Tag: type1strong

What does Ramadan mean to a Type 1 diabetic?

Monday 6th of June, marked the beginning of the blessed month of Ramadan, which is observed during the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. During this month, Muslim’s fast from sunrise until sunset, when they are without food and without water.

Fasting-TIME-LINE-  So what does Ramadan mean for Muslim diabetics? What does that mean to me?

As a Muslim and a diabetic, I am exempt from fasting. Islam makes exceptions for those who are ill or on medication, for pregnant or breast feeding women etc.

Something you may not know about me, when I was first diagnosed it was also the very first time I tried to fast. I was excited to attempt the fasting and had set my mind to really giving it my all.

Day one was a struggle. I felt awful of course because I did not know that my diabetes had begun to manifest. I felt exhausted. I had an urge to drink constantly and why did I need to urinate so frequently? I hadn’t taken one drop of liquid all day. I slept and slept, but still could not find the motivation to do the things I needed to do. I thought to myself, maybe this is how the fasting was supposed to feel. It was was a struggle but I made it to the end.

Day two came and I felt like it was even more of a struggle than day one. I continued to tell myself that, this was how the fast was supposed to feel. The symptoms from the day before seemed to be amplified. I walked around with my eyes half closed from sheer exhaustion and a thirst like no other.  It completely drained me but I made it to the end of another day. I remember breaking my fast and consuming ridiculous amounts of water, juice anything to quench my thirst.

I had started to lose weight, my clothes were hanging off me. If you knew me then, you’d know how skinny and tall I was. Therefore any amount of weight loss was extremely evident. My Mother noticed the severe amount of weight I had lost and some of the symptoms I presented. She insisted that I stop the fasting. Even though I felt awful, I also felt sad to stop fasting. It pained me to think that I was not going to be continuing, but deep down I knew that I could not continue as I was. And as they say the rest is history, you can read my diabetes story in more detail here.

After my diagnosis and every year Ramadan came around, I found it hard to truly find my place.  Everyone in my family was fasting and I could not partake in the fasting so what else could I do?

I had to find other ways to be a part of this special month.  As I investigated and connected more with my religion, I began to understand that there were other aspects to Ramadan and that Ramadan wasn’t solely just about the fast itself. It was only one portion of the whole month.

 

So what did I learn?

  • Connecting with the Creator – One of the first and most important aspects that I learnt was, that for the entire month I had to try my best to live in an environment where I was more conscious of my creator, every second of the day. It was also a time for spiritual reflection and deep devotion of oneself to worship and pray to God     and to try my best to solidify my relationship with him. Reading as much of the Quran (the holy book for Muslims) and really taking my time to understand it properly.

 

  • Check yourself before you wreck yourself – It was also a month where I could evaluate my own behaviour and attitude towards myself and others. It taught me how to control my anger, ego, arrogance and to show humility and politeness, kindness and forgiveness to others (something I try to do every day, regardless of month).

 

  • Offerings – It was also a time to be generous and give charity (Zakat) to those in need. Because I wasn’t able to fast, with this aspect I give money to support someone (with food) in need for the entire month. It also became a time for me to strive to do as many good deeds as possible.

 

  • Leave off that bad language/ attitude/ everything – For those who know me, I don’t use bad language. I leave off the F and P’s and Qs and try to avoid it all together daily. However, during this time it is important that we aim to do these things and to be more aware of the language we chose to use. Staying away from desires and sins becomes very important for observing this entire month.

 

  • Brain training – One of the benefits of fasting is that it helps to repair and build new connections in the brain by generating new synapses and ultimately keeping the mind young. I have had to find other ways to challenge my brain to allow it to grow and strengthen itself and in turn keep it young. I do this by constantly learning new things, new languages (currently tackling Korean), reading on subjects I knew nothing about or reading around subjects in more detail.  

 

 So what are the benefits of fasting?

By fasting, it demonstrates our ability not only to conquer hunger but also our capacity to control psychological aspects of our behaviour, such as our reaction to things that we dislike. There are also many scientific benefits such as;

 

  • Speeds up metabolism – Fasting Intermittently, gives your digestive system a break whilst promoting your metabolism to burn through calories more efficiently. Intermittent fasts can regulate your digestion and encourage healthy bowel function, and therefore improving your metabolic function.

 

  • Fasting can improve your immune system – It does this by reducing free radical damage, reduces inflammatory conditions and also eliminates the production of cancer cells.

 

  • Improves Brain function – This fantastic lecture by Mark Mattson who is the Chief of the Laboratory of Neuroscience at the National Institute on Aging. He is also a professor of Neuroscience at The Johns Hopkins University, and one of the foremost researchers in the area of cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying multiple neurodegenerative disorders, like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease, outlines some of the benefits fasting can have on the brain.

