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Fasting and Diabetes

Definition - Fasting is a period of abstinence from food or drink or both.


Periods of fasting are undertaken by a number of religions or due to personal dietary choices. Fasting with diabetes requires careful diabetes management.

The reasons for fasting can vary as can the durations and the conditions of the fasting.

For reasons of health, people with diabetes may often be exempt from having to observe the fasting, or may be allowed more leeway in how they complete the fast.

Should I fast if I have diabetes?

It is best to fast only if you can be sure that the fasting will not cause any difficulties with your diabetes and your health. Religions will generally excuse people from fasting if the abstinence from nourishment could cause harm.

People with complications of diabetes, such as eye problems, kidney damage or heart trouble are advised not to fast.

Children, the elderly, pregnant women and people going through illness or disability may also commonly be exempt from taking part.


Diabetes treatment during fasting

Diabetes medication doses may need to be altered during a fast so it is important to check with your doctor before you begin the fast.

During the fasting periods, low blood sugar (hypoglycaemia) is a potential issue and can be dangerous.

The other potential for danger or difficulty is in the breaking of the fast. When hungry, it may be more difficult to control which food you take in. If sweet foods or larger amounts of carbohydrate are eaten than would normally be, then this could push blood sugar levels too high. 

Diet around periods of fasting

The way fasting is observed can vary between different religions. The length of time can vary quite significantly and some fasts may involve the eating of certain foods. If you are in doubt about the dietary aspect of the fast, arrange to speak with a nutritionist.

Fasting and Islam

Ramadan is period of fasting which lasts for a lunar month. During Ramadan, fasting is observed during the hours of sunlight. Although fasting during Ramadan is generally considered Fard (compulsory), people with diabetes may be exempt from having to fast if the act of fasting presents a danger to health.

Being a month long, Ramadan is a long period of fasting so anyone with diabetes who takes part in the fasting is advised to speak with a qualified professional to discuss both diet and treatment during the fasting period.

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