Ramadan with an eating disorder can be a challenging combination. Ramadan is an Islamic holiday where Muslims fast for thirty days from sunrise to sunset. During that time one can not consume any food or water. The purpose of Ramadan is to allow one to spiritually grow and become close to family, friends, and God. Abstaining from pleasures like smoking, eating, and drinking helps remind us of everything there is to be grateful for. At the end of the thirty days of Ramadan, families, and friends come together to celebrate Eid.
Ramadan and eating disorders
As a recovered eating disorder survivor, I, unfortunately, faced many challenges during the holy month of Ramadan in the past. I struggled with a restrictive diet for a long time and fasting can potentially trigger restrictive thoughts and habits. The main thing I found helpful to avoid triggers was surrounding myself with friends, family, and prayers. Those are the three most important things during this holy month. Support from loved ones of why I was fasting in the first place, encouraged me to continue my fasts. It also reminded me of how grateful I should be for the amazing food I could have at sunset.
Although many people may experience triggers of restrictive eating from fasting, it is important to remind yourself of why you are fasting in the first place.
Fasting allows you to recognize all the resources and opportunities that you have access to that other people do not. This makes you even more appreciative of the food and family you get to share your meal with when you break your fast.
The meaning of Ramadan
Another extremely important thing to remind yourself of during Ramadan is that God is forgiving, and if you feel as if you may experience a relapse or triggers, you do not need to force yourself to fast. My parents’ support during recovery and reminder that I do not need to fast if it would prevent me from recovering, gave me so much motivation. It motivated me to not give my eating disorder more power over me and make me miss out on the opportunities of such an important month.
During this month, those in recovery should remind themselves of the reason they are fasting. They should also think of the many good deeds they are receiving during this holy month. Additionally, give yourself credit for every minute you spend giving back to those in need and fasting. If fasting every day is too overwhelming, try fasting every other day. It’s important to remind yourself that your intentions are important. Ramadan is meant to be filled with gratitude for all that we have.