Weight Stigmatization- She’s too Fat to Marry Him. Rejection Hurts Deeply

In The name of Allah,The Most Merciful,The Most gracious

The Inner Beauty or Out?

Dear Readers,

She’s too fat to marry him. Rejection in First Meeting for Arranged Marriage Hurts Deeply….They ended the proposal because of my weight and the issues surrounding it. I spent my life hiding away and not talking to many people because of this stigma.

 War Against Eating Disorders/Islam and Eating Disorders is supporting BEDA’s

Weight Stigma Awareness Week 2014

Voices of Weight Stigma Awareness Week

Weight discrimination is prevalent in our society. We are lucky that our Media in Muslim World is not too focused on promoting malnourished looks, (as a sufferer from Egypt pointed out, Western Media is doing a very good job of that) If I switch on Al Arabiya, Royal Tv, Al-Hiwar, Rotana, or even some of the Pakistani channels, I feel immense relief at seeing women of all shapes and sizes.  This week, I would like to focus on weight stigma that people in our culture face. I can speak for my country, Pakistan and for some countries in Middle East where bias, stigma, and discrimination due to weight are frequent experiences for many  individuals especially women, which have serious consequences for their personal and social well being and overall health. We often overlook how this stigmatization threatens  individuals’ psychological and physical health by increasing the risk for depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, and body dissatisfaction. I interviewed this fabulous lady from Lahore on her experience with weight stigma. She very generously contributed her story to support BEDA’s Weight Stigma Awareness Campaign. Thank you so much and God Bless you.


In an enlightening hadith (prophetic narration), the Prophet tells us that no one with an ounce of arrogance in his heart will enter Paradise. In seeking to understand what arrogance means, the companions asked “O Prophet of Allah, what if a person likes to dress well?” The Prophet responded, “Allah is beautiful and loves beauty. Arrogance is rejecting truth and looking down on people” [Muslim]

My Weight Stigmatization Nightmare

I don’t know whether My story is  about discrimination or not (I leave you a judge for that), but I do feel like I have to put the whole thing out there, maybe it will help to relieve some of my pain and may get some people to think deeply about their words and their actions.


Even to this Day I feel perplexed about my inability to keep weight off. I wasn’t overweight as a child, but I steadily put on weight throughout my teens and things got gradually worse . I was 17, when my father passed away. We are a Shiite family. In my family there was no concept of women going out and earning a living. But due to circumstances, I was forced to bid good-bye to my education and find work. I found a job as a Maths teacher at a local government school. I was only 19 at that time. My aim was to make enough money to support my mother, my father’s widow sister who lived with us and my three siblings.

Time flew by and soon I was crossing 25. My mother became worried and started looking for suitable proposals. Each time a proposal came, I would rush home with butterflies in my stomach. My mother, aunt and sisters would be busy cleaning the house and I would make all the delicious dishes to welcome the guests. I would wear my nicest clothes and then after a long wait my mother would call me into the living room area where guests would be seated. As I would sit through the tea, a  complete interview would take place. I never ever failed to miss that flicker of surprise in their eyes. My mother and sisters are all very slender and to come across someone who was overweight was very shocking for them.  A popular reaction I would always get was: ‘She looked different in the picture! She looked younger and not very fat in the picture, why is she so fat in reality?’. Displeased, shocked, feeling cheated they would leave. Another refusal, another insult, another injury. I would suffer, My mother would suffer, and my family would suffer  but then we would  start the process again with the next family.

I wanted to get married, in our culture marriage and family dominate the lives of women, so I went to see a Doctor for my weight problem. He diagnosed me with hypothyroidism. He said I’ll lose weight Once I  started on my thyroid hormone replacement treatment program.  When I came home that day, me and my mother were giddy with relief. All night, I kept on looking at that magic bottle of pills. I was so naive to believe that after finishing that bottle weight will come off. So I took and took my thyroid hormone tablets and weight didn’t come off.

How sad, we reject people because of their colour, their features or their weight.

This continued and I turned 30 and the numbers on the scale also began to move up.  It was during those times that  a proposal came for me, and they picked my sister who was 22. They said, I looked 40+ and their son wanted a younger wife. This is a sad fact, in most Asian cultures a man in his mid to late twenties who is planning a family and kids is more likely to go for a younger woman if he can, rather than an older woman.

When my brother got married, I was 32. He had a love/arrange marriage. I had tried many diets in those times. I tried Chinese slimming oils, homeopathic treatments. But then within weeks, almost without exception, the weight would begin to creep back. I was also far more hungry and preoccupied with food than before I lost the weight. Anyone who has ever dieted knows that lost pounds often return, and most of us assume the reason is a lack of discipline or a failure of willpower, but what is clear is that some people appear to be prone to accumulating extra fat while others seem to be protected against it.

