Ramadan with Eating Disorders

01 April, 2021
Q I used to suffer from multiple eating disorders, sometimes I did not eat for weeks, sometimes I made myself throw up the food...Thus, my stomach is really sensitive; any frustration and my stomach stop working.

If I do not eat well or especially drink enough, it stops working for days. I usually take pills or tea during Ramadan to be able to go to the bathroom. Due to this, I hate fasting.

I still have days from last Ramadan. Do you have any tips to not feel guilty for hating the fasting part of Ramadan? Although I enjoy the long prayers, reading more Quran and visiting the mosque...

Answer

In this counseling answer:

You may need psychological support to deal with the ongoing psychological effects of these as it seems you may still have the residual effects present reflected in your current eating habits.

You may need support with the physical consequences of your previous eating disorders.

Seek benefit from the things that you do enjoy at this time.

Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatulahi wa barakatuh,

Firstly, you have done the right thing to reach out for advice as it seems that you are aware that this is a problem not only to you physically and psychologically, but that it has an impact on your relationship with Ramadan.

This is a step in the right direction. The next step I would suggest is to get ongoing professional support for your eating disorders. You may need psychological support to deal with the ongoing psychological effects of these as it seems you may still have the residual effects present reflected in your current eating habits.

Additionally, you may need support with the physical consequences of your previous eating disorders as it seems they have resulted in a sensitive stomach. Your doctor may be able to prescribe something to help with this.

Ramadan with Eating Disorders - About Islam

These steps may not directly or immediately help you with your current issues relating to your relationship with fasting at this time, but they are necessary steps to take to reach the next stage where you can address current issues.

It can often feel tempting to just cut straight to fixing the current issue without dealing with the underlying problem, but this can have detrimental effects in the long term.

Dealing with existing issues first will place you on a strong path to deal with the current problems and have positive lasting effects.

You need to understand that your current feelings towards fasting is a natural consequence of what you have been through to this point so guilt is a normal response to this. Guilt is a very nasty thing to feel, but at the same time there are benefits to this.

To feel guilty about something means you know that something is not right. For example, feeling guilty about disliking fasting can be a good thing because these feelings let you know that disliking fasting is not a good thing.

It is an obligation and it, therefore, pushes you to do something to minimize these uncomfortable feelings of guilt by taking action. Alhamdulilah, in your case, these feelings of guilt have encouraged you to come forward and seek help in overcoming your difficulties.

As mentioned before, I would suggest taking the steps to tackle the problem from the very root first. Beyond that, and in the present, rather than focusing on the things that are not going so well at this time, instead, focus on the things that you can get benefit out of and use this as a platform to build on. Seek benefit from the things that you do enjoy at this time.

Don’t let your dislike of a single element of Ramadan spill over into the others. Don’t let this difficulty prevent you from attending the masjid, making linger prayers, and attending the masjid. These will be key supports to you emotionally and spiritually as you overcome the ongoing effects of previous difficulties.

May Allah be your guide in overcoming your struggles. May He continue to guide you on the right path and be the source of spiritual growth, especially at this special time of year.

Salam,

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 are liable for any damages that may arise from your decision in the use of our services.

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About Hannah Morris
Hannah Morris is a mum of 4 and she currently works as Counsellor and Instructor of BSc. Psychology at the Islamic Online University (IOU). She obtained her MA degree in Psychology and has over 10 years of experience working in health and social care settings in the UK, USA, and Ireland. Check out her personal Facebook page, ActiveMindCare, that promotes psychological well-being in the Ummah. (www.facebook.com/activemindcare)