Eating Disorders Ruminating- Feeling Guilty over your Past?


Eating Disorders and Ruminating

Eating Disorders are very complex. Traumatic events can prompt eating disorders, certain life events can prompt eating disorders. Bottom line, there is no single cause for eating disorders. Most experts think the condition is caused by a combination of psychological, environmental and biological factors.

One reason why people may turn to Eating Disorder behaviors is Ruminating-   It’s repeating and remembering your past in your mind. It’s retracing past mistakes. When people ruminate, they over-think or obsess about situations or life events. Reflecting on events of past is associated with a variety of negative consequences, including depression, anxiety and eating disorder.  When you’re suffering from an Eating Disorder, we often find ourselves in the nightmares of former past. Some people are not so open to the idea of letting go. They cling on some past events in life or on a present situation that needs to be put in the past and left there. For some people, eating disorder behaviors becomes a way to cope with life and drown out their ruminations, this simply conjures up more negative thoughts and  becomes a vicious cycle.

Nolen-Hoeksema’s research has found that “when people ruminate while they are in depressed mood, they remember more negative things that happened to them in the past, they interpret situations in their current lives more negatively, and they are more hopeless about the future.”

Guilt over your past mistakes, failures etc. This guilt simply feeds the eating disorder and keep you stuck in it.  Guilt and eating disorders go hand in hand. A dear sister from the States said Bulimia helps her to ruminate, its a method for her to punish herself and to avoid the reality of her past mistakes. She said she does not feel better about anything and feels that she will never be forgiven for the hurt she has caused her family and loved ones.

“I believe I deserve to feel terrible about what I’ve done in my past, the hurt I’ve caused my family.  Why would Allah even want to forgive someone like me?  I mistreat the body He has given me so many times, and this gives me immense pleasure.  I know that I don’t even want to recover from my eating disorder anymore.”


All I can say is how can we doubt the word of Allah? When He has said time and time again that I am full of mercy and forgiveness, then how for a second can we think of questioning his word or have a doubt that he will not forgive us? His word is Eternal.

It does not matter how many mistakes you have made in your past, how many people you have hurt, God is oft-forgiving, oft-merciful. Turning towards binge-eating, and other eating disorder behaviors is dangerous. Reflecting on your past mistakes also becomes the fast track to feeling helpless, it paralyzes your life. You become so preoccupied with your past that you’re unable to push past the cycle of negative thoughts. It can even turn people away.

No one is perfect here.  Remember that we all sin every day.  You may sometimes sin in regard to your eating disorder.  This doesn’t mean that you have to remain in your guilt. 

Just think about it.  Do you think after  your repentance that Allah wants you to continue feeling bad about what you’ve done?  Does He want to see you hurting when He’s already listened to your cry of repentance?

Carrying unnecessary guilt takes time and energy away from focusing on Him and following His path, it simply leads us astray on to a path of unhappiness, misery and destruction.  Instead, take that time and energy and ask Him to help you not to do the same thing again.  Everyday Allah gives us is a blessing for us, a golden opportunity for us to turn towards him. Grab this opportunity! “The Chinese use two brush strokes to write the word ‘crisis.’ One brush stroke stands for danger; the other for opportunity. In a crisis, be aware of the danger–but recognize the opportunity.”
John F. Kennedy

Seeking Forgiveness- taken from ‘I want to Repent’

Allah stretches forth His hand at night to forgive those who have done wrong during the day, and He stretches forth His hand by day to forgive those who have done wrong during the night. Allah loves our apologies and please, so Why not turn to Him instead of turning to your Eating Disorder to drown your sorrows? 

How beautiful to Allah are the words of the one who repents:

“O Allah, I ask You by Your power and by my own shame to have mercy on me.

I ask You by Your strength and my own weakness, by Yourself- sufficiency and my own dependence.

To You I submit my lying, sinful forlock.

You have many slaves besides me, but I have no Master except You. I have no refuge or escape from You except with You.

I beseech you in the manner of a poor and destitute man, I pray to you with the prayer of one who is humble, I call upon you with the supplication of one who is blind afraid.

This is a plea from one who head is humbled before You, whose nose is in the dust, whose eyes are filled with tears and whose heart has submitted to You.”


Time of Reflection and reducing Ruminating

Examine what draws you into behaviors that make you feel guilty.

Outline some practical changes you can make in order to distance yourself from your eating disorder. 

Perhaps you can study some Qur’an to help strengthen you where you are most susceptible.

Discuss your vulnerable/trigger areas with your counselor, support group or your family or friends.  They may have some personal experiences they can share that will encourage you.  Also, they may help you to keep on track with this issue.

How To Reduce Rumination

According to Nolen-Hoeksema, there are essentially two steps to stop or minimize rumination.

1. Engage in activities that foster positive thoughts. “You need to engage in activities that can fill your mind with other thoughts, preferably positive thoughts,” she said.

That could be anything from a favorite physical activity to a hobby to meditation to prayer. “The main thing is to get your mind off your ruminations for a time so they die out and don’t have a grip on your mind,” she advised.

2. Problem-solve. People who ruminate not only replay situations in their head, they also focus on abstract questions, such as, “Why do these things happen to me?” and “What’s wrong with me that I can’t cope?” Nolen-Hoeksema said.

Even if they consider solving the situation, they conclude that “there is nothing they can do about it.”

Instead, when you can think clearly, “identify at least one concrete thing you could do to overcome the problem(s) you are ruminating about.” For instance, if you’re uneasy about a situation at work, commit to calling a close friend so you can brainstorm solutions.

I just believe in One thing, that You Deserve Happiness, So Stop Settling for Less. “Smile every chance you get.  Not because life has been easy, perfect, or exactly as you had anticipated, but because you choose to be happy and grateful for all the good things you do have and all the problems you know you don’t have.”


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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.

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