Written by Dr. Shahid Athar   

ADA-food-pyramidDiabetes mellitus affects people of all faiths. Muslims are no exception. Many diabetic Muslims have a desire to fast during the month of Ramadan, although if they cannot for health reasons, they have a valid exemption. The dilemma for physicians and Muslim scholars is whether or not Muslim diabetic patients (1) should be allowed to fast if they decide to; (2) can fast safely; (3) can be helped to fast if they decide to; (4 ) can have their disease monitored at home; and (5) are going to derive any benefit or harm to their health. Fasting during Ramadan by a Muslim diabetic patient is neither his right nor Islamic obligation, but only a privilege to be allowed by his physician, at the patient's request, knowing all the dangers and assuming full responsibility in dietary compliance and glucose monitoring, with good communication between the physician and the patient .


Diabetes mellitus itself adversely affects patients' psychological states by changes in glucose metabolism, blood and CSF osmolality, needs for discipline and compliance, fear of long term complications and threat of hypoglycemic attacks and the possibility of dehydration and coma.

On the other hand, fasting during Ramadan has a tranquilizing effect on the mind, producing inner peace and decrease in anger and hostility. Fasting Muslims realize that manifestations of anger may take away the blessings of fasting or even nullify them.

Diabetics know that stress increases the blood glucose by increasing the catecholamine level and any tool to lower the stress ; ie., biofeedback or relaxation improves diabetic control. Thus, Islamic fasting during Ramadan should have a potentially beneficial effect with regard to dia- betic control.


It should be directed toward (a) diabetic home management; (b) preparing them for Ramadan; (c) recognizing warning symptoms of dehydration, hypoglycemia and other possible complications.

Patients should be taught home glucose monitoring, checking urine for acetone, doing daily weights, calorie-controlled diabetic diet, need for sleep and normal exercise. They should be able to take pulse, temperature, look for skin infection and notice changes in the sensorium ( mental alertness ) . They should be on special alert for any colicky pain, a sign for renal colic, or hyperventilation, a sign of dehydration, and to be able to seek medical help quickly rather than wait for the next day.


  • a. All male diabetics over age 20.
  • b. All female diabetics over age 20 if not pregnant or nursing.
  • c. Body weight normal or above ideal body weight.
  • d . Absence of infection, co-existing unstable medical conditions, ie,
coronary artery disease, severe hypertension (B/P 200/120), kidney stones, COPD or emphysema. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- PG 57 MISSING ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                              TABLE 1

American Pakistani Middle Eastern

Fruit 1 1/2 c Orange Juice 1/2 Grapefruit 1/2 Grapefruit

Starch 3 1/2 c Oatmeal 1 Pita Bread 1 Pita Bread
1 English Muffin 1/2 Potato Bhujia 1/3 c Fool Midammis

Meat 2 1 Boiled Egg 2 egg Omelet 1 Boiled Egg
1/4 c Cottage Cheese 1 oz Feta Cheese

Fat 1 1 tsp Margarine 1 tsp Olive Oil 1 tsp. Olive Oil And 2 Black Olives

Skim Milk 1 1c Skim Milk 1 c Skim Milk 1 c Laban

Free Foods 2 tsp Sugar Free Jam Tea Tea


Fruit 1 2 large Dates 2 large Dates 2 large Dates
Starch 1 6 sm Vanilla Wafers 1/3 c Chana Chaat 1/3 c Salatet Hummus
Skim Milk 1 1 c Skim Milk 1 c Lassi 1 c Rabat
fort tz I

Meat 3 3 oz Roast Beef 3 oz Bhuna Gosht 3 oz Tikka Kebab Starch 2
1 sm Baked Potato 1/3 c Daal 1/3 c Lentil Soup
1 Dinner Roll 1 Chapati 1 Pita Bread

Vegetable 2 1 c Tossed Salad 1 c Sliced Raw Vegetables 1/2 c Tomato and Onion
(carrot, cucumber, (tomato, cucumber, (cooked with Tikka
tomato, radish) onion) Kebab)

1/2 c Steamed 1/2 c Bhindi Bhujia 1/2 c Cooked
Cauliflower in Tomato
Broccoli Sauce

Fat 1 2 tsp Sour Cream 1 tsp Oil used in cooking 1 tsp Oil (used in cooking)

Fruit 1 1 Fresh Apple 15 sm Grapes 1 Fresh Apple

Free Foods Lettuce (for salad) Tea Tea
-as desired
2 Thl Reduced
Calorie Dressing
C coffee


Fruit/Starch 3 Graham Cracker 1/2 Mango 2 Tangerines
Skim Milk 1 1 c Skim Milk 1 c Skim Milk 1 c Laban


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