Step 4 Eating Disorder Recovery- 12 Islamic Steps to Recovery


Step 4 Eating Disorder Recovery

Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

We are One


Dear Readers, Welcome to Step 4 of 12 Islamic Steps to Recovery from Eating Disorder. In step 4, you show your willingness to trust God. You make a searching and fearless written inventory of your life, surveying or summarizing the thoughts, events, emotions, and actions of your life, making your inventory as complete as possible. Doing a fearless and thorough inventory of your life will not be easy. When we say fearless, we do not mean you will have no feelings of fear. You will likely experience many emotions as you survey your life, including embarrassment or shame or fear. Fearless means you will not let your fears stop you from being thorough in the inventory process.


In step 4, it means you commit to rigorous honesty as you focus on events in your life, including your own weaknesses, and not on anyone else’s weaknesses. In the past you probably justified bad behaviour and blamed other people, places, or things for the problems you had created. Now you will begin to take responsibility for past and current actions, even though you may need to acknowledge painful, embarrassing, or difficult events, thoughts, emotions, or plain simple truth about yourself.

Truthful in Islam

Being truthful is not always easy, especially when we make a mistake. We fret over whether or not to disclose exactly what happened. We sweat, we are afraid, we feel nervous and anxious. We are often afraid that if we tell the truth about what we have done or said, we will be in trouble with our parents or friends. What we forget is that whether we tell the truth or not, Allah Most High knows exactly what took place, even those things that were never manifest or visible to people around us. Despite how burdensome telling the truth might seem, all of us are aware of the feeling of relief we experience when we tell the truth, even if the consequence of telling the truth is punishment. Casting the telling of truth and the fate of the truthful in terms of profit and loss, Allah Most High tells us in the Qur’an:

[This is a day on which the truthful will profit from their truth: theirs are gardens, with rivers flowing beneath — their eternal Home: Allah well-pleased with them, and they with Allah. That is the great salvation, (the fulfillment of all desires).] (Al-Ma’idah 5:119)

So much is to be gained from being truthful as opposed to escaping punishment or blame because of not being truthful. Not being truthful, in fact, leads us down a slippery slope, guaranteeing that with one lie, more lies must be told. Being truthful is not an option for Muslims, but rather an obligation, because our goal in being truthful is Paradise. The beloved of Allah, Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him), said, as narrated by `Abdullah (may Allah be pleased with him), Truthfulness leads to righteousness, and righteousness leads to Paradise. And a man keeps on telling the truth until he becomes a truthful person. Falsehood leads to al-fujur [wickedness, evil-doing], and al-fujur leads to the (Hell) Fire, and a man may keep on telling lies till he is witten before Allah, a liar.” (Sahih Bukhari, Book #73, Hadith #116) Ultimate success is therefore achieved by living one’s entire life — the youthful years, the adult years, and the elderly years — being truthful.


In Step 3 we made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the CARE of Allah. This means we very selflessely turned ourselves to Allah.

“Next we launched out on a vigorous course of action, the first step of which is personal housecleaning, which many of us had never attempted.” (Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 63&64)

Step 4  can seem like a monumental task… a “searching AND fearless moral inventory”… but in its simplest terms it really is just about taking stock. What is working for us and what isn‟t? What are our assets and liabilities? Although many of us have led good moral lives, the content of our inner lives can be much different. How judgmental are we? How much of our lives do we spend worrying about the future? How long will we carry around a resentment? You may have heard this before, but any business that doesn‟t take stock of its inventory on a regular basis is bound to fail. People, too, need to take regular inventory of their assets and liabilities. Often, we hang onto behaviors and attitudes that once served a useful purpose but have long since turned into serious liabilities. Sometimes, too, we develop wonder ful traits — patience with others, for instance, or a deeper appreciation for life –but haven’t really noticed these changes either. Taking stock of our personal assets and liabilities — taking a good and honest look at our habits of attitude and action–is half of what Step 4 is all about. The other half involves figuring out a plan to keep the right stuff going and to get the wrong stuff stopped.

You may wonder how we can possibly know if we have done a proper job with Step 4. Some of us were such perfectionists we hardly knew where to begin, let alone end. How honest is “good and honest?” Were we even capable of real self- honesty? The truth is that nearly all of us were quite seriously crippled by fear, resentment and self- pity when we began our jo urney of recovery.   Step 4 is the searchlight that reveals these confounding bedevilments and helps us see what we must do to be rid of them. If we do a decent job with Step 4, we begin to see where we routinely invite muck into the house. We have a plan for how to get and keep our house clean. We are prepared for a serious house cleaning and we begin to feel free.

