Spending Ramadan under Quarantine for Muslims Struggling with Eating Disorders

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Ramadan under Quarantine for People with Eating Disorder

The holy month of Ramadan began on Thursday, 23 April, and it is set to be a different year due to COVID-19. It’s a time when more than 1.6 billion Muslims across the world will fast each day from sunrise to sunset.

Most faithful stay up late during the hours when drinking and eating is permitted. Muslims are expected to stock their kitchen with ingredients to make traditional meals.

However, the lockdowns and curfews as a result of COVID-19 has reduced the opening hours; thus, families are struggling to prepare for their meals. For instance, there is rampant food shortages, while in other places, stores are rationing the number of items customers can purchase. 

Further, many people are ill as a result of this viral infections or due to other illnesses that have been accentuated by COVID-19 quarantine measures.

Muslims fast for Allah, and thus such an occasion shouldn’t harm one’s health, for it should make it easy to serve him but not bring hardships.

 

Dear Readers,

 

Please find below a guest post on Ramadan from Kenya. Keeping the current situation in mind, the article below gives some good helpful tips on spending Ramadan under Quarantine (whether you are fasting or not).

Thank you NKhata for this great peice.

 

Spending Ramadan under Quarantine for Muslims Struggling with

Eating Disorders

 

Author: NKhata

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is a viral disease that causes an acute respiratory problem. The infectious disease began in December 2019 in Hubei province in China.

Today, reports indicate that more than 2.7 million are infected, 191, 000 are dead, and 750,000 have recovered. The disease has contributed to other health problems as a result of social isolation and quarantine. The pandemic is impacting people’s mental health, thus causing panic, anxiety, loneliness, stress, sleep disturbances.

Effects of COVID-19 on People with Eating Disorder

Quarantine has emotional effects on people with an eating disorder that are emotionally and physically isolated. These individuals have a severe problematic relationship with food, and the present situation of social isolation may enhance the challenge as a result of panic buying and food insecurity.

Thus, the limited supply of food in the market or panic buying can accentuate issues of people living with the disorder. Therefore, underweight people with an eating disorder are vulnerable to COVID-19 due to their compromised physical health.

Ramadan under Quarantine for People with Eating Disorder

The holy month of Ramadan began on Thursday, 23 April, and it is set to be a different year due to COVID-19. It’s a time when more than 1.6 billion Muslims across the world will fast each day from sunrise to sunset.

Most faithful stay up late during the hours when drinking and eating is permitted. Muslims are expected to stock their kitchen with ingredients to make traditional meals.

However, the lockdowns and curfews as a result of COVID-19 has reduced the opening hours; thus, families are struggling to prepare for their meals. For instance, there is rampant food shortages, while in other places, stores are rationing the number of items customers can purchase.

Further, many people are ill as a result of this viral infections or due to other illnesses that have been accentuated by COVID-19 quarantine measures.

Muslims fast for Allah, and thus such an occasion shouldn’t harm one’s health, for it should make it easy to serve him but not bring hardships.

Challenges That Ramadan Poses to Worshippers with Eating Disorders

Worshippers are instructed to fast for 30 days during this holy month. This helps you to improve your relationship with God. You are also asked to engage in communal eating with family, friends, and neighbours, thus strengthening your relationship with others as well.

On the other hand, people with eating disorders may get disturbed during this month. Fasting is a precursor to the eating disorder, and therefore, Ramadan can plunge people with eating disorders into a vicious, destructive cycle. The sufferer might be tempted to engage in binge and purge or, worse, still restrain from eating at all, which is more harmful to the body.

They might get traumatized, mainly due to the current situation as a result of COVID-19. Thus Ramadan might create a sense of shame, thus making the situation worse for worshippers with eating disorders. For instance, the stigma and shame of not fasting can pull people with Anorexia and Bulimia back.

They might struggle with low self-esteem, experience the challenges of weight loss, or, worse still, engage in starvation instead of fasting. However, sufferers should ensure that they remain healthy throughout the Ramadan period. That means they shouldn’t cut out certain food groups, go on a diet, or satisfy the needs of the eating disorder.

Any person with an eating disorder should realize that they can participate in this month of blessing with the support of their doctor and should avoid engaging in practices that can harm them.

Observing Ramadan under Doctor’s Guidance for People with Eating Disorder

Muslim faithful suffering from an eating disorder can participate in 2020 Ramadan under the guidance of their doctor. It’s vital to consult your doctor because the Quran shows that no worshipper should expose themselves to ruin.

Thus, going contrary to this direction is disobeying Allah. In fact, Islam doesn’t force anyone to observe Ramadan because it prioritizes health more than anything. While some people may consider it a taboo not to fast its greater wrong to fast under life-threatening or chronic disease.

Although someone may choose to fast despite their condition and without the approval of their doctor, then this becomes a personal choice but not a religious one. A person has an option either to fast or not based on their health condition and shouldn’t allow social pressure to cause them to engage in fasting when it can affect their life.

Actually, Prophet Pbuh stated that no one should inflict harm to themselves. Thus, a Muslim shouldn’t expose themselves to the risk of injury or illness.  Further, the Prophet said that one should not humiliate or expose himself to certain dangers that he may not be able to cope with.

Thus, a person with an eating disorder has unregulated blood glucose levels that can expose them to life-threatening complications. For that reason, fasting without the guidance of a doctor can ruin you, and this is against Allah’s teachings.  Therefore, people suffering from eating disorders should avoid engaging in Holy Anorexia, which tries to expose a Muslim to self-starvation in the name of observing Ramadan.

Self-Care for Muslims with Eating Disorders

Ramadan is more than eating and drinking; for that reason, Muslims across the world are supporting each other despite the closure of most mosques, suspension of flights, curfews, and lockdowns. People are conducting online prayers to uplift their spirits and maintain connections.

Most worshippers are alone because of the COVID-19 pandemic that has ruined the family traditions, and therefore, they have to engage in futoor in isolation to avoid risking other peoples’ lives.

Helping Others: Most people are focusing on helping the needy, and people with eating disorders can engage in such activities rather than dwelling on their illness for such actions will ease their anxieties. They can plan to eat at the same time with others as they engage on social media.

Self-care: Social isolation can cause people to slip into poor habits like sleeping late, eating junky food, spending the entire day in pajamas, among others. However, practicing basic self-care such as making sure the room is well-ventilated, eating healthy, lots of hydration, getting enough sleep, and maintaining a routine can help people with eating disorders during these challenging times.

Exercise: Engaging in physical activities can enhance your physical and mental well-being, particularly now during the quarantine period. You can step out if it’s allowed where you live and get a daily dose of sunshine or even stand on the balcony. Further, if your age and health permits, try engaging in yoga or stretching exercises at home

Create Buddy Groups: Set-up groups with your family and friends. Ensure that you check up on each other either by phone or online. Support those struggling with eating disorders by planning to eat at the same time, sharing recipes and suggestions. Allah obliges all worshippers to care and protect one another.

Conclusion

Ramadan is a month to show mercy to oneself and others. Thus, people with an eating disorder shouldn’t feel ashamed of not participating in Ramadan because their health doesn’t permit.

Instead, they should prioritize their health, eating well-balanced meals, get enough sleep, and engage in physical exercises. They can support others by forming buddy groups and sharing encouragements with others facing social isolation and loneliness. These activities will reduce stress and anxieties caused by COVID-19.

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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.

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