Eating disorders in Ramadan

As Ramadan approaches, it can be an especially vulnerable time for those of us struggling with disordered eating. Worrying over the fat shaming aunties, the feeling of entering a cycle of restriction, the friends looking to share food with love (but also lovingly shoving it all down your throat), and the constant emphasis on food can be exhausting. Nurturing our spiritual relationship can and should be interconnected with our overall mental health and wellbeing. I hope that with some reminders of mindfulness, understanding, and support, it can be possible to navigate this sacred time with grace and self-compassion. 

Of course if you’re curious about whether or not you’re struggling with an eating disorder, you may want to refer back to our blog post here: Understanding Body Image and Eating Disorders 

Let’s start by considering the challenges

When we’re struggling with disordered eating/eating disorders, Ramadan can trigger feelings of anxiety, guilt, and shame surrounding food. The pressure to adhere to religious practices while simultaneously managing the struggles of living with an eating disorder can feel incredibly overwhelming. Societal expectations and cultural norms around food during Ramadan may exacerbate these challenges, leading to heightened distress - but it’s important to take this time to understand how your relationship with food feels at this moment. Struggling with an eating disorder is a mental health and emotional concern, it’s important to ask yourself: 

  1. How well supported are you at this time?
  2. How much stress are you experiencing during this time in your life, and how have you been handling it?
  3. Is your routine a part of your mental health and wellbeing plan? What could happen when it’s drastically changed?
  4. Do you feel the fast will heighten your difficulties with disordered eating? 
  5. Is it healthy for you to fast?
  6. Have you discussed this with a medical or mental health professional? 
  7. What other practices (outside of fasting) and acts of worship do you feel bring you closer to God? 

In order to navigate this period of time, it’s important to consider old patterns and your relationship with this month, its historical impact on your mental health, your current capacity to manage stress, and most importantly, the type of support you have in your life (professional and personal). 

Your mental health is NOT a reflection of your faith 

When you start to appreciate the complexity of your personal and mental health journey, you begin to understand that disordered eating is interlaced with skills of emotion regulation, past traumas, stressors and genes. This can help us begin to set compassionate and realistic plans for this spiritual month (this may and can include not fasting). A big part of managing our mental health, stress and disordered eating is structure and routine. This is a need for many of us and especially for those of us struggling with emotional concerns. Ramadan’s drastic change in routine can lead us to relapse into old patterns of disordered eating (thought and emotional patterns associated with restricting food), exacerbate ongoing and current struggles with one’s eating disorder, and increase our vulnerability to stress. 

If you do find it’s appropriate to fast for you at this time, it's crucial to prioritize both mental and physical well-being above all on your journey. So that you have endurance for the fast and emotional stressors that will arise. This means acknowledging your limitations and setting realistic goals for yourself. Making sure you have a wellness plan. Having support and someone to speak to when things get tough. After all Ramadan is the month of mercy and compassion, and there are so MANY ways to connect with God that don’t require fasting. Remember that your worth is not tied to your ability to fast perfectly or adhere to strict dietary restrictions. Honour your body's needs and listen to its cues without judgment or self-criticism. 

Trust your own judgment and trust your body when deciding on whether or not you can fast. As our beloved Prophet (PBUH) has said, “A person who knows themselves best, knows their Lord best.” 

The relief of leaning into support 

Choosing not to fast for health reasons does not make you any less Muslim. If you're struggling to cope with an eating disorder during Ramadan, seeking professional support is essential. Whether it's therapy, counseling, or nutritional guidance, working with qualified professionals can provide you with the tools and strategies to navigate this challenging time safely. They can also help you develop coping mechanisms to manage triggers and regulate your relationship with food. 

Why you need self compassion

To know our limits and take into consideration our capacity without shame is a practice exemplifying Divine Compassion and Mercy. 

Incorporating mindfulness and self-compassion practices can be invaluable during Ramadan. Take moments throughout the day to check in with yourself, acknowledge your emotions without judgment, and practice self-care activities that nourish your mind, body, and soul. Remember that it's okay to prioritize your well-being and set boundaries to protect your mental and emotional health. Returning to God with every breath, as He accepts our actions and efforts based on our intentions. 

Open and honest communication with loved ones about your struggles and needs is crucial during Ramadan. Whether it's explaining your situation to family members or seeking support from friends who understand your journey, because we know that many of our families may not be skilled to understand the complexity of the experience. Don't hesitate to reach out for help when you need it. Surround yourself with individuals who offer empathy, encouragement, and non-judgmental support–this can mean joining Ramadan support groups or even starting one!! 

Connecting with the Sacred 

Above all, remember that Ramadan is about spiritual connection, self-reflection, and compassion. Embrace the opportunity to deepen your relationship with your faith and connect with the Divine in meaningful ways. Whether it’s through prayer, meditation, or acts of kindness, allow yourself to experience the transformative power of this sacred month compassionately. 


Navigating Ramadan with an eating disorder presents its challenges, but with compassion, self-awareness, and support, it's possible to find balance and healing. Remember that recovery is a journey, and every step forward, no matter how small, is a testament to your strength and resilience. May this Ramadan be a time of renewal, growth, and self-discovery for us all isA! Stay compassionate and be gentle with yourself.

Until next time,