We’ve already said that taking Step 4 means taking stock of our habits of thought and action and making plans for replacing rotten ideas and behaviors with something better.   It is equally important to remember what Step 4 is NOT .   Step 4 is not about shaming ourselves. It is not just another creative way to abuse ourselves. Step 4 is also not about other people.   Step Four involves looking at how we, individually, reacted to the world NOT about what the world or individuals in it did to us.   “Though our decision was a vital and crucial step (Step 3), it could have little permanent effect unless at once followed by a strenuous effort to face, and be rid of, the things in ourselves which had been blocking us.” (Big Book, p.64) Most of us have spent our whole lives trying to get away from the turmoil inside by bingeing, purging, starving, engaging in perfectionism, people-pleasing, and more. We thought if we could run fast enough or work hard enough we could get away from ourselves.   Step Four therefore demands great courage of each us. Individually, we must make a decision to turn around and look directly at all those things we have been avoiding. Though we must do this for ourselves and by ourselves, we are never truly alone: we are standing on the shoulders of those who have gone before and we stand shoulder to shoulder with one another, taking responsibility for our lives at last. This may all sound quite awful, but Step 4 can be a very gentle process if done in the right frame of mind; please try and remember that as you embark on this part of the journey. We have abused ourselves long enough. Step 4 is part of the natural continuum of healing that you began with the first three steps.

Different EDA Members’ Step Four Experiences

“I will say that I had probably been writing my fourth step in my head for the last month, but as soon as I actually started writing it got so much better and easier to do. It isn’t yet completed and I am sure that I will constantly find more stuff to add to it until I meet with the person that will hear my fifth step, but it will be so much easier to add to a project that has already been started. I also know that I can do another fourth step later if I need to, it doesn’t have to be perfect and 100% complete this time as long as I am honest.” The 4th and 5th step are like the hump day of the workweek. Get past these and you’re well on your way to the weekend. There are lots of guides to doing an inventory and I think everybody has to find one that suits them. I remember being totally confused and overwhelmed by this step. But when a sponsor really got across to me that this is like a business looking at it’s shelves and seeing what is there and what is not there, objectively and thoroughly, I got started. It isn’t about blame or shame. It is about looking for and seeing what character traits, habits and thinking brought us to where we are. I was told that gett ing past the 4th and 5th meant going forward a whole stage in recovery. If you’re tired of relapsing get past these 2 steps. And I’ve found this to be true not only for me but for others I’ve seen recover. So just get started on the 4th. Don’t be afraid of it.”
“Now I actually do this on a daily basis as situations arise when ever possible. I think before acting and try not to react. For me this step is like the essence of “Mindfulness” a Buddhist principle. Basically you take a step back from the moment to observe it as if from the outside without judging or reacting. Once you master this you will be able to observe the situation from your own point of view and that of others and understand the reality of motives and emotions and how you are “reacting” to them.”
“Praying for the willingness to start and complete this step was the only way I could continue on my recovery. With my higher power and sponsor’s support I was able to take an honest searching and fearless inventory of myself. When finished, I sta
red at the paper that used to be blank. I thought to myself, “here are all of my „secrets‟ down on this paper.” I had a strange sort of relief as if I wanted to get rid of these “character defects”
“ASAP.” I prayed again to God to provide me with the willingness to share this with my sponsor and trust her with my “secrets” in Step Five.” “The point of the fourth step is not to justify our ill thinking and behavior, but to see where we (I)–not the other people– went wrong, so we (I) don’t have to wallow in misery and pain in the same way again, and so we (I) don’t have to go around blaming other people for our (my) misery. That attitude of blame, and the accompanying (sometimes unrecognized) feeling of victimization and self-pity, keep us stuck for as long as we hold onto them: they are the shackles of helplessness and of powerlessness. Well, the point of the steps, according to the Big Book, is to help us find a power by which we can lead sane and useful lives. Step four is where we cut those shackles that bind us to powerlessness.”


1. Get a notebook or journal just for the purpose of doing this step. Keep it in a safe
2. This step is meant to take a while. How long depends on how thorough you are willing to be. It is best not to try and complete a Fourth Step this in one sitting.
3. Pray  Salat Hajjat (prayer of guidance) each time before you start writing. Asking Allah to help you be fearless and thorough can be enough.

4. Don‟t go back and read what you have written and “edit.” Whatever com es out of your pen is what needs to be on the paper.
5. Make sure you have a sponsor to help you when you get “stuck” or let your
support people know what you are doing and ask for their support.



A.) Resentments

1. Make a list of the resentments you have (or had if this is your first time through the steps) on the left side of the paper leaving room on the right side and under each resentment for the second, third and fourth parts of this exercise. Write down the names of people, groups of people, institutions,  anything you have resentment about. Resentments can be recognized as memories that have a “sting” to them. Write down the names of the people you hold responsible for the sting in these memories.
2. In the right hand column write why you are or were resentful at that particular person or group of people. Was your pride or self-concept threatened? Were your relationships jeopardized? What was threatened or lost?
3. Under each resentment (on the left) and how it affected you (on theright), write down your part in it. Were you selfish, self-seeking, dishonest or petty? Remember this is YOUR inventory, not anyone else‟s. This is not a time to get angry all over again at what others did but to try and disc over patterns in the way we react to situations.

4. VERY IMPORTANT! For each resentment, ask yourself “If this happened
again, how might I respond differently? How would the person I most respect respond?” In many cases our outward response will not be very different, but our
new internal response involves an “Aha! There it is again!” aspect. Every time we see this situation play itself out, we get another chance to respond in a way that affirms us as whole, healthy, calm adults.
** Leave some room before going on to the next section in case you think of more resentment later.

