How National Health Services/Recovery Clinics can make Eating Disorder Recovery Programs more compatible and more inclusive for Muslims.



 “Get in touch with their own intuition. The answers are inside if we have a process to be introspective.

~ Dr. Herby Bell

Dear Readers,

Please find below a wonderful post on how National Health Services/Recovery Clinics can make programs more inclusive for Muslims.  Thank you to Alicia from UK for her research and for putting this together.



eating disorder clinic


Analyzing National Health Services/Recovery Clinics can make Eating Disorder Recovery Programs more compatible and more inclusive for Muslims.



An eating disorder is a major problem seen in the Muslim community and especially in the women and the young teenage girls. Beat is a charity organization helping people beat the eating disorder. The has published an article on 12 June 2015 about “Ramadan and eating disorder”. CNN on its official website also posted an article “Ramadan poses difficult choice for Muslims with eating disorders

” on 10 June 2016. It is commendable that people and health organizations are coming forward and are being more sympathetic toward the Muslim population.  Here are the few insights about the problem and solutions to overcome the same.


10 ways or suggestion for health services to make it more friendly for Muslims


  1. Believing in their culture.
  2. Involving the Imam
  3. Muslim therapists for females and male therapist for males
  4. Using Islamic healing methods in complementary therapies
  5. Providing meals and halal meals
  6. Involving the parents of the family to talk about the disorders in the child
  7. Giving teachings in the schools and Madarsas
  8. Using Foods from kitchen of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and trying to use it as a medicine
  9. Along with the patient educate the family.
  10. Spreading awareness

Men Muslims

A critic of eating disorder services and how it completely ignored Muslim sufferers in beginning.

Initially, the food disorder was not seen as a mental disorder in the Muslim community, more over it was assumed that the problem was not the food disorder but the bipolar disorder to cause the patient to be either be in a high phase that is hyperactive or in a lower phase that is no activity at all. It was not considered as a problem as was seen as the part of the Ramadan where the disciples needed to stay on fast for one month and because that the stomach used to shrink it was that caused the problem.


Eating disorders in the Muslim world and in western countries with Muslims

Muslim World


The studies in the past years have shown a massive swelling toll of people suffering from eating disorder in the Muslim community. The western countries with the Muslim population have seen the problem of eating disorder in the people but the ratio comparatively is really high when it comes to eating disorder in the Muslim sect.

NCBI published a case report from Iraq this stated that “Anorexia nervosa (AN) is a serious eating disorder with an incidence rate of 135.7 per 100,000 per year in Western countries ” . Also a study was posted on eating disorder Hope website Quoting

“.9% of women will struggle with anorexia in their lifetime, 1.5% of women will struggle with bulimia in their lifetime, 3.5% of women will struggle with binge eating”

It gets difficult to track such people down even by the families as because of the tradition that they follow called Ramadan, During Ramadan, the Muslim has to fast for the entire day and can only eat one the sun sets that is the big meal that they have called the iftaari. The people in the Muslim sect see this fasting faith as an opportunity to lose weight and fast the entire day without getting caught and also avoid the main meals over the evening that are very necessary.

Even if the problem has been diagnosed and the doctors instruct the patient to eat at regular intervals, It gets difficult for the patient to cope with it as the people and the family members around the patient follow the same fasting causing the patient to become more self-conscious one’s self.


How the service that’s offered can make recovery difficult for Muslims.

There is a vast difference in the culture of Muslims living in the middle east and that of the people living in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, etc. For people living in these countries, an illness can only be a physical damage. For them no such thing as mental illness. For them it is the lack of faith in god that causes all these issues. It is just the distraction from god that causes all these eating disorder issues.

Why are not many Muslims getting help?

The reason that not many Muslims are getting help is, to get help one need to talk. In the Muslim community, there is a male dominance in the family. The women are given the freedom to exercise the practice all freedom by Islam but not by the male community. The culture of the Muslim countries like Bangladesh, India and Pakistan the matters of such mental disorders are kept in the families and not allowed to be treated by the Doctors. Hence most of the Muslim population fails to get help from the organizations.


How Muslims also have one faith but different culture, so culture has to be taken into account

Like any other culture in the world Muslim one faith that is in Islam but different culture. One needs to accept this difference and has to be sympathetic towards the culture and teaching in order to treat the problem. For most of the Muslims coming from the cultural background practiced in Pakistan and Bangladesh have a lot less open mindedness towards mental disorders. To them, it is just the lack of love towards God that causes these disorders. On the other hand, you will find the Muslim community very advance in Sudan. They are medically approachable. Hence when meeting a patient one needs to understand the Muslim culture and needs to suggest things accordingly.


Getting in Imam or someone from mosque with training and background in Eating disorders

Most of the problems in the Muslim culture are sorted by the Imam. Hence taking The Imam into confidence and educating them about the problem could help the Muslim community at vast.




Muslim therapists for females and male therapist for males

Because of the huge cultural difference and the parda system in the culture, it will be easier for the organization to help treat the patients if the therapists are Muslim and of the respective gender of the patient.

Muslim Doctors

Using Islamic healing methods in complementary therapies

The major portion of the Muslim community still believes in the Complementary therapies rather than the mainstream medical science. Hence for their satisfaction along with the mainstream treatment, the complementary therapies can also be given as faith healing.  Some of the healing methods used in Islam are Dhikr that is chanting of verses. Another method is the cupping method, it can be called as the opposite of acupressure. Some Herb treatment is also practiced where the patient is made to consume some herbs as medicine.


Using Foods from the kitchen of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and trying to use it as a medicine.

As the Muslim community has a lot of faith in God and their culture. The food can be distributed in the name of God to which the patients will not be able to say no and this will help the patients to cope with the problem.




Having better understanding of Muslim dress wear and family values

The people suffering from an eating disorder get self-conscious about their appearance. Such people can be kept calm and can be lured by letting them know that the Muslim dress hides that you do not want to show the rest of the world. Also, need to make them understand that the patients need to talk to their family about the problems.



If the above-said services are followed in the Muslim countries there will be a greater chance of success. A number of people will be approachable and more awareness will be among the people itself. It is important to understand the the complexity is not in the culture but in the illness itself. Though many health organizations are now coming together in joining hand against this illness. It is a commendable job that the such organizations have stopped ignoring the fact that this health issue can also exist in the Muslims. To fight bulimia/anorexia its not the money that is needed it is the awareness and help that is required. This illness can grab anybody irrespective of their status.


About Author

Islam and Eating Disorders founded in 2012 – run by Maha Khan, the blog creates awareness of Eating Disorders in the Muslim world, offers information and support for sufferers and their loved ones.

Leave A Reply