Interview with Maria Nadeem Ramadan Nutrition- Clinical Dietitian




Dear Visitors,


Please find below live recording of our IG Live Session with Live session with Maria Nadeem, clinical Dietitian from @rainbowedcofficial . We will be talking about managing your eating disorder in month of Ramadan. The meal time challenges and importance of Nutritional support and management in recovery from Eating Disorders. We will be talking about common traits people face when going through recovery.




Interview Analysis Reflection by Mayar Assaf


In this interview with Dr. Maria Nadeem, a clinical dietitian with Rainbow Eating Disorder Centre, She  discussed the importance of nutrition in recovery from an eating disorder as well as nutrition in  Ramadan and how patients can handle it. 

Her passion for medical fields drove her to study nutrition since it was the most relatable to  medicine, and she specialized in eating disorder nutrition due to the lack of professionals in this  field, especially in the east. It was a new thing and a highly demanded profession. As well, her  dream to work with psychiatrists and psychologists encouraged her to apply to work with Rainbow  Centre in Pakistan. 

In her over 10 years of expertise in this field, she describes having been through many challenges  and difficulties with patients. Each and every patient is different, struggling with different health  issues, mental issues, and nutrition portfolios. 

The most challenging is dealing with picky eater patients who are more picky about what they like  and dislike and their food preferences, so it’s not easy to plan a meal plan for them due to the lack  of variety and choices that she can include in the plan. 

“Otherwise, I always feel enthusiastic and eager to help my patients and contribute to the success  of their journey.” 

According to her, patients relationships with food vary from one to the next; some will consider food  a companion, and she has to work with them to reach a balanced level where they can enjoy food in  moderation and do not depend on food to solve or cover their problems. “Help them build a positive  relationship with food so that they can achieve their goals in terms of relationship and health.” 

Her methodology starts with identifying the fear and how intense it is, especially in ED sufferers.  After that, she will address those fears with realistic goals that she can work on with the patient  without leveling up his or her fears or developing new ones. 

For example, if a patient fears eating carbs, she would incorporate them into the meal plan, but in a  realistic and balanced way without triggering the patient’s fear. 

In terms of variety, it is very important to create a balanced meal plan that includes a variety of  foods for many reasons: to keep the meal plan exciting and not boring, to be culture-friendly, and to  maintain a healthy colon and digestion. 

During Ramadan, which is a holy month in Islam, Muslims fast from Fajr to Maghrib. Food plays a  huge role in this month, emotionally, by gathering families and friends around food or time. So sometimes it’s hard to keep up with patients during this month because they want to lose weight 

and indulge in Ramadan food at family gatherings at the same time, which may leave them feeling  more stressed, anxious, or developing binge eating. She advises people to keep up with their  physical activities and do sports, even if it means walking for 30 minutes a day, drinking enough  water during iftar time because they lose hydration during fasting hours, and finally enjoying food in  moderation. Here, her role stands out in controlling the portion sizes of the meals and desserts. 

So to simplify it, she advises you to focus on these points: 

  • Physical activities, doing sports, and moving your body. 
  • Managing stress levels. 
  • Sleeping, getting rest, and sleeping well play a vital role in managing stress, anxiety, and  mood. 
  • Water Intake: Try to maintain an appropriate level of hydration. 

For ED patients, they have been through a lot of challenges with food, so when it comes to fasting  during Ramadan, some will enjoy it and be excited to fast because they are naturally faster in their  lives. They fast on a day-to-day basis for many reasons that could be unhealthy as well. 

For anorexia patients, she usually advises them not to fast during Ramadan due to their medical  history, which would trigger going back a few steps and experiencing health issues. As well, Islam  gave ill people an excuse for not fasting and allowed them to do that. So the challenge here is how  to convince them not to fast and to take it easy and slowly on their physical and mental health.  “Health is our priority, so we have to tell them to take care of their health.”. 

For binge eaters, who would consume a huge amount during iftar time due to scarcity of mind, she  encourages them not to fast as well so they can be in a moderately balanced relationship with food  and not to look at food as it is going to vanish and won’t be available the next day. She has to play  with the portion sizes for them and eating techniques like suggesting foods that are calorically  dense so they can still nourish their bodies, have their daily food intake, feel safe and comfortable  around food, and help them control their binge eating. 

To have a healthy fast full of nutrition and balance, people need to have dietitian support in most  cases. Dr.Maria focuses on a whole-food diet rich in vitamins and minerals and with a balanced ratio  of carbs, proteins, fiber, and fats. 

For people who are dealing with fear of feeling hungry and craving food, she teaches them the  difference between physical and emotional hunger. For physical hunger, they have to satisfy that  feeling by eating a properly balanced meal to fuel their bodies and be able to perform their daily  tasks. “Our body needs fuel, and food is our fuel, like petrol is the fuel of a car.”.

tasks. “Our body needs fuel, and food is our fuel, like petrol is the fuel of a car.”. 

When experiencing emotional hunger they need to distract theirselves by doing anything and  changing their current situation. In order to prevent emotional hunger she always make sure to give  her patient a fiber rich meals that contains complex carbs, source of protein, and a healthy portion  of healthy fats. So when satisfying the physical hunger with good manners, the emotional hunger  will be less intense. 

Finally, she encourages her patients during Ramadan to take care of their mind, body, and soul since  they are deeply connected with each other. When we take care of ourselves, that will make us enjoy  food more because food is a blessing from Allah. By practicing mindfulness and gratitude. 

In conclusion, it’s important to take it easy on yourself during Ramadan, especially for ED patients,  and don’t forget to follow all the tips Dr.Maria recommended in order to have a fruitful experience  spiritually and on a health level.


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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