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July 7, 2001

Meal Planning, Food and Diet

Question from St Louis, Missouri, USA:

I am 13 years old and my religion supports fasting, but ever since I've had diabetes, I haven' t been able to fast because of a fear of low/high blood sugar. Is there a way to fast and still keep my blood sugars relatively in range?


Yes, but it can be tricky. You will need to really test and be ready to break the fast if needed. Since the risk is low blood glucose most of the time, don’t get so hypoglycemic that you go into a coma or seizure.

Need to have good control of highs and lows and be testing frequently Likely, Lantus (insulin glargine) (a new basal insulin) in combination with Humalog or Novolog might be helpful. I don’t think the fast can be more than a few hours, and certainly not days. Discuss these issues with your doctor.


[Editor’s comment: I have known many people who have diabetes and this dilemma. In some instances (and I know this is true for Judaism), religion places the health of the individual above the rituals — that is, people are not required to fast and can do this without any guilt. Some others I have known, say that they had used a modified fast. In this instance they substitute liquids (whole milk is good choice) for the duration of the fast. This allows them to at least partially participate in the ritual.

Since it appears that this concerns you a great deal, I would discuss the possibilities not only with your doctor, but also with your clergy and probably a dietitian as well. It might help to set up a conference among all of you together.