B.) Fears:

1. Same format as above: make a list of fears you have (even if they seem ridiculous) on the left.
2. In the right- hand column write why you are afraid of whatever it is.
3. Underneath each fear, write what Allah would say to you if you were again experiencing this fear. If you can’t think of anything, don’ be alarmed. Ask your sponsor what Allah might say if she were experiencing this fear.

C.) Character Defects:

1. Below is a list of character defects. For each one, write examples of how that character defect has impacted your life. Give specific examples.
  • Perfectionism
  • Self-Pity
  • Self-centeredness
  • Selfishness
  • Dishonesty
  • Being judgmental
  • Gossip
  • Pride
  • Greed Intolerance/ prejudice
**Leave room after each of these exercises in case you think of other things to write down later.

D.) Patterns:

Look over everything you have written so far, and write a couple of paragraphs about patterns you see.

E.) Assets:

1. Make a list of all the things you like about yourself. These are characteristics that are often the flip side of the character defects listed above in part C. For instance:
  • Sense of Humor
  • Cheerful, enthusiastic
  • Thoughtful, caring
  • Generous, giving
  • Trustworthy, honest, open
  • Discerning, intelligent
  • Loyal, true friend Humble, respectful
  • Hard-working Tolerant and open-minded
  • Daring, courageous
  • Creative, inventive
  • Loving Even-tempered, calm
  • Fair Friendly, helpful

If you‟re having a hard time coming up with things to put down, ask people that you trust what they like about you. Before writing it down, ask yourself if you believe that is true. If you agree, then write it down. You have completed Step Four. Remember… if you did your best, it is good enough. A Fourth Step is never perfect and does not have to be. You have crossed a major milestone in your recovery. Celebrate! But don‟t stop here. On to Step Five…

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Mindfulness Training for Anorexia- Bulimia

Mindfulness Training for Anorexia- Bulimia


By Dr Irina Webster

Genuine Help for Eating Disorder Sufferers and Caregivers
Dr Irina Webster MD is creator of Women health Site and Eating Disorder Home Treatment Program that she developed based on her own personal experience with an eating disorder and many years of experience in this field. She has been working with eating disorder sufferers for 10 years.

 Eating Disorder is horrid, it plays tricks. It tells you that everything you feel is serious and paints everything in black and white, but reality is opposite.

Dear Readers,

Mindfulness is inherent to Islam and it can really change your life. Eating disorders are almost always accompanied by other disorders. You can use Mindfulness to overcome anxiety, depression and many other symptoms of Eating Disorders. I was asked a question on using mindfulness to beat eating disorder and whether or not it works. Mindfulness is the ability to exist in the present and it is often practiced via meditation and yoga. I use Prayer, Meditation and Recitation of Qur’an to practise Mindfulness. I think if I had discovered mindfulness earlier, the road to recovery could have been a little shorter. In my case, Mindfulness helped improve symptoms of anxiety and depression and re-connecting with my faith and food.

Please Watch this wonderful Video on Mindfulness by Sheikh Faraz Rabbani, scholar and researcher of Islamic law.


It is important to note that eating disorders usually cannot be treated by only one provider using one approach. A common approach to treatment is to use the treatment team approach. This team is usually comprised of a nutritionist, psychiatrist, physician and a counseling practitioner. Using mindfulness approaches is just one of many promising treatments to help treat the complexity of eating disorders.


To Learn Mindfulness – Learn how to apply mindfulness in your day-to-day life, outside of meditation, to raise your self-control. The more awareness the better.

Some Useful Information/Downloads:

Mindfulness based Approaches to Eating Disorders

Eat Drink and Be Mindful- This is a basic overview for a 10 week mindful eating group based on the work book, Eat, Drink & Be Mindful by Susan Albers

7 Mindful Eating Tips by NEDA

Enjoy this wonderful Article by Dr Irina Webster on Mindfulness in Treating Disorders.


Most  eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia are linked to significant stress, mood disturbance, anxiety, phobias, substance abuse, and physical complications. All these factors have to be addressed when people are trying to overcome their Anorexia- bulimia.

Mindfulness training is a technique which can help to cope with all these factors. Mindfulness means a calm awareness of body functions, feelings, emotions, thoughts and sensations. Mindfulness consists of paying attention to an experience at the present moment — without moving into thoughts from the past or concerns about the future. Using mindfulness training, people with anorexia – bulimia can attain control over their body and mind.

What exactly does mindfulness do for the mind and body?  The main benefits of mindfulness are:
1.Calm and quiet the mind. This will bring more happiness, joy, positive feelings, appreciation and gratitude in people’s lives.  It will also increase kindness to yourself and others which is necessary for ED people as they are often bad to themselves and others due to their conditioning.

2.Diminish the grip of habitual responses that causes suffering. ED sufferers all have certain habitual responses to their feelings, thoughts and emotions. For example, bulimics have habits to binge-purge at a certain time a day; anorexics have strict habits and routines about their diets and exercising.
Mindfulness can diminish these habitual behaviours to the point that the sufferer is able to choose how she/he is going to behave at a particular moment.