 

  • Fasting for Clarity of mind and soul – Fasting is not just a practice for Muslims, many other religions also chose to fast,  just ike many members of my own family, who fast during Lent. It is a way to help many people feel connected to life by practicing things such as reading(holy text), meditating , performing yoga and martial arts. Because the body is deprived of food for a period of time this allows the body to make more energy. It gives the body a respite and a chance to heal and to reorder its systems. It allows us to feel better both physically and mentally (the mind is able to repair, develop new connections and reset itself).  With a lighter body and clearer mind we become more aware of our surroundings, our beliefs and of course our actions.

 

Amina xx

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Positivity Jar

Diabetes living is undeniably a struggle. It’s relentless and arduous in every sense. This life-long illness’ is far from enjoyable.

Many may say that diabetes does not define them, which is true. However, what is also true, is that it will always be present and  looming in the shadows. It’s almost like a force that you can’t escape. Repelling it would be detrimental to you in every way and embracing it would allow you to nurture and manage it better.

Yes, we have insulin, but insulin is not the cure that we all wait for with bated breath. The day that they announce that there is a cure, I dare say I probably won’t believe it.  Taking our insulin on a daily basis definitely helps us sustain. It is most certainly an asset to us, prolonging our existence. However, continuing with a frequent, restricted routine can be gruelling on the mind and body.

I must admit, many a time I’ve quietly felt fed up with diabetes, I’ve wished it away but also I’ve patiently endured the tests placed in front of me. It can be hard to remain positive about having diabetes but what I try to do is find things to keep me motivated and steer clear of any negative feeling which may creep in. Ultimately I want to be happy, healthy and live hassle free. I want to be the one in control of my health.

Also, I’ve realised that sometimes in order to gain that positivity it also means I have to occasionally have my down day. I mean everyone has a down day, diabetic or not.  So if you’re feeling down, then I say, just feel down.

The question is, what do you do to bring yourself out of this negative state you find yourself in? In that moment, at your lowest point try to find something that will help you or remind you about being in a happier mind-set.  Don’t let the negative feelings consume you.

D POSITIVITY JAR

Something which I started recently is my diabetes positivity jar. I basically write down all the things that keep me motivated. Things that have happened and have had a positive impact on me and things that keep me patient.

Keep track of all the positive

It could be a memory or memories, a picture/s or just a word. It’s totally up to you. Collect them in a jar or a box and when you feel down just sit and look through them.Look at them and remember that moment and how you felt about it. Be proud of the things you’ve achieved and the challenges you’ve overcome.

positivity-jar

Here are a few other things that I do to keep my mind positive.

  • Fitness – A big one for me is working out. This is a great way to release some tension and de-stress. Plus you’re getting fit in the process. You’re active, moving and taking charge of your diabetes. At the moment I’m following a workout programme called PIIT 28 by Cassey Ho. I will be doing a post on this once I’ve completed my first 28 days.

 

  • The Munchkins – My kids are another huge motivator for me. They keep me on my toes, make me smile and make me want to retain my health.

 

  • Loved ones – My support system – My family and friends are a great support system, when I’m feeling a little down. Don’t be afraid to share it with them, laugh, cry, talk it through with them but don’t hold it in.

 

  • Set realistic goals – Don’t let this condition take over your life and be a hindrance. Just because you’re diabetic it doesn’t mean you can’t do the thing syou want to do. Check out my two inspirational guest post, by Chirstel and Tobias from TheFitBlog and Angelica Chavez. They don’t let their diabetes get in the way. Don’t limit yourself. You are more than capable of doing so many great things. Let diabetes be that driving force which makes you see new things and do new things. Set realistic and achievable goals and push for them.

 

  • Be thankful – I’m thankful for the insulin that I’m so lucky to have access too. You can read my post on access to insulin. Many people around the world aren’t as fortunate to have access to insulin. Also I remember having to inject 5 times a day and it reconfirms my appreciation for both my insulin and my pump.

 

  • Control the D – Try to stay on top of the blood glucose taking, the insulin doses, everything. Take it one step at a time, find a routine that you’re comfortable with. Write down you sugars, make a note of patterns and adjust when needed (seek advice if you’re uncertain).

 

  • Change your environment – If you’re at home, take a long walk or drive. Whatever you choose, take that time to really de-stress and hash it out.

So my friends, please don’t give up. You can do this, have faith in yourself and remember things don’t change overnight. However, it has to start from somewhere. Try to surround yourself with positive people and begin to think positively about taking charge of your diabetes. If you work on your strength in mind and body, your strength can only grow. You are much stronger than you know.

POSITIVITY

 Amina xx