Ramadan and Eating Disorders: How To Get Through It

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For one thing, they’re real. Yes, we know you already know this but there’s one problem — Egyptian society in general doesn’t believe in eating disorders. Think about it for a second. Unless the disorder is too severe, a lot of people would rather go for excuses of anything from ‘hasad‘ to ‘possession‘ rather than consider eating disorders to be a thing.

And those who acknowledge the existence of eating disorders, well, they might just tell you to ‘suck it up’ and just move on like everyone else without looking into the fact that these disorders are serious. Whether it’s binging and purging or avoiding food entirely or even obsessively working out to the point where calories don’t even stick to you, eating disorders can’t remain the elephant in the room any longer.

 

Dear Readers, 

 

Please find below an article that was published in Identity-Mag Egypt to create awareness of Eating Disorders and Ramadan Fasting. Thank you Nada Abd ElKader for this brilliant and very informative piece of writing. Thank you for mentioning us and mentioning our Ramadan Guide. We share the article below for research and information purpose only.

 

 

 

 

 

Ramadan and Eating Disorders: How To Get Through It

 

warning: discussions of eating disorders

With all the breathtaking decorations and the lanterns everywhere and the sheer warmth that fills the air, Ramadan sure is one month everyone looks forward to. And yet, the spiritual Holy Month isn’t sunshine and roses for everyone around.

See, as horrible as it sounds, Ramadan is a particularly grueling month for some people. Especially those struggling with eating disorders. And that’s why we need to have this talk now.

The Things We Should Know About Eating Disorders:

For one thing, they’re real. Yes, we know you already know this but there’s one problem — Egyptian society in general doesn’t believe in eating disorders. Think about it for a second. Unless the disorder is too severe, a lot of people would rather go for excuses of anything from ‘hasad‘ to ‘possession‘ rather than consider eating disorders to be a thing.

And those who acknowledge the existence of eating disorders, well, they might just tell you to ‘suck it up’ and just move on like everyone else without looking into the fact that these disorders are serious. Whether it’s binging and purging or avoiding food entirely or even obsessively working out to the point where calories don’t even stick to you, eating disorders can’t remain the elephant in the room any longer.

Eating disorders overtake the body. They will affect the cardiovascular and gastrointestinal systems and more. People who deal with restrictive disorders like anorexia, for example, face a higher risk of low glucose levels, low blood pressure, dehydration, cardiac arrest, and fainting spells. And those who deal with binging disorders face a higher risk of hyperglycemic flux, among other things.

 

 

nd a lot of Egyptians, young and old and all ages in-between, do deal with severe issues regarding food, whether they call it by its name or not. Sometimes, even if the issues are under control, the people will get trigged and a relapse might soon follow.

Why Ramadan Might Actually Be Triggering for Some People:

After we scratched the bare surface on eating disorders, picture this. You’re suffering from an eating disorder, you may or may not have everything under control, and then Ramadan (the Holy month that puts a lot of focus on food) arrives

 

Yeah. You might see the issue now. See, this focus on food in Ramadan is incredibly hard on people suffering from eating disorders. Whether it’s the fasting and food avoidance or the fact that a vast majority of people tend to binge-eat the minute the fast breaks, the Holy month can be triggering for a lot of people.

And this triggering may just cause people to relapse into their disordered eating or it might make the ordeal itself much harder than it was. Most importantly, it might conceal the problem from everyone else because, to the naked eye, avoiding food and binging will be considered the norm for the month.

So how do you deal with this? What do you do if someone you know is suffering from an eating disorder and you just happen to know or notice?

Well, the first thing to do is to be mindful about what you say. And, yes, that means all those jokes about weight (your own included) are best avoided. That especially means that you shouldn’t be critical about someone’s appearance because, yes, that goes a long way.

Another thing to do is to be supportive during meal times because they can be challenging, especially at gatherings where people will not-so-gently force you to eat insane amounts of food and will probably comment on the person’s eating habits. And the most important thing of all is to not shame and judge the people suffering from their disorders because that’s exactly what will make them feel isolated in this time.

And if you yourself are struggling with an eating disorder, there’s a way to deal, too

Here, there will be two camps. See, first you must see if you’re in good condition to fast first (i/e: have you had recent relapse scares? Recent weight fluctuations?) and, because eating disorders are serious illnesses, you can still call Dar El-Iftaa to seek advice if you feel the need to.

 

 

If you’re fasting and you happen to be in treatment, you should put together an eating schedule that will guide you through Ramadan as well as keep in line with certain habits, like breaking your fast with dates to quickly stabilize blood sugar. If you’re fasting and you’re not in treatment, try implementing a healthy eating pattern and follow guides like these.

Either way, the most important thing here is to not be hard on yourself. It’s all a work in progress.

It’s time this conversation hit the mainstream.

 

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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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