For example, instead of realizing 10-30 minutes later that you’ve been lost in bad thoughts about your body, weight, food, or your bad memories or fantasies from the past, you as a person can stop her/himself after only 30-60 seconds. With practise, people can increasingly observe these habitual responses and choose to respond in other more constructive ways.

3.Develop a stronger “observing self”. This means to observe what one does . It is like becoming a third person who sits inside your own chest and constantly watchs what you do.
Mindfulness makes a person  become an observer of what one does, think and feel.  This  helps you to have  better control over anorexic or bulimic thoughts and behaviours.

For example, when a person gets stressed, instead of reaching for alcohol or going on a starving or binge –purge cycle , the person  could simply sit and  observe the negative emotions and sensations which were brought on by the stress  until they go away.

Unlike relaxation techniques, mindfulness can be developed to the point where it can be practiced in the middle of stressful situations. So instead of reacting to stress a person starts to respond wisely. While being mindful a person can still remain alert and respond appropriately to the situation at hand.

4.Slow down the pace of thoughts and become more attune to the present moment.   Anorexia and bulimia sufferers often complain that they have too much continual inner “chatter” and images from the past or from the future in their minds.

This chatter and images don’t simply go away, because that’s the nature of the human mind. But they can settle down with practice. This settling down of mental processes bring relaxation and freedom. With practice one will have the ability to choose what to think about instead of being dragged along with uncontrolled thoughts and feelings. This effect can be experience just after 8-12 minutes of a mindfulness state of mind. So, if one practices mindful awareness at least 10 -15 min a day, it may be possible for him/her to choose what to think instead of their thoughts going uncontrolled.

Mindfulness will also increase your concentration and people can perform tasks , study and work with better accuracy. It also improves the immune system and general health. It regulates the autonomic nervous system which control automatic functions of the body organs. Mindfulness is a great anti- aging  factor as it improves metabolism of the cells.

Most of anorxics and bulimics who practice mindfulness find it  an incredible tool to beat their problem right at its root.

Dr Irina Webster



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Cultivating Shame Resiliency in Eating Disorder Recovery

Cultivating Shame Resiliency in Eating Disorder Recovery 


Dear Readers,

Please Join Castlewood Treatment Center for Eating Disorders for a Complimentary Webinar on Cultivating Shame Resiliency in Eating Disorder Recovery.

Wednesday November 19, 2014
12:00 pm – 1:00 pm CST

To Convert Seminar in Your Time Zone click here: Time Zone Converter

By: Katie Thompson, LPC, NCC, CEDS




Ms. Thompson has been a primary therapist at Castlewood Treatment Center for three years.  Katie graduated from Marquette University with a BA in Communications, Education.  She later earned a Masters of Science in Counseling Psychology from the University of Wisconsin — Milwaukee. Previously, she was a therapist at Rogers Memorial Hospital in the residential program for eating disorders and anxiety disorders.  Katie facilitates various groups at Castlewood, including all of the Eating Disorder groups, is an active participant in the research team and specializes in eating disorders and anxiety disorders; specifically binge eating disorder. Katie coordinates the Binge Eating Disorder Program at Castlewood Treatment Center and facilitates the BED groups in both the residential and PHP levels of care. She is skilled in using DBT, CBT, IFS, ERP and group therapy. Katie is trained in Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) and has earned her certification in Internal Family Systems Level 2. Katie lectures regionally and nationally on Eating Disorders, Binge Eating Disorder and treatment interventions.

Cultivating Shame Resiliency in Eating Disorder Recovery

When we are living immersed in toxic shame, we no longer experience shame as a necessary and helpful emotion that signals our limits, rather it becomes a state of being and this is intolerable for most humans.  The eating disorder is a strategy to disconnect a human from this toxic shame; this high conflict state of being.  The eating disorder protects the individual from their entrapping truth that they are a defective nothing and from the painful awareness and existence of this distorted system of seeing self. The eating disorder also simultaneously reinforces and recapitulates the very shame that created the original need for the eating disorder itself.  This recapitulation must be addressed, understood and remedied in effort to treat the whole person and facilitate long-term recovery from the eating disorder.  Shame Resiliency work allows the client to become present in the healing relationship of therapy when the client is most vulnerable with their traumatic injuries and ruptured sense of being a part of the human race. Shame Resiliency is the process of changing the way our clients experience humans and relationship with Self and Others from a threat to a safe space.  As a client develops a resiliency to shame, they will no longer need the eating disorder as a maladaptive strategy to mimic connection to others and the world.  In developing Shame Resiliency the client can finally be in relationship with Self and Others in a way that facilitates the healing of traumatic ruptures.

Learning Objectives: 

  1. Participants will be able to summarize how toxic shame develops within relationships and attachment.
  2. Participants will be able to define shame as a protector and the role of toxic shame.
  3. Participants will be able to describe the ways in which an eating disorder is a response to toxic shame.
  4. Participants will be able to describe how the eating disorder recapitulates shame and the original ruptures.
  5. Participants will be able to implement a process for cultivating and creating shame resiliency with clients.

