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 Topic: The Unspoken Challenges of Having an Eating Disorder During Ramadan

 (Read 3805 times)
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  • The Unspoken Challenges of Having an Eating Disorder During Ramadan
     OP - June 11, 2016, 12:06 PM

    Quote
    Starving from sunset to sunrise is a stretch for the average Muslim during Ramadan—but for some women, they're not complaining. For those with eating disorders, it's the month they most look forward to all year.

    Maha Khan first developed anorexia when she was 15. "Every year, I used to wait for Ramadan thinking, 'Now I can lose weight'," says Khan, who is now 32 years old and the founder of the Islam and Eating Disorders blog. For Humaira Mayet, 21, a part-time science tutor who struggled with anorexia for six years, Ramadan "was anorexia's way of justifying my starvation—the more I restricted, the more spiritually strong I was for being able to resist the temptation of food."

    <snip>

    While Ramadan might seem like "an amazing opportunity to lose weight," as one pro-ana forum wryly dubs it, that's not to say it isn't without its challenges. Food is central to Ramadan and becomes the focal point of the religious holiday, whether it's planning what to eat at iftar, the evening meal where Muslims end their fast, or preparing dishes in its run-up.

    "For a Muslim suffering from an eating disorder, Ramadan can turn what is already a difficult time into an almost impossible dilemma," says Beat spokesperson Mary George. "The drastic changes in diet and food intake during this period can accelerate eating disorder symptoms."

    The tension of communal eating when breaking the fast—typically with large quantities of food—presents the biggest challenge of all. "Mealtimes, whether at home or outside, were the most difficult times," Khan says. "I really started to panic around people and would have anxiety attacks when food was presented to me. I would spend my whole day in bed, fretting over what I had eaten [the night before]. I dreamt of food and I studied one cookbook after another."

    Full text



    Really interesting aspect of Ramadan that people don't usually think about, or understand.

    I have to say this aspect always presented a major challenge for me when I was a believer.  To me it is a myth that you can lose weight in Ramadan, because the focus on the big meal at the end of the day, plus waking up before the sunrises to eat some more, all add to the weight rather than detract from it.  The change in the time you are eating is unhealthy for the metabolism, and at the extreme end of it, girls who are dangerously underweight already, well in my mind it could lead to death.

    I mean at my worst end of my eating disorder I had to drink prescribed milkshakes from the doctor at set times of the day, which would have made fasting impossible anyway.

    Obviously you can break your fast for medical reasons, but for many girls, an eating disorder is a long way away from being recognised by themselves or those around them, as a medical reason.  I can see many girls using this time as a way to further punish themselves, with no one around them the wiser to what they are doing.

    Just thought it was worth sharing as it's an increasing issue for Muslim girl's, and as I said, it is a much ignored aspect of ramadan that needs more discussion. 

    Inhale the good shit, exhale the bullshit.
  • The Unspoken Challenges of Having an Eating Disorder During Ramadan
     Reply #1 - June 14, 2016, 01:54 AM

    Interesting article on an issue I've honestly never really considered, and thank you for sharing your thoughts/experience as well. Do you know what the prevalence of eating disorders in the Muslim world and among Muslim communities is, by any chance?
  • The Unspoken Challenges of Having an Eating Disorder During Ramadan
     Reply #2 - June 14, 2016, 07:33 AM

    Thanks for sharing. To be honest, I've never thought about this aspect.

    "The healthiest people I know are those who are the first to label themselves fucked up." - three
  • The Unspoken Challenges of Having an Eating Disorder During Ramadan
     Reply #3 - June 14, 2016, 07:08 PM

    As Anorexia is a very serious illness with a high suicide rate, is it not exempt under the illness rules?

    How are matters that might not be recognised as diseases dealt with?

    When you are a Bear of Very Little Brain, and you Think of Things, you find sometimes that a Thing which seemed very Thingish inside you is quite different when it gets out into the open and has other people looking at it.


    A.A. Milne,

    "We cannot slaughter each other out of the human impasse"
  • The Unspoken Challenges of Having an Eating Disorder During Ramadan
     Reply #4 - June 14, 2016, 11:08 PM

    I must admit, I've never thought about this either. thanks for sharing
  • The Unspoken Challenges of Having an Eating Disorder During Ramadan
     Reply #5 - June 17, 2016, 08:21 PM

    As Anorexia is a very serious illness with a high suicide rate, is it not exempt under the illness rules?

    Yes it says this in the article. However the two women interviewed, both said they used Ramadhan fasting as an excuse not to eat and to lose more weight,even arguing with family about it.

    Quote
    How are matters that might not be recognised as diseases dealt with?

    I suspect it's extremely difficult for a lot, perhaps most. It probably takes a relatively young imam/sheikh/leader to accept that such problems exist, and to deal with them appropriately,as opposed to the traditional read more Qur'an/pray extra voluntary salat/make du'a at this this and this time. The latter is certainly how my depression was treated by some so called sheiks I spoke to.

    ---

    I hadn't considered this, either. Thank you BerberElla, for sharing this article.
  • The Unspoken Challenges of Having an Eating Disorder During Ramadan
     Reply #6 - June 20, 2016, 09:19 PM

    It’s great you posted this BerberElla because more awareness needs to be raised about eating disorders. I’ve never heard it being discussed by the Muslim community. I have experience of anorexia but it wasn’t an issue specifically in Ramadan for me as it felt the same as any other month. I don’t know the scientific effects because I never went to the doctor during Ramadan. I remember no one ever told me I shouldn’t fast because it’s not seen as an illness like diabetes for example, where people understand that it is harmful to fast. It’s a very complicated issue because even people who did think I was ill only recognised the physical aspect of food but not the psychological side of it. Also, it’s not just girls, I know of boys who have been affected by eating disorders and it is even more difficult for them to get help.
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