Joslin Tips for a Safe and Healthy Ramadan

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For Muslims, the holy month of Ramadan is a time of spiritual reflection, increased devotion and worship. This year, it begins on June 28, 2014. Muslims are expected to put more effort into following the teachings of Islam. During this month, observant Muslims are expected to fast between sunrise and sunset. That means no food and water can be taken during that time.

In addition to abstaining from eating and drinking, Muslims also increase restraint, such as abstaining from sexual relations and sinful speech and behavior. The act of fasting is said to redirect the heart away from worldly activities, cleansing the soul by freeing it from harmful impurities.

Most people with diabetes are advised by their doctors not to fast. Those with type 2 diabetes who are at low risk for complications are sometimes permitted to fast. The Quran does not require people who are ill to fast and Muslim leaders cite the verse below:

“…Allah intends every facility for you. He does not want to put you to difficulties.” Quran Surah 2 Verse 185

Nonetheless, some Muslims who have diabetes insist on fasting, despite being advised not to by their doctors.

If you have diabetes and plan to fast during Ramadan, you may wonder how fasting will affect your diabetes.

The main risks for people with diabetes are hypoglycemia, hyperglycemia and dehydration. There is also the risk of overeating during the evening meals and weight gain during this time is not uncommon. With planning, treatment regimens can be adjusted and fasting can be done safely.

It is important that you discuss with your healthcare provider how to best prepare for Ramadan and how to stay safe during the holiday. If you have diabetes and are considering fasting during Ramadan, Joslin recommends that you meet with your health care provider, ideally two to three months prior to Ramadan, to learn whether or not you are cleared to fast, to obtain counseling, and to review recommended changes in the treatment and management of your diabetes. 

Click here for some common questions concerning Ramadan and their answers. Click here for resources for healthcare providers.

Joslin wishes those who celebrate Ramadan a Ramadan Mubarak!

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