To Join the Webinar, Click Here:
Webinar Registeration

Continuing Education:
1 clock hour or (0.1 CEU) is available through the National Board of Certified Counselors, the American Psychological Association, The California Board of Behavioral Sciences and the National Association of Social Workers.

Castlewood Treatment Center is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. Castlewood Treatment Center maintains responsibility for this program and its content.

Castlewood Treatment Center is an NBCC-Approved Continuing Education Provider (ACEPTM) and may offer NBCC-approved clock hours for events that meet NBCC requirements. The ACEP solely is responsible for all aspects of the program.

This course meets the qualifications for 1 hour of continuing education credit for MFT’s, LPCC’s, and/or LCSW’s as required by the California Board of Behavioral Sciences, per approval number PCE 5221.

For more information or any ADA needs please contact Deanna James at
You may cancel your registration to this webinar at any time. 

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Pakistan- Land of No ED Behaviours

Dear Readers,

The factors that contribute to the onset of an eating disorder are complex. It’s very surprising when you speak to different people and learn what contributed to their eating disorder. You discover that it differs from person to person, and recovery is a definite possibility but at the same time it will be different for everyone.

I spoke to this wonderful person from Pakistan and she shared her story of disordered eating with me. I thank her from bottom of my heart for sharing her story on this blog.

Pakistan No Land of Eating Disorder

Recovery is Loving Yourself

For me beauty correlated strongly with thinness and with time this set belief led me to adopt many eating disorder behaviors.  Low in weight, popular in school, college and university Ana (Anorexia) empowered me to become best at everything.  My friends envied my lifestyle and I was a happy person.

With time, this happy person turned into irritable person, unpredictable mood swings, low blood pressure, lack of energy, poor concentration, constantly angry and very controlling around myself, my family and my friends.

A person with an Eating Disorder knows what danger their body is in, but the fear of gaining weight is too intense to allow them to want to change.

But then one day in 2010, my mother looked at me and said, things need to change.

What do you mean? I ask her.

“You’re 23 years old your mood swings, your dominating personality,under eating are all a great concern to me and your father. You need to change!”

No! was my Answer. Maybe its you who needs to change, I thought in my mind.

My Mother:  “No one puts up with such outbursts, such controlling behaviors. We are your family, we are connected by blood, so it doesn’t affect us too much when you get very domineering, but it does affect people who are not your immediate family. They perceive you as proud arrogant person. Your a Good Daughter a good human being, but few of your habits and behaviors can really overshadow rest of your good traits. Beauty is not about looking good or wearing a perfectly tailored outfit, beauty is also about having right manners and good attitude to life and people around you. Your behavior, and way of communicating provide others with valuable insight into your character.  If your always angry, then people will perceive you as an angry person.”

And then my Mother told me, What Needed to Change.

1- No More Eating By Yourself- You Eat with Family

Mother, Ana doesn’t like Eating with people. I wanted to scream.

“You have to Eat with Family. A Girl from a Good Family does not Eat by herself. It’s disrespectful and very rude when a woman locks herself in her room and eats there. No place for such behavior here my daughter. This is Pakistan. Gossip spreads like wildfire. Trust me when you get married, this behavior will not be tolerated. People will talk and will point fingers at you.”

A Good Girl follows etiquette around eating and drinking and always Eats with Family. Simple, you have to Eat with people.

Ana is very Angry.


2- You have to Eat Three Times a Day- Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.

Ana does not like the sound of that. But Why?

Mother: “Your thin and weak. Your Doctor told you many times that your anger, mood swings are all a result of under eating, you pass out, your blood pressure is always low. In our culture, women are a source of strength, homemakers and the responsibility of care falls solely on their shoulders. When your married, you’ll need lot more strength. You’ll be caring for your husband and his family. They are not going to tolerate you skipping meals and you passing out because you want  to remain thin forever.”

Ana is livid, what kind of country is this? Eating Three times a day. Panic rises in my throat. I’m suffocating. Stop it Ana. Stop Crying, I scream.

3- Compromise: You have to learn to compromise, you can’t always have your way.

Ana loves having her own way. Ana doesn’t like the sound of word NO.

Mother: “Girls who don’t compromise, who don’t show tolerance are seen as home breakers, you don’t want that label do you? My mother challenges me. Such behavior is not something that can be handled lightly. It can be hard for everyone to spend time around you when you just want your way.”

Ana is Furious Beyond Words.

4- No More Mood Swings, Slamming Doors and Shutting People Out.

Mother: You have these mood swings, here at home we tread on egg shells around you. Anger is a characteristic that can damage and destroy relationships. We try not to do things that offend you or that may trigger your anger, but we never know what may set you off. Even your little niece looks at you with uncertainty. It can get exhausting, overwhelming and frustrating trying to get along with someone who must always be right, my child. “

But I don’t have mood swings, Ana protests, I only react when people provoke me and do things I don’t like. Ana is  self-centered, overbearing and domineering. She must be right at all times, and no matter what you say, she will argue with you.


Mother: “Look at your sister in law, look how humble, well-mannered and loving person she is. Do you think we would have tolerated her in this house, if she slammed doors, walked out on meal times, ate what she wanted to eat, had her own personal fridge, and stayed in her room by herself?”

No, I replied weakly.

