In Islam, Muslims observe Ramadan for one month or 29-30 days. Since Ramadan is one of the Five Pillars of Islam and is considered to be the most sacred month of the year, many people with type one diabetes are determined to observe the holiday. However, depending on the geographic region of the person fasting, an individual may not consume food or water for up to 11-21 hours.
During Ramadan, hypoglycemia or the condition of having low blood sugar is one of the main challenges people living with type one diabetes and women who are pregnant face. Individuals with type one diabetes are encouraged to schedule an assessment with a healthcare professional six to eight weeks prior to Ramadan. In order to offer an informed suggestion of whether or not an individual should partake in fasting from dawn until dusk, healthcare professionals review medical history, glycaemic control, the risk of hypoglycemia and more. An examination by a physician is suggested so that people hoping to fast may hear if they are high risk, should self-monitor blood glucose or even abstain from fasting to avoid physical injury. People living with chronic health conditions, who practice Islam, may also make up the days they broke fast at a later date.
In addition, the Catholic Church requires its followers to accept Lenten fasting. Although, the Church exempts people from the obligation of fasting if they have medical conditions or chronic illness, like diabetes. Alternatively, people who are not fasting may choose to focus on prayer, serving others – positive deeds that are not necessarily made on an everyday basis or abstaining from meat on Ash Wednesday, Good Friday and all Fridays during Lent.
Yom Kippur is a fasting period which lasts for 25 hours. Water can be consumed sparingly during Yom Kippur. And avoiding caffeinated drinks one or more weeks before fasting may lower the risk of dehydration.
Jewish law exempts or forgives its followers with health conditions who cannot participate in fasting. People may also ask their Rabbi to consult with their medical professional about fasting.
For safety purposes, individuals with type one diabetes ought to consult with a healthcare professional before fasting. People living with type one diabetes may also ask their doctor about healthy first meals if they participate in days of religious fasting.
“Diabetes and Ramadan: Practical Guidelines.” International Diabetes Federation, Sanofi, Apr. 2016, www.worlddiabetesfoundation.org.