As the start of Ramadan approaches, Registered Dietitian Carolina Frascina shares information about what Ramadan is, and how Dietitians can support their patients and colleagues during this holy month.
Ramadan is practiced by Muslims worldwide as a month of fasting, prayer, reflection, practising kindness, patience and community. Muslims fast every day during the month from sunrise until sunset. This means they must completely abstain from all food and drink during this time. A meal is eaten before sunrise (suhoor) and after sunset (iftar).
To effectively support our Muslim patients and our colleagues, it is important that as Dietitians, we have an awareness of Ramadan, what it is, what is involved and how this could potentially impact nutrition and hydration. A key component of Ramadan is fasting, which by its nature, means that fluid and nutritional intake is altered. This has implications for all individuals but additional consideration needs to be given to those whose dietary intakes may impact on their health and wellbeing e.g. an individual with diabetes.
The following information has been developed to increase awareness and cultural competency of our Dietetic workforce so that we can meet the needs of our patients and support our Muslim colleagues who may be fasting during the month of Ramadan.
Ramadan takes place on the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and follows the Lunar cycle. The exact dates vary each year and it lasts for 29 to 30 days. Ramadan 2022 is due to start in the evening on 2 April and will end on 1 May.
Fasting is obligatory for all adults unless:
A fast is voided if anything enters the mouth, throat, stomach or intestines.
It is important to note, some individuals who are chronically ill may still want to fast in view of special blessing and spiritual benefits despite being advised not to. The individual’s choice should be respected and advice offered to suit this. You may want to consider adjusting care plans accordingly by holding a multi-disciplinary meeting with involvement of a Muslim Chaplain/Imam, if available.
Examples of adjustments, with support of the multidisciplinary team include:
If the individual is exempt from fasting, they could make other lifestyle changes such as increased prayer and timing mealtimes to suit others in the household observing Ramadan. If able, individuals may want to make a donation or ‘Fidya’ to help feed others in need.
Bowel habits can change when different foods are introduced at different times. To help avoid or manage constipation aim to:
Eid-al-Fitr signifies the completion of the Holy Month of Ramadan and is celebrated on the first day of Shawwal (tenth month). Eid-al-Fitr is a time of celebration where people will come together, share food, exchange gifts and visit friends and family. During Eid, you may hear people say ‘Eid Mubarak’. This literally means ‘blessed Eid’ and is a way of expressing celebration.