Mother: “I’m worried, in fact your father is more worried. You’ll be getting married soon. I think we should’ve put a stop to these behaviors years ago, but we didn’t. But it’s still not too late, things can change and you need to change.”

That night Ana went to sleep exhausted, while I stayed up. A saner part of my brain knew that my mother was right. In My culture, there’s no place for such behaviors. I don’t want to gain weight, I thought to myself.  But they were all right. My sister in law is also my best friend. I chose her for my brother (sounds very strange, doesn’t it?). I chose my sister in law because she was beautiful, well groomed and articulate in everything. I wanted a sister in law who everyone looked up to and admired. This is a sad reality of my country, we really value beauty and appearances. We are so lucky that my sister in law is a beautiful person from inside out.

I made a decision to break out of Ana’s hold. I was engaged to a guy who I was deeply in love with. I knew when I married him, I’ll be marrying into his extended family. He’s the only son and has three sisters. After marriage I will be sharing a house with his mother and sisters.


In that household, there is no place for Ana.

You think ED affects no one- think again. ED is merciless and attacks everyone

You think ED affects no one- think again. ED is merciless and attacks everyone

It was a battle of three long never ending years. I didn’t want a third wheel in marriage and Eating Disorder is a Third destructive, self-centered element in marriage.  It was a struggle, a battle spending three full years on consuming three meals and two snacks to get to a healthy weight, working on my anger,  on my inner issues and finally accepting my body for what it is. Now in 2014 I can finally say that I’ve managed to break out of Ana’s hold. In December 2014, I will be getting married. I really look forward to it.

Eating Disorder Recovery is a Definite Possibility. You really have to want it and you really have to work at it. Recovery doesn’t happen overnight but over time and all I can say is that it’s worth it.

Recovery- It's worth it.

Posted in Eating Disorder Recovery Tips, Eating Disorder Stories, Eating Disorders, Eating Disorders Islam and Getting Married, ED Travels, Recovery | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Muharram Islamic New Year and Recovery from Eating Disorders

Maha Khan:

Journey to Recovery

Originally posted on Islam and Eating Disorders:

Muharram Islamic New Year and Recovery from Eating Disorders

Islamic New Year – رأس السنة الهجرية‎ Ras as-Sanah al-Hijriyah- 2013 began on the evening of Sunday, November 3. Muharram is the month with which the Muslims begin their lunar Hijrah Calendar. It is one of the most consecrated months in the Islamic calendar. It is a month of deep sadness, hope and blessings.

People who suffer from Eating Disorders often look at New Year with hope, a hope of recovery from their Eating Disorder, a hope to heal themselves of their disordered thinking, a hope to lessen some of the dangerous eating disorder behaviors, a hope that life will turn better with a New Year. We often promise ourselves that this coming year, we will take care of our mental and physical health, become more sociable and perhaps be free from the slavery of Eating Disorder. We strive for improvement…

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Tips on Coping With a Spouse with an Eating Disorder

Dear Readers,

This post comes after my lost post on Eating Disorders in Marriage. My Perfect Wife’s Perfect Eating Disorder.

Is it possible to have a happy and healthy relationship if you have eating disorder or are married to someone with eating disorder?

ED alters sufferes personality, like a drug, it can make one very low in confidence, ill, aggressive even, promiscuous, reckless and very self centred. With ED one is locked away in their own prison unable to communicate with the rest of the world. The ED tells them that they truly are a horrible person. They lose the ability to observe or analyse their own life, they have no understanding of their own behaviour and do not comprehend the risks they take when engaging in dangerous ED rituals. As a spouse of an Eating Disorder sufferer, dealing with such changes in personality is a tremendous challenge.

Always Keep in Mind:  Eating Disorder and a broken brain are largely invisible. The stigma of Eating Disorder exists in our society. It can cause a great deal of guilt and shame in sufferers. It’s imperative to seek treatment for ED as early as possible. Symptoms can become more severe over time, and for some people, ED can last for life time.

One of the greatest of deeds before Allah is showing kindness to the weak and the sick, taking care of them and looking after them. A relationship with an ED spouse can survive if the two people involved are fully aware of the illness they share and see their situation as a team effort and  make every effort to learn about and understand this disease together. They establish limitations and boundaries that must be respected in order for the relationship to exist and prosper. Honesty and a willingness to be open about the issues involved with eating disorder is vital.

I was asked by a husband on coping techniques. I’ve listed some below. I hope you’ll find them useful. Bear in mind as the spouse of an eating disorder sufferer, you may be called upon to do things you never thought you would ever have to do . You feel the ups and downs almost as painfully as they do. You are the one expected to be strong, take care of matters at hand. You are someone to be admired, you deserve admiration.

Some Coping techniques for Spouses of Eating Disorder Sufferers

You can take steps to help your spouse with ED. Learn about the disorder so you can relate to what your loved one is going through and know what to expect.  Encourage treatment as it’s paramount for recovery. Invite your loved one to accompany you for a walk or some other peaceful activity. It’s good for the person to rejoin the world. Show your support in all ways, and above all, be patient.

