Fasting and Diabetes

Fasting requires appropriate diabetes management
Fasting requires appropriate diabetes management

Periods of fasting are undertaken by a number of religions. 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 nutrition could cause harm.

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

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 (hypoglycemia) 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 dietitian.

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 doctor to discuss both diet and treatment during the fasting period.

Fasting and Judaism

A number of fasting days are observed in the Jewish faith. The most prominent day of fasting is Yom Kippur, known as The Day of Atonement and the holiest day of the Jewish calendar. The period of fasting on this day starts 20 minutes before nightfall on the evening before Yom Kippur and is broken after nightfall on the following day.

Given the medical implications of fasting for over 24 hours, people with diabetes may be permitted not to take part in the fasting.

Yom Kippur takes place on the 10th day of the Jeiwsh month of Tishrei and therefore the date in the Gregorian calendar varies from year to year.

Other days of fasting which may be observed include Fast of Gedalia (Tzom Gedalia), Tenth of Tevet (Asara B'Tevet), Seventeenth of Tamuz (Tzom Tamuz).

Fasting and Christianity

Whilst less widely observed in the Anglican faith, fasting may take place on specific days or people may decide to undertake fats on a voluntary basis. The Day of Atonement is one such day.

Partial fasts may be undertaken by some.

Examples of partial fasts include the Daniel fast which is the undertaking of a diet of vegetables, fruit and water.

Explore Fasting