Fasting with diabetes

minute read
July 24, 2023
Snacks laid out by a type 2 diabetic fasting for Ramadan.
Note: Image for illustration only. Photo credit - Naim Benjelloun.

As a diabetic who practises intermittent fasting, I’ve seen first-hand the benefit it can have on my blood sugar levels and overall health.

However, it’s not without its challenges.

What is intermittent fasting?

Intermittent fasting is a dietary approach that involves cycling between periods of fasting and eating. There are different ways to fast intermittently, but the most common is the 16/8 method – You fast for 16 hours, then eat within 8 hours.

I typically follow the 16/8 method. This means I skip breakfast and eat my first meal around noon.

What are the benefits of intermittent fasting for diabetics?

Intermittent fasting has several benefits for diabetics.

For me, it helped improve my insulin sensitivity – My body responded better to insulin, and this decreased my risk of developing diabetes complications.

Intermittent fasting also helped me lose weight. Losing weight is generally good for people with diabetes as excess weight can increase insulin resistance and make your blood sugar level harder to control.

What are the challenges of intermittent fasting as a diabetic?

Even though intermittent fasting can be beneficial for people with diabetes, it can also be difficult.

One of the biggest challenges is managing blood sugar levels during the fasting period. Skipping meals can cause your blood sugar level to drop too low, which can lead to hypoglycemia. This can be particularly dangerous if you’re alone or on the road (walking or driving) – To avoid this, while I’m fasting I carefully monitor my blood sugar level and adjust my insulin doses accordingly.

Another challenge is managing hunger and cravings. It can be difficult to resist the temptation to snack, especially during the first few days of fasting – I’ve found that drinking plenty of water and keeping myself busy can help distract me from my hunger.

Fasting and religious fulfilment

Fasting is a common practice in many religions, including Islam, Christianity and Judaism – During Ramadan, Muslims fast from dawn to sunset, while Christians often fast during Lent.

As a Muslim with diabetes, it’s important to me to fast and fulfil my religious obligations, while staying safe and healthy. To do this, during Ramadan, I monitor my blood sugar levels regularly, adjust my medication accordingly, and eat healthy, balanced meals during the non-fasting period.

Final thoughts

As a diabetic, I’ve found intermittent fasting helpful in managing my diabetes and improving my overall health.

However, it’s important to be careful when fasting and monitor your blood sugar level to avoid complications. With proper planning and management, fasting can be a rewarding practice for people with diabetes – And you can fulfil your religious obligations while maintaining your health.

Graphic of a female profile picture.

Maya is a type 2 diabetic who fasts for health and religious reasons. She fasts during Ramadan and also observes intermittent fasting. She believes fasting helps her manage her diabetes, and intends to keep practising it for as long as she can.

Editor's note: The opinions and experiences reflected in stories from the diabetic community belong to the authors, and do not necessarily represent the views of InDiabetes.

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