Keep in mind that in a given year, approximately hundreds of thousands of people suffer from ED. That means almost as many caregivers are dealing were with the disorder. You and your loved one aren’t alone.

  • You may dearly miss the person you fell in love with. Keep in mind that with proper treatments and your support, that person will come back to you. Eating Disorders can be beaten. Remind yourself that you can’t speed up the process of recovery as these things always take time.


  • Look for a support group for partners of ED sufferers. If there isn’t one in your area, consider starting one.
  • .Research and find reading material about Eating Disorders. Get to know what you and your spouse are battling against.
  • Go with your spouse to a few of his/her therapy sessions and talk to their therapist. Ask questions, listen to the therapist’s conclusions or views of your spouse’s care. Try to be interactive in their care rather than inactive. Don’t be overwhelming, though.


  • People who suffer from ED and enter recovery feel like they’ve lost control. Taking an active role in your loved one’s recovery can help to empower them. One good practice is to focus on repairing the rift the ED left behind. Encourage your loved one to spend time with family and friends and to leave the house for a little while each day.  The smallest action can help a person regain control.


  • Find time for yourself with such things as hobbies, walks, jogging, sports, and writing. Sometimes it helps to vent a bit of frustrated energy. You can go for a vigorous walk and clear your head.


  • When your partner is in a healthy mental state, talk to them about your needs and hurts. Don’t be confrontational, don’t blame, just gently tell them how you feel about things from your perspective. Forgive each other for unintentional hurt.

  • Remind yourself continually throughout the day that there will be better times ahead. Make it a mantra.



  • Allow yourself to reminisce about the good old times when you were both happy and give yourself hope that the good times will come again. Look through photographs of better days,  watch family videos. Spend time with the kids talking about funny family stories.


  • Eating Disorders are not a lifestyle choice- someone cannot simply choose to stop having an eating disorder. View your spouse’s illness as something you both have to fight as a team.

  • People often get stressed when their behaviors around food are questioned.

    Help monitor your spouse’s treatment/meal plan but don’t be military about it. “Just eat.” This might be your intuitive response to someone who refuses food — or to someone who’s bingeing, “Just stop eating.” These are among the least helpful comments you can make to someone with an eating disorder. Eating disorders have complex causes and can’t be willed away. Bear in mind there is a significant mental component and biological basis to the disorder which is preventing the sufferer from eating normally. With Eating, your loved one probably feels like control has been stripped away. Don’t make it any worse.

  • Help your loved one put feelings into words. Ask about specific feelings, and ask what you can do to help. Lastly, don’t give advice unless your loved one requests it.



  • If your spouse is hospitalized, ask family and friends to help out with the children, housework, cooking. Ask for help, this is very important.
  • When your spouse is enjoying good mental health, spend good time together. Go for walks, etc.

  • Try not to take unpleasantness personally. Your spouse’s Eating Disorder is not your fault . They may be emotional and irritable beyond belief. You must remember that most of the time it is the illness talking, not them. Remember the suffere is not trying to hurt YOU, it’s their illness that is lashing out at you.


  • Learn to relax when you don’t have to be on guard. Treat yourself ever so often. Allow yourself to sleep in one day a week.


  • Don’t argue with your spouse when they are in a deep ED state . It is of no use. Their ED will not allow them to see your point of view and it will just cause more tension for everyone. The symptoms of eating disorders are so alarming that it is easy to forget that there is still a person behind them. As much as you can, try to have normal conversations involving their interests and opinions, so that they feel there is a person that exists beyond the ED.
  • If your spouse is hospitalized, talk to their treatment team about their progress. It is a great way for you to get daily updates on your spouse’s condition. Total involvement increases the sufferer’s anxiety but ‘I’m with you and here for you whenever you need me’ works better.

  • Don’t have high expectations of someone in poor mental health or in recovery. You are setting yourself up for disappointment. “To love someone with all of your heart requires reaching them where they are with the only words they can understand.”
    Shannon L. Alder
  • Do not turn to unhealthy habits to take away your pain and frustrations. You need to be strong for you and your spouse’s welfare.

  • Laughter is always good medicine. Rent a few comedies and watch them. Laugh.
  • If you have become so resentful and angry at your spouse that you have begun to experience marital problems, consider visiting a marriage counselor when the spouse is mentally stable.
  • Don’t make body comments of any kind, these are simply unhelpful.
  • Don’t Force food on your loved one. Try to see food through their eyes – they are phobic about it and it frightens them. Remembering this can take some of your tension away.
  • Don’t blame everything on your spouse. It is not their fault that they are ill.
  • Don’t blame everything on yourself. That is not fair.
  • Try to focus on what is best for both of you. Don’t try to take over and cope for them.
  • Don’t get muddled up with all that is wrong with your spouse. Instead, look for the person trapped deep inside, the one you dearly love.


