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Eating Disorder Ruins My Life, Help!

Questioner

Anonymous

Reply Date

Dec 28, 2017

Question

I’ve been struggling with how to have the right eating habits that best suit me and my body, but I always either end up binge eating or eating too much. I’ve been trying to deal with this problem for years now because I don’t want my body to grow in an unhealthy way, so I try eating healthy but I can’t get myself to eat the right amount of food, I always end up overeating so I sometimes just don’t eat at all to prevent that from happening. I sometimes even gain weight from this and this stresses me out. I feel ashamed that as a Muslim, I can’t control my eating habits and I am unable to treat my body, that Allah has entrusted me with, in a proper way nor am I able to follow the prophets (PBUH) ways of eating. I can’t exactly talk to my family about this because last time I tried to, they began telling me that I’m being unreasonable and this isn’t a problem, it was very uncomfortable and I don’t want to do that again. Is there any kind of Aya or duaa I could recite to help me control myself? (Keeping in mind that I’ve tried making duaas during prayers for this countless times, and I always try doing tasabih and salat al nabi whenever I feel like I might overeat, but I end up overeating anyway.) Thank you for going out of your way to help. I’ve already eliminated candy, chips, sodas, and many other unhealthy foods from my diet and I fast every Monday and Thursday and I’ve been exercising, playing sports, stretching and working out regularly, I also have a very tight schedule where I go to school at around 7 am and return around 5-7 pm depending on what day it is, so I end up getting too exhausted and distressed during my time out so I eat too much to make up for it. I’m about to turn 17 and I want to take care of this problem before I grow up. I’m not exactly “fat” but I’m probably chubbier than my siblings who eat a lot of junk and don’t exercise. (Although I actually eat a lot of different food in small portions and I make sure to watch my calories, but somehow I still end up gaining weight sometimes.)

Counselor

Answer


Eating Disroder

In this counseling answer:

“Please do reach out to your family doctor, a nurse at your school or someone else you trust to assist you in getting the help that you need insha’Allah if your own family won’t take your condition seriously. You may also want to join a Bulimia support group in your area as well as one online that would provide education, supports as well as encouragement on your healing journey.”


As salamu alaykum dear sister,

 

Thank you for writing to us. I see you have written twice regarding your issue and I would like to address what is going on insha’Allah. As I understand it, in the past you were working out too strenuously; you felt that you fasted too much thus you reduced your fasting periods; you feel you cannot control your eating and you suffer from bingeing. You use to suffer from social anxiety, depression as well as low self-esteem.

You indicated that you went through a really hard period in which you suffered greatly but now, you have things under control. You fear losing that control however and wonder what to do if it comes back and how to prevent it from coming back.

Sister, I cannot diagnose you, only a professional who has assessed you can do that, however, it does appear you have bulimia nervosa. I’m not sure if you have been reading up on it to educate yourself but it is a very serious disorder which can cause damage to your organs, disrupt your hormones and even cause death. You mentioned you were treated for iron deficiency at one point and that is one of the dangers and results of bulimia.

Alhumdulilah, it was discovered and addressed. I’m not trying to scare you sister but I am attempting to make you aware of what can happen if you don’t seek professional help. You have taken the first step towards recovery which is admitting you have a problem.

You have also taken the second step, which is talking to someone about it, which you are doing here with us at AboutIslam alhumdulilah. I would however kindly recommend sister, that you do seek professional help insha’Allah before another episode takes place.

Please do reach out to your family doctor, a nurse at your school or someone else you trust to assist you in getting the help that you need insha’Allah if your own family won’t take your condition seriously. You may also want to join a Bulimia support group in your area as well as one online that would provide education, supports as well as encouragement on your healing journey.

Sister, I would like to ask you to think about when this eating disorder began, how old were you? Was there anything going on at home, school, your social life that precipitated this? Do you have a history of being abused as a child? Do you engage in risky behaviors? Are you prone to self-injurious behaviors? Do you take laxatives frequently, how often do you binge when the disorder is active? I kindly suggest dear sister that you start to keep a journal and notate the above questions.

Please reflect upon when you were binge eating-what were some of the triggers that you can identify? As you state you are now stable, what are some of the coping skills and techniques that you used to reach stability? At this point, only you know what triggers your binge eating and what worked for your initial recovery.

Staying away from the people, places and things that trigger a binge is step three in the recovery process, but first, you must make a commitment to actually do that. This will entail a self-inventory, being honest with yourself about your feelings, learning new coping techniques as well as learning how to regain control of your life in general.

A lot of young women who develop eating disorders do so because they feel the food is the only thing in their lives that they have. When all else is out if their control, they have food -to eat excessively or to not eat at all. They also often feel they food is one of the only things that they can control or power over. How much goes in or doesn’t go in and in the case of bulimia-how much comes out. However as you can see sister, it becomes something that eventually takes control over you.

What starts off as an occasional binge and purge my quickly develop into an addiction of sorts. When bingeing occurs, it is said that the one bingeing is essentially trying to “fill up” a lonely or dark, sad void within themselves. Additionally, people who have bulimia tend to hold all their feelings inside, compounding the sense of loneliness and need for comfort and control.

Sister, I urge you to please insha’Allah start the journal so you can get a better picture of what is going on.Insha’Allah make an appointment with a local counselor/therapist for assessment, diagnosis and treatment. If you do have bulimia, the good news is that people usually respond quickly to treatment meaning it treatable but you have to be committed sister and follow through with the needed steps and advice.

Treatment usually consists of cognitive behavioral therapy, antidepressants for those who are resistant, as well as learning how to express feelings and emotions in a positive healthy way. Please do follow through sister, and make duaa to Allah to grant ease on your journey in recovery. Please let us know how you are doing insha’Allah, you are in our prayers.

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Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, its counselors or employees be held liable for any damages that may arise from your decision in the use of our services.

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About Aisha Mohammad

Aisha received her PhD in psychology in 2000 and an MS in public health in 2009. Aisha worked as a Counselor/Psychologist for 12 years for Geneva B. Scruggs Community Health Care Center in New York. Aisha specializes in trauma, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, marriage/relationships issues, as well as community-cultural dynamics. She is certified in Restorative Justice/ Healing Circles, Conflict Resolution, Mediation, and is also a certified Life Coach. Aisha works at a Family Resource Center, and has a part-time practice in which she integrates healing and spirituality using a holistic approach. Aisha plans to open a holistic care counseling center for Muslims and others in the New York area in the future, in sha' Allah. Aisha is also a part of several organizations that advocate for social & food justice. In her spare time she enjoys her family, martial arts classes, Islamic studies as well as working on her book and spoken word poetry projects.

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