I saw the worry in my mother’s eye. She speeded up her efforts to look for a husband for me. It is quite difficult, especially in a traditional Shiite family, to find a partner who is suitable and belongs to the same sect.

And now whispers grew louder. Why isn’t she married? Why doesn’t she lose weight? I think she likes her freedom? She’s a working woman, these women love their freedom, they can never settle down and start a family. All these marks would cut at my heart. At work, I always felt a sense of rejection, when I was passed over for promotion. Can you just not lose weight? were the echoes of my fellow teachers, who were all married with children.  I think you should remove this scarf you wear on your head’, a fellow teacher told me. ‘I can’t do that, I told them, my mother has never crossed the threshold without her chaddor, how can I do that, I’ll feel exposed’. I felt so small in front of them.

And then it was time for my youngest sibling to get married, who was only 20. One of the popular belief was, a woman is considered less youthful once she crosses her twenties.

The atmosphere at my home was deteriorating. My sister-in-law was expecting her third child and felt house was too small for all of us. My brother is very easygoing, and always wants to keep his immediate family happy and therefore does not intervene when things are difficult.

Over 40, I started suffering from severe headaches, my ankles started swelling like crazy, and then I got a kidney stone. I also developed sores on my legs. With all those diets I fluctuated in weight, in a range of 50 pounds or so.

In a desperate bid, I tried to change my appearance. my flat shoes were replaced by 1 1/2 inch heel. I tried to wear more bright colors and added some color to my face to no avail. Some white hair started to appear and I would dye my hair several times a year.

So what is the 45-year-old  single Pakistani woman, stuck in this situation to do? I had no other option but to marry a man 25 years older than me, who lost his wife to illness several years back and needed someone to take care of him. Today as I near 50, I am content with my life But  as I sometimes reflect  upon my life, I  realize that I was discriminated even far more than I had originally thought. Much of that caused me to lose a great deal of self-confidence and caused me to have numerous social problems. I take care of my husband, who suffers from various health problems. I still teach and now I am seen as a most senior member of the school team.   Now I no longer dress to please others. I simply dress for myself, my husband has given me that much confidence in myself and I thank him for that.

The common wisdom is that for someone to hurt us, we have to let someone “get inside our head.” and these comments on weight and this weight stigmatization does hurt and at times cuts deep at one’s heart.

My message is that bear in mind we all are humans, wounds heal but not ill words. Don’t discriminate people, don’t stigmatize people, this causes harm and pain to the individual. Be Kind and noble.

“As a mother would risk her life to protect her child, her only child, even so should one cultivate a limitless heart with regard to all beings. So with a boundless heart should one cherish all living beings; radiating kindness over the entire world.”

Metta Sutta




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Islam and Eating Disorders: In Solidarity with BEDA on Weight Stigma Awareness Week

600WSAW2014 copy

Dear Readers,

War Against Disorders stands in solidarity with BEDA and supports their Weight Stigma Awareness Week 2014, #WSAW2014. Weight stigmatization threatens individuals’ psychological and physical health by increasing the risk for depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, and body dissatisfaction. The psychological toll of weight stigmatization can be devastating. Overweight youth who are stigmatized about their weight are 2-3 times more likely to engage in suicidal thoughts and behaviors compared with their overweight peers who are not stigmatized. According to Council on Size and Weight Discrimination: People who are larger than average encounter discriminatory attitudes and are denied equal opportunity in many areas of their lives: Prospective employers refuse to hire large size people, especially in jobs where employees do physical work, or jobs where employees interact with the public.

Our Message: End weight discrimination in health care, media, education, employment, social interactions, and many other areas of life. Lets Unite and Stand Together to make the world better for people of all sizes.

One thing You can do Today- “Don’t laugh at “fat jokes”. Interrupt sizism or weight discrimination when it is possible by pointing it out and expressing your opinion that it is wrong. Council on Size and Weight Discrimination

For Weight Stigma Awareness Week 2014, BEDA is featuring Tools That Build Conversations; toolkits to help you address bias and discrimination in professional settings including:

  • Medical care and your doctors office
  • School setting and activities programs for your child
  • Psychological support and your treatment provider
  • Nutrition counseling 
  • Movement experts and physical therapy

For more Information visit:BEDA

I hope you’ll join this campaign. If you feel stigma and discrimination are  destructive and wrong, I encourage you to join us and BEDA in our efforts to end this widespread discrimination. You can join us by displaying BEDA’s logo on your website, blog or social site. For more Information, please visit. Weight Stigma Awareness Week 2014 – Social Media

What is Weight Stigma – 2014?

Weight stigma is what a person experiences when weight bias is internalized as being ‘deserved’.  This occurs frequently today, resulting in larger people feeling shame, anxiety, depression, and self-hatred. These diminish a person’s body esteem and motivation for self-care.

Weight bias is negative judgment based on weight, shape, and/or size.  It fuels both explicit and implicit harmful actions by individuals and organizations, including social rejection, bullying, hate-speech, “fat jokes”, and exclusionary behaviors that create inequities in social access, employment, healthcare, and education.

Weight stigma and weight bias are cultural problems that affect almost every aspect of life for many people. This includes the ability to learn and the ability to participate fully in the economy and other important components of a thriving society.

Because of the interrelatedness of bias and stigma, demoralization and eventual complacency surrounding healthy choices is a logical consequence when larger people, especially children, remain targets of bias even when they eat well and are physically active.  

Common ideas fueled by weight bias include the belief that people larger than the “ideal” shape or size:

  • are lazy
  • lack self-discipline
  • have poor willpower
  • lack intelligence
  • have the ability to become and remain thin—body shape, weight, and height, as well as other physical features, are unique to the individual and perceived differently depending on culture. While it is environmentally influenced, weight in particular is largely genetically determined. Because of this, not all bodies can or should aim to achieve a standardized ideal of thinness, of shape, of size, or of body composition.

Equating “thinness” with health can lead to harmful assumptions that also contribute to weight bias and its consequences, ultimately reducing everyone’s ability to be healthy regardless of size or shape.  Indeed, thin individuals are also harmed by commonly-held beliefs that being thin is synonymous with good health.  Thinness is often confused with character or rigid discipline and because of this, thinner-bodied people can be neglected when they are unhealthy or in need of help.[1]

Weight stigma and weight bias are cultural problems that affect almost every aspect of life, including mental and physical health, social interaction, employment opportunities and the learning environment for people of all ages.[2]  Children are especially at risk for experiencing weight stigma due to their stage of development, as childhood and adolescence are periods where the impact of weight bias through peer comments and behaviors shapes self-image, body image, and development of social skills needed in adulthood.[3]

Weight bias, and by extension weight stigma, are behaviors and beliefs that can be changed.  They are human rights issues as well as issues of community wellbeing and as such it falls to our advocates, national leaders and government to develop programming that supports environmental and personal practices free of weight bias.  Together, we set the tone.


[1] Wildman, Rachel P. PhD; Paul Muntner, PhD; Kristi Reynolds, PhD; Aileen P. McGinn, PhD; Swapnil (2008) – Source: Archives of Internal Medicine, 168(15)

[2] Puhl, R.M, & Heuer, C.A. (2009). The stigma of obesity: A review and update. Obesity, 17, 941-964

[3] Bucchianeri MM, Eisenberg ME, Neumark-Sztainer D. (2014). Weightism, racism, classism, and sexism: Shared forms of harassment in adolescents. Journal of Adolescent Health, 53, 1, 47-53

Source: http://bedaonline.com/weight-stigma-awareness-week-2014/weight-stigma-2014/#.VCAfwVfRVK0

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Broader View on Bulimia: Bulimic and Anorexic Issues

Bulimia Secrets

Broader View on Bulimia: Bulimic and Anorexic Issues

Bulimia Secrets


Dear Readers,


I was asked a question on Bulimic and Anorexic issues. I found this great article by Kate Walsh from Bulimia Secrets. Please read below. It’s amazing.


Kate Walsh is the eating disorders’ researcher and publisher who is interested in the psychology behind the eating disorders. Bulimia in particular is the subject of her deep interest. After many years of the research, she has started to share the information which might help people in their recovery.

Bulimia Secrets


No one starts out not liking themselves or purposely lowering their self-worth. Losing control happens over time and is the result of a variety of circumstances and sub-conscious thoughts. We subconsciously allow others to take control of how we feel about ourselves and when we lose control and don’t know how to correctly take it back; we then get ourselves into trouble. Bulimics and Anorexics get themselves into trouble with food.

In the past several decades, how society thinks has drastically changed about how one looks to themselves and to others, the amount of stress and increased dramatically for many people, the responsibilities and requirements that must be done each day is much greater than before. Many people try and find an out from the everyday stresses, a way that they can relieve the unwanted stress even if it’s temporary. Food has become extremely accessible as it is not only cheap but food can be found just about anywhere anymore; food, for some, has become an avenue of release for these life pressures.