Recovery is not a simple linear path. Telling a person that they have to recover in a short amount of time will add even more pressure to them. Additionally, if they do not recover in the time limit you set, they will believe they have failed. Everyone is different and people recover at the rate that is relevant to them. This is not to say that you should not encourage, but do not place unachievable time limits on a person in recovery. Recovery does take a long time, so everyone involved needs to be patient. (



Supporting a partner with an Eating Disorder






Posted in Affirmations, Bulimia, Downloads, Eating Disorder and Islam, Eating Disorder Recovery Tips, Eating Disorders, Eating Disorders Islam and Getting Married | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

10 Tips for Understanding Someone with ED

Dear Readers,

Few tips for understanding someone with an ED. I received an E-mail from a father who believed that his daughter was refusing to maintain her weight because she wanted to punish the family for imposing rules on her. The sad fact about Eating Disorder is that it creates many problems and conflicts in the families.  Some families believe (where there is lack of awareness of this illness) that a person deliberately and consciously behaves in such distorted way (i.e. refusing to eat and refusal to give up dieting and exercise), when he or she is simply fine and nothing is really wrong with them.

Key is in getting equipped with the information and knowledge to understand ED.

Few months back, I was attending a workshop on PTSD and I was given this handout on heal my PTSD with


I’ve adopted the following information to help explain ED.

 10 Tips for Understanding Someone with ED

ED makes communication difficult. Many sufferers can’t find the words to express what they’re feeling. Even when they do, it’s very normal for them not to be comfortable sharing their experience. Elements of shame, fear, anger, guilt and grief often get in the way of a discussion.

Friends and family (and anyone else who is not the source of the ED but is standing by while someone attempts to heal) need something that translates ED language. Armed with knowledge, insight and awareness you’ll have an easier time knowing how to react, respond and relate to your ED loved one during the healing process. The more you appreciate things from the ED perspective the more helpful and supportive you can be. Now is the time for empathy, compassion and patience.

The list below will give you an overview of things to understand. For more in-depth information – plus content specifically geared for you, the caregiver – check out these booklets on ED.

How to Help Someone W ith an Eating Disorder

Eating Disorders

ParentToolkit- NEDA

#1 – Knowledge is power. Understanding the process of a triggering event, the warning signs and symptoms of ED, and available treatment options for ED allows you to help recognize, support and guide your ED loved one toward diagnosis, treatment and healing.

We need you to be clearheaded, pulled together and informed.

Please download this guide for free on Eating Disorder: EDA-Understanding-Eating-Disorders

#2 – ED changes us. In recovery we want to believe —as do you—that life can return to the way it was; that we can continue as who we were. This is not how it works. ED Leaves a huge and indelible impact on the soul. It is not possible to endure ED and not experience a psychic shift.

Expect us to be changed. Accept our need to evolve. Support us on this journey.

Supporting an Adult with an Eating Disorder Guide

#3 – ED hijacks our identity. One of the largest problems with ED is that it takes over our entire view of ourselves. We no longer see clearly. We no longer see the world as we experienced it before ED overtook our lives. Now every moment is dangerous, unpredictable and threatening.

Gently remind us and offer opportunities to engage in an identity outside of ED Prison.

#4 – We are no longer grounded in our true selves. In light of ED our real selves retreat and a coping self emerges to keep us safe.

Believe in us; our true selves still exist, even if they are momentarily buried.

#5 – We cannot help how we behave. Since we are operating on a sort of autopilot we are not always in control. ED is an exaggerated state of survival mode. We experience emotions that frighten and overwhelm us. We act out accordingly in defense of those feelings we cannot control.

Be patient with us; we often cannot stop the anger, tears or other disruptive behaviors that are so difficult for you to endure.

#6 – We cannot be logical. Since our perspective is driven by ED, we don’t always think straight, nor do we always accept the advice of those who do.

Keep reaching out, even when your words don’t seem to reach us. You never know when we will think of something you said and it will comfort, guide, soothe or inspire us.

#7 – We cannot just ‘get over it’. From the outside it’s easy to imagine a certain amount of time passes and ED gets relegated to the history of a life. Unfortunately, with ED nothing fades. Our bodies will not let us forget. Because of surging chemicals that reinforce every memory, we cannot walk away from the ED anymore than you can walk away from us.

Honor our struggle to make peace with events. Do not rush us. Trying to speed our recovery will only make us cling to it more.

#8 – We’re not in denial—we’re coping! It takes a tremendous effort to live with ED. Even if we don’t admit it, we know there’s something wrong. When you approach us and we deny there’s a problem that’s really code for, “I’m doing the best I can.” Taking the actions you suggest would require too much energy, dividing focus from what is holding us together. Sometimes, simply getting up and continuing our daily routine is the biggest step toward recovery we make.

Alleviate our stress by giving us a safe space in which we can find support.

#9 – We do not hate you. Contrary to the ways we might behave when you intervene, somewhere inside we do know that you are not the source of the problem. Unfortunately, in the moment we may use your face as ED’s image. Since we cannot directly address our ED issues sometimes it’s easier to address you.

Continue to approach us. We need you to!

#10 - Your presence matters. ED creates a great sense of isolation. In our depressed/struggling state, it makes a difference to know that there are people who will stand by us. It matters that although we lash out, don’t respond and are not ourselves, you are still there, no matter what.

Don’t give up, we’re doing our best.We want freedom as Well.

Posted in Affirmations, Bulimia, Eating Disorders, EDNOS, Inspirational Quotes, Recovery | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments