Posts Tagged ‘Eating Disorders’

Ramadan and Eating Disorders

Sun setting over field.

*This blog was written anonymously. Please keep in mind that this is one person’s story and everyone’s recovery story will be unique.  

The month of Ramadan is a holy month for Muslims, followers of Islam. This was determined when the Prophet Muhammed stated that the gates of heaven are opened and the gates of hell are closed during the month of Ramadan, and is known as “The Night of Power.” Each day throughout Ramadan, Muslims do not drink or eat anything from sunrise to sunset and are expected to avoid impure thoughts, bad behaviors, and to pray extra. Within this month, Muslims typically spend time reciting the Quran, attending mosques, and engaging in good deeds. It is a time to practice self-restraint, self-reflection, and cleanse one’s soul and gain empathy for those who are suffering in the world that are less fortunate. Each year, Ramadan changes, so unlike Christmas or some other holidays that have destined days, Ramadan is based on the cycle of the lunar calendar. This year, Ramadan began on the night of Sunday, May 5, which means the days can be as long as 15 hours, for example, before the sun sets. When the sun sets, Muslims break fast with a grand feast, known as “iftar.”

Growing up in a Muslim household, my family and I would be a part of a community of Muslim individuals of all ages who would participate in fasting every year. I remember attending a gathering once during Ramadan, and observed children as young as 8, and elderly as old as 80, fast without any complaints or issues. I felt encircled by strong individuals and had so much admiration and respect for them. Ramadan reminded me about testing one’s abilities and strengths; how we, as humans, do not need food and water to do work and to function. The first time I fasted after reaching puberty (which determined my readiness to fast), I felt infinite. My classmates were amazed at my ability to fast all day. I thought I was superior than my peers, believing I didn’t need the same basic necessities as everyone else.

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Compulsive Overeating

Cheeseburgers and fries

Individuals who struggle with compulsive overeating typically eat excessive amounts of food—but not because they are hungry. These individuals eat to feel better, to cope with negative emotions. However, upon eating, the opposite happens. They feel a loss of control, shame, guilt, and as if they lack willpower. From there, the cycle of overeating begins again.

What exactly is compulsive overeating?

Compulsive overeating is a description of an eating disorder behavior, but it is not a diagnosis in itself. Typically, individuals who engage in compulsive overeating are diagnosed with bulimia if they engage in purging or binge eating disorder if no purging behaviors are present.

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Eating Disorders and Substance Use Disorders Comorbidity

Medication

Many individuals with eating disorders also struggle with alcohol and drugs. In fact, about half of all individuals diagnosed with an eating disorder also have a substance use disorder. Let’s take a look at the nature of both eating disorders and substance use disorders so we can examine their relationship and how to best treat these disorders when they co-occur.

Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are real, complex illnesses that are affected by biological, psychological, social, and environmental factors in an individual’s life. Eating disorders are characterized by a disturbance in eating or food behaviors and are often accompanied by negative body image. Eating disorders often co-occur with other mental health disorders such as substance use, anxiety, or depression. Eating disorders are categorized in the DSM-5 as follows:

Anorexia Nervosa. Anorexia revolves around the restriction of food intake and an obsession with body weight, size, or shape. It is the most fatal of all mental illnesses. Warning signs in preteens and teens may include a refusal to maintain an age-appropriate weight, body dysmorphia, over-exercising, and restrictive behavior around food.

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I Am

Erica Barreiro

**Content warning: some stories may mention eating disorder thoughts, behaviors, or symptoms. Please use your discretion when reading and speak with your therapist or support system when needed.

Erica Barreiro is currently in her sophomore year of college at Kent State University studying Nursing. She loves to read, go hiking, and spend time with her family. Most of all, she likes helping people anytime she can! 

I am sixteen and sad. My dad takes me to get my first debit card and I just received my driver license. It is summer, the days are warm and long, and sunshine should be in my veins, however I am numb. I am sixteen and I took a sandwich to my bedroom to put it deep beneath my trash. I am sixteen and I have lost count of the days where food used to be a priority. I am sixteen when I found a more destructive way to try and solve my pain. Maybe I was trying to put the sunshine into my veins… I was sixteen when my dad found out, when I cried and screamed, “I can’t eat, I burned myself”. I was sixteen when he sat me down “to figure it out.” I was sixteen when he made me three scrambled eggs to remind myself food is of essence. I was sixteen when he told me to “be strong,” to “face my problems head on,” and most of all to “move on.” “Don’t worry your mother, she works a lot.” I was sixteen when my eating disorder most likely started.

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