manager is a registered nurse at a polyclinic who is assigned to a patient and works closely with the patient's doctor to ensure that can holistically manage a patient's condition.
They have eased her worries about her health, so she can focus on caring for her 90-year-old father and 91-year-old mother , whom she lives with in a flat in Ang Mo Kio.
Said Madam Manisah: “I want to be mobile and healthy so that I am able to take care of my parents.”
Dr Matthias Toh's recommendations for diabetics during fasting month
Consume a liberal amount of carbohydrates & high calorie food along with fresh fruits and green vegetables, pulses, multigrain & wholegrain with increased fluid intake during sahur, the morning meal during the fasting month.
1. Do not skip the pre-dawn meal.
2. Have a healthy and balanced meal with enough carbohydrates to avoid fasting for a longer period than necessary.
3. Choose sugar-free drinks. Make sure your fluid intake during non-fasting hours is adequate as this helps to prevent dehydration.
4. Avoid beverages containing caffeine since they increase the risk of dehydration.
5. Eat fibre-rich food, such as fruit, vegetables, beans and wholegrain products before fasting and when breaking fast. Examples of high-fibre carbohydrates include brown rice, thosai, chappati, wholemeal or wholegrain breads or biscuits.