More often than not, Bulimic and/or  Anorexic will not recognize that they have an eating disorder; they will not admit that they have any eating problems at all. Resistance will occur because they will defend themselves as they don’t want to be looked down upon or feel ashamed of the fact that they do have a problem. Any addiction is very hard, for anyone, to stop without help.

When life doesn’t treat us well, we tend to turn to things that make us feel better. Sometime we need a crutch, a little assistance, to get through our days. Stress, peer pressure, anxieties from our surrounding environments can cause us to go a little crazy and push us to find a way out. An eating disorder is considered a psychological illness; an illness that can be very destructive to one’s self, physically and mentally that can be caused by our surroundings.

Eating disorder sufferrers believe that people judge them by how they look and who they are. Fitting into society and how society thinks can take a toll on anyone. Allowing others to control one’s thinking, to lower one’s self-worth, to reduce one to feel that they are nothing can become overpowering. Using food to deal with these negative feelings is how people with eating disorders deal with issues; overeating or not eating enough and then purging what has been eating makes them mentally feel better, but only at the time the binging and purging occurs.

Listening to others talk down to you over and over begins to repeat by itself within one’s own mind. Beginning to dislike or even hate yourself, believe that you are too fat, that you don’t fit into any worthy group in society, losing control of circumstances or of life itself can push one into finding something that can provide relief. Binging and purging is often found as a relief for a bulimics and eventually it turns into a cycle that causes major destruction of the body and mind.

Not having the knowledge of how to successfully deal with a situation or problem makes one feel that they are not capable. This lowers one’s self-worth and can create mood swings and depression. When one loses control and is unable to thrive, the quality of life will suffer. For those who are Bulimic and Anorexic, food allows an option to find a temporary release; there is hope to correct these eating disorders, there are people and places that can provide an understanding as to why the eating disorder occurs and how to stop it.


Bulimia Secrets

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Clean Eating, vs Islamic Eating and Eating Sugar in Eating Disorder Recovery

Clean Eating vs Islamic Eating and Eating Sugar in Eating Disorder Recovery

Eating Disorders are curable: An early intervention will improve the long-term prognosis- Get help Now!!

Dear Readers,


A reader in recovery from her Eating Disorder from UAE asked me a Question about Eating Sugar in recovery. She also asked me a Question on clean eating. When I was at the Eating Disorder Unit, we had to eat sugar (and this was in fruit juices and desserts) we also had to eat the foods which have the power to shock your senses and make your Eating Disorder weep.  I was attending a workshop on Nutritional Approaches to the Management of Eating Disorders and Eating Distress in Richmond with the Institute of  Optimum Nutrition (ION), where I found Answers to these Questions.

The Course was delivered by Jane Nodder:





Jane is a nutrition practitioner who works at the University of Westminster, London as Deputy Course Leader, Senior Clinic Tutor and Senior Lecturer for the BSc (Hons) Complementary Medicine, Nutritional Therapy, and Course Leader for the MSc Nutritional Therapy.


According to Jane Nodder if your suffering from an Eating Disorder, are in Recovery or have a. History of Eating Disorder than eliminating a food group from your diet is not recommended.  This is because one Eating Disorder behaviour leads to another , cutting out one food group to cut calories will lead to cutting out another food group.

JAne Nodder MScNutMed, BA, Dip ION, mBANT, CNHC


Clean Eating vs. Islamic Eating

What is Clean Eating?

According to Karin Kratina, PhD, RD, LD/N “fixation on righteous eating.”  When Healthy Eating Becomes Unhealthy. This is termed as ‘Orthorexia’. Orthorexia is a term coined by Steven Bratman, MD to describe his own experience with food and eating.  It is not an officially recognized disorder in the DSM-V, (the manual that is used to determine and define mental disorders) but is similar to other eating disorders. Experts say orthorexia becomes life-threatening when people’s food restrictions make it impossible for them to take in enough calories and nutrients to maintain good health.

According to Jennifer Culbert (SAR’09), a registered dietician at the Sargent Choice Nutrition Center, society’s growing interest in organic and healthy foods, has made some people fearful of ingredients like fat, sodium, and sugar—all of which are important, albeit in moderation, in a person’s diet.

When ‘pure’ eating goes too far, victims’ health suffers.

In Eating Disorder Recovery  there is no Clean Eating, You eat a well-balanced meal to bring balance back to your body to repair serotonin pathways in your brain, reverse biochemical imbalances,  anosognosia and the malnourishment. By adopting ‘clean eating’, ‘cutting out food groups’, you further prolong your chances of recovery.  Your Eating Disorder brain, which is your subconscious brain is expecting these behaviours, that’s why some people after spending months on clean eating, restricted eating find that their mind is still in turmoil and they are still experiencing disordered thoughts. Some ask, ‘but I’m eating all that is pure, all that is healthy, why is my mind in such turmoil’? ‘why am I still experiencing dips in mood?’   Answer is simple:  your still malnourished, your neurotransmitter serotonin pathways are still hugely depleted and finally along with your brain your body has also caught up with your disordered ways. Your body no longer trusts you, no longer trusts you to feed her and nourish her, a serious breach of trust has taken place here.

In Islam we don’t have a concept of cutting out food groups,  clean eating or extreme diets (Unless advised by a practitioner on medical grounds).

With clean eating people cut whole groups of foods out of their diets. They cut out meat because they think that meat is bad, then they cut out dairy because they think it’s fattening, and then they move on to sugar and then anything that’s processed. Clean Eating leads to development of an Eating Disorder, it leads to malnourishment and ill-health. Anything that is injurious to your health or is out of balance is disliked in Islam.

Qur’an says: “O Messengers! Eat of the wholesome things and perform virtuous deeds”.


A wholesome, balanced diet is an important part of Islamic life. Analysis of various verses from the holy Qur’an clearly show that the foods spoken about in it, will fulfil one’s daily protein, carbohydrate, fat and vitamin requirements.

Qur’anic verses speak about the importance of balanced diet among other things:

meat (6;118)
dates 6;141)
milk (16;66)
olives (wat-Teen)
pomegranates (6;141)
figs (wat-Teen)
fish (16;14)
honey, etc.


What we are eating now is very different from that of our recent ancestors and from the times of Prophet Muhammad (saaw). Food production and manufacturing techniques, coupled with changing lifestyles and increasing access to processed foods, mean that our intake of fresh, nutritious, local produce is much lower, but this by no means or imply that we go on one of those aesthetic diets or cut out food groups from our diet. We have to stay within balance, eat what is local, fresh and available.

In this area I fully support Jane Nodder’s argument, stick to Structured Eating and round the Clock Eating. Here you simply cannot trust this demon of Eating Disorder that is coaxing you to try one of these so-called clean diets, no fat diets and no sugar diets. This demon is not your friend, is not interested in your well-being or your health. So take Charge and do what professionals and practitioners in this field recommend:

Eat three regular meals and two good healthy protein carbohydrate based snacks in between throughout the day to maintain blood sugar levels. Missing meals, especially breakfast, leads to low blood sugar and this causes low mood, irritability and fatigue.

Feed The Body Free The Mind

Healthy recipes to boost your mind- Download recipes from Feeding Minds guide, including dishes by Anthony Worrall Thompson and other celebrities. Healthy Mind Recipes



Sugar can be part of a healthy lifestyle but it should be eaten in moderation.  Sugar deprivation is associated with an imbalance of dopamine and acetylcholine in the nucleus accumbens (the ‘reward centre’ of the brain).  Sugar detox and No-Sugar Diets can really prolong the chances of recovery, and such behaviors and elimination practises simply make the demon of Eating Disorder very Happy. Also eating three well balanced meals and two snacks in between keep your sugar levels balanced and act as a detterent to Sugar Cravings.

Replacing Sugar with Artifical Sweetner?

Research suggests that artificial sweeteners do not activate the food reward pathways in the same fashion as natural sweeteners, for lack of caloric contribution tends to eliminate the post-ingestive component which acts independently of whether or not you’re ‘full’.


According to Shaye Boddington from Bulimia Recovery:

Sugar is not the demon that it’s made out to be. Of course eating massive quantities of sugar is not healthy – but when a healthy person eats sugar in moderation, it’s completely okay.”

Enjoy sugar in moderation!

Recovery is about developing flexibility around what you eat – it’s about letting go of the rules. Life is far, FAR more fun that way :) Love Shaye.


A Great Book On Sugar, it dispels many myths on eating sugar. Please download here: Mind Body Sugar.

mind body green bulimia sugar

Download Sugar Link from: Bulimiarecovery.com




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4 Steps On How to Do Dynamic Meditation For Eating Disorder.

4 Steps On How to Do Dynamic Meditation For Eating Disorder

Dear Readers,

Please find below 4 steps on how to do Dynamic Meditation for Eating Disorders by Dr Irina Webster. I found this Exercise brilliant and a great aid in my recovery from Eating Disorder. All you have to do is set aside 15-20 minutes everyday for your well-being, for your healing and Inshallah you’ll soon see the results.  Trust me it all helps especially when your in early stages of recovery and dealing with anxiety and panic, try these dynamic and healing visualisation techniques and you’ll see the great results. Use everything in recovery and reclaim your power from the demon of Eating Disorder.


By:DR Irina Webster

Genuine Help for Eating Disorder Sufferers and Caregivers


You can do two different kinds of meditation, Passive or Dynamic.

Passive meditation is when you put yourself into a meditative state (an Alpha state) using just relaxation techniques. Passive meditation is very helpful for stopping your obsessive thoughts, eliminate worry, guilt and anger. But once you have reached a meditative level to just wait for constant improvement is not enough because you are likely to relapse in the mean time.

What I suggest you should do is to go beyond passive meditation and train your mind for organized dynamic activities.

By dynamic activities I mean to add on to your meditative practice a healing visualisation technique. This technique requires you to visualize yourself as a healthy, happy and vibrant person while you are on a meditative level in your mind.

There are four steps involved in this:

1step. Go into a meditative level, the alpha state like you do in normal passive meditation. You can do counting or just sit quietly and focus on your breath or other parts of your body. Do this for at least 5-6 minutes or as long as it takes for you know that you achieve a passive meditation level.

What is the Alpha State and How do I reach it?

Alpha State Exercise Foundation Level Step By Step

2 step. Imagine there is a screen in front of you like when you’re at the movies. Imagine on the screen yourself in your current condition – whatever you are like now: stressed from an eating disorder, binging and purging, starving yourself, overexercising or taking laxatives. See what you really look like now. Relive these feelings for the moment.

3 step. Stop thinking of this scene and imagine gently pushing it off the screen to the right hand side. Now, on the empty screen imagine another scene where you are healthy, vibrant, radiant, confident and happy. No signs of illnesses or any conditions should be on the scene. Visualize every detail of your ideal “you”. Visualize it vividly and feel the feelings of what your ideal “you” should feel like happiness, joy, pride, confidence etc.

Now play with this image, put colour into it, action and pictures. What do the clothes you are wearing look like, they should invoke good feelings, imagine yourself doing something useful and positive, visualize people around you, see yourself sharing a meal with these people chatting happily, enjoying yourself. Do this for at least 10-15 minutes.


4 step. Finish visualization by counting from 1 to 10 and open your eyes.

Now you can be confident that you have just put forces in motion through visualisation that will make you healthy, free and happy. As you gradually increase your skills doing this, you will notice that you will be able to believe in your progress towards curing your eating disorder more and more. In time and with practice the results you achieve doing this kind of dynamic meditation will astound you more and more.

I recommend you repeat these dynamic meditation techniques at least twice a day: in the morning after getting up from your bed, and at night just before going to bed. If follow these techniques and do it regularly and correctly for at least one month, you will be surprised at how good you will feel.

You will become more confident, your belief system will change for the better and you will see yourself as a much more powerful person than you use to be before beginning to do these dynamic meditation techniques.


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8 Meal Planning Tips Used in Recovery

Bulimia Help

8 Meal Planning Tips I Used in Recovery



By: Catherine Liberty

Catherine Liberty


Dear Readers,

Another Excellent article by Bulimia Help. I’ve been asked lots of Questions on Structured Eating and Meal Planning. Catherine Liberty shares her experience of structured eating with us. You’ll find these tips by Coach Catherine very helpful in recovery.

Bulimia Help

Happy Reading!


meal plan for bulimia recoveryI will never forget the disbelief I experienced when I first discovered that a typical meal plan for bulimia recovery consisted of three meals and three snacks a day. Or the fear that came along with the realization that I needed to eat at least 2000 calories a day… every day.

Back then I honestly didn’t think it was possible (or normal) for a person to eat that much food!

Yet I was so desperate to stop being bulimic that I made some choices.

  • I chose to face my food fears.
  • I chose to be brave.
  • I chose to put my trust in people who really understood what they were talking about (thanks Richard and Ali).
  • Ali and Richard Kerr founders of Bulimia Help

To say it changed my life is an understatement. Now fully recovered I dedicate my life to helping others to find their freedom from bulimia via Bulimia Help’s Recovery Coaching Program.

You never chose to become bulimic, but today, right here, right now, you CAN choose recovery. You can choose to be brave, as I did back then.

If you truly want to recover then regular, balanced, non-restrictive eating is a non-negotiable part of the process.

Creating a solid meal plan for bulimia recovery can really help you to get started.

That said, I really do appreciate how daunting the idea of creating your own recovery meal plan can be, especially if you don’t know that much about nutrition or ‘normal’ eating.

Luckily, the process of planning nutritionally balanced meals for recovery is no where near as complicated as it may seem. Even if like me you won’t have the luxury of working with a Registered Dietitian, creating you own meal plan for bulimia recovery is still a really good idea.

If you’re struggling to create a meal plan for bulimia recovery then try following my tips for meal planning success. I did all of these things during my my own recovery from bulimia and found them to be essential to the process.

Tip 1. Learn about the importance of structured eating

Understanding how and why structured eating works for recovery is a big first step. It will help you to feel motivated, empowered and ready for change.

Structured Eating

Meal planning needs to play a key component in your bulimia recovery. Put simply if your planning to recover from bulimia you need to start planning your meals.

A lot of people are apprehensive about meal planning and eating to a strict schedule when starting recovery, and it’s not hard to understand why.

For the majority of us, the only times we’ve ever found ourselves deciding on what we’ll eat ahead of time, or creating set meal plans, is when we’ve been stuck in a desperate cycle of restriction.

But in those early days of recovery, creating meal plans and structuring your eating is vital if you are to be successful. On this page you’ll learn about the importance of structured eating and how to start creating your own recovery meal plans. 

What is structured eating?

Structured eating is really the backbone of bulimia recovery. It involves making yourself available to do planned eating at planned times each day. While following a structured eating plan you try to:

  • Eat three meals and three snacks a day, every day.
  • Eat regularly, leaving no more than 3 hours between meals and snacks.

Constant bingeing and purging desensitises you to natural hunger and satiety signals, gives you a warped perception of portion sizes, and really forces your body to forget how to eat naturally. But the good news is that normal eating is a skill that can be learned.

1. Why do I have to eat three meals and three snacks?

Eating this amount of food can be a very scary step because basic logic would make you think if you increase your food intake then you will also increase your weight. But it is never that simple!

When you have bulimia your body fights back, doing everything it can to ensure you do not lose weight. Including lowering your metabolism, storing anything you do eat as fat rather than using it for energy, kicking off massive food cravings and giving you an insatiable appetite!

By using structured eating you are telling your body it will get a steady stream of nutrition, therefore it does not need to send out powerful cravings to binge.

2. Why do I have to eat so regularly?

Eating regularly and spacing your meals in this way gives a massive boost to your metabolism, increases your energy levels and dramatically helps to reduce binge urges associated with distressed hunger.

This is an example of a time frame for structured eating:

07.30am – wake up

08.30am – eat breakfast

10.30am – mid morning snack

1.00pm – eat lunch

3.30pm – mid afternoon snack

4.30pm – another snack

6.00pm – dinner

8.30pm – evening snack

11.00pm – Time for sleep

Creating your structured eating plan

Creating a plan involves planning meals in advance, deciding what will be eaten, when and how much. Planning meals and times in advance takes the stress and strain away from deciding what to eat and when.

How to do this:

  1. Print off this meal planning sheet- Menu Planner Pdf
  2. Think about what you will eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner and what snacks you will eat in between.
  3. Choose foods you feel comfortable eating, you may decide to avoid trigger foods initially at this early stage.
  4. If you do not have your food available, then it is a good idea to do a grocery shop.
  5. Packed lunches can help – plan them and prepare tomorrow’s meal.
  6. Plan the times when you will eat breakfast, lunch, dinner and your snacks. (See the print off for more examples)
  7. Try to keep as close to your structured plan as possible.
  8. It can help to plan your meals and snacks the night before.

Your structured eating plan should include…

  • A full breakfast
  • A full lunch
  • A full dinner
  • Snacks in between meals to stop you getting too hungry

How do I know how much food to eat?

Some people find roughly keeping track of calories can help, while others look to what others eat for ideas, buy food that is individually portioned or seek advice from a qualified nutritionist.

How long should I use a structured eating plan for?

Most people in recovery find that they need to stick to some form of structured eating plan for AT LEAST 6 months.

Eating in a mechanical way can become emotionally draining at times, and may even feel like a diet. But know that structured eating is not a diet, it is an eating method that allows you to lay the foundations of your new bulimia free life.

Starting to normalize food intake can be scary so think of this as an experiment…

If after 6 months you are dissatisfied with the results you can always resume back to your former eating style – although, I can assure that you will not want to do that!

Helpful tips before you begin

  • Understand that small fluctuations in body weight are to be expected.
  • Keep your food plan simple and try not to obsessively count calories.  
  • It’s okay to stick to foods you feel safe eating but do try to include all of the major food groups. 
  • It’s okay to initially avoid your main “trigger foods.”
  • Remember food planning is work-in-progress aimed at normalizing food intake and normal eating behaviour, don’t expect to get this “perfect.”
  • Consider keeping a record of your food in a food journal to get a better understanding of what works for you and what doesn’t.  
  • Understand that you just can’t trust natural hunger and fullness sensations at this time so you may have to eat when you don’t feel hungry and stop before you feel full. 



Tip 2. Download our free Meal Planning PDF

You can download a copy of our Free Meal Planning PDF -Menu Planner Pdf

This short guide and workbook outlines the same step-by-step process that I used to create my own balanced meal plans for recovery. The guide also covers the essential steps of meal planning, explores some example meal plans and includes some simple, practical advice on food portioning and gradually building confidence around food.

Tip 3. Plan well balanced meals from day one

I can not stress this enough – the sooner you commit to eating regular, balanced meals, the sooner you are going to see the amazing benefits that recovery has to offer you. So while it’s fine to introduce new or triggering foods slowly, it’s best to plan nutritionally balanced meals from day one.

For recovery meal planning that means including some carbohydrate, fat and protein with EVERY meal. It also means striving to eat a good balance of foods from each of the main food groups overall.

It’s a big step, it’s going to challenge you, but you are more than capable of pulling this off. Your body needs this constant balance of food to recover. Striving for food-balance from day one is something I attribute to my own success. I believe it is the main reason I was able to avoid relapsing early on.

Tip 4: Ensure any meal plans you create reflect YOUR needs

I know it’s tempting to make food comparisons. You see people living seemingly healthy lives on low-carb or low-calorie diets and you desperately want to do the same, but right now I need you to remember that you are recovering from a life threatening eating disorder.

Your body is exhausted and you are likely suffering from malnutrition. Your basic nutritional needs may be vastly different to other peoples.

Please understand that what the other people around you are eating has nothing to do with what is best for you to eat, especially while you’re recovering from bulimia.

Tip 5: Allow some flexibility with your meal plans

There will be times when, for one reason or another, you just can’t stick to a meal plan, and that’s okay. There is no need to panic. It’s okay to allow some flexibility when needed. Even without a plan you can still make food choices that support your recovery. If you always strive for balance and you always strive for non-restrictive eating then your best IS good enough.

Tip 6: Keep any meal planning excuses in check

When you first start to create and follow your meal plans you are going to face some new challenges.

  • You may find it difficult to plan meals around your work or study schedule.
  • You may struggle to find the time to plan and prepare regular meals due to child care commitments.
  • You may worry about what others will think or say of the change to your eating patterns.

If you live a busy or emotionally chaotic life then even as you’re reading this your brain is likely bombarding you with you with reasons and excuses as to why you ‘can’t’ make the time to meal plan in recovery.

As hard as this may seem right now, I promise you that for every challenge in recovery there IS a solution, you just have to be willing to find it. You have to be willing to start facing your fears. By taking the time to plan your meals you can reduce a lot of the stress and pressure that comes with making food choices that are supportive of recovery.

Tip 7: Use food-facts to counteract your meal planning fears

When you understand exactly how the food you’re eating is facilitating your recovery you are going to have more motivation to stick to your meal plan, so take some time to explore the benefits of eating certain foods.

For example, before recovery I used to be terrified of eating anything that contained fat, so when it came to following through with the nutritionally balanced meals that I’d planned, I would remind myself of the many health benefits of eating fat and focus on the factual benefits rather than the misguided fears.


Tip 8: Understand that all foods have a place on your meal plan

We all want to eat healthily, but a big part of recovery involves cultivating what I like to call a ‘healthy eating attitude.’ To me, someone with a healthy eating attitude strives for balance and eats a nutritionally rich diet, but also allows themselves to eat other, less typically ‘healthy’ foods like chocolate, sweets and fast food, in moderation.

You may feel out of control around these types of foods right now, but by gradually including them in your meal plan will allow you to create a normal relationship with them over time. Take a look at my article on introducing triggering foods during bulimia recovery if you’re struggling with this.

Are meal plans absolutely essential to recovery?

Generally meal plans will be more of a help than a hindrance, especially in the early stages of your recovery, however if you’re someone who finds the meal planning process to be especially triggering then it’s okay to try out a more relaxed approach.

In truth, meal plans are not always necessary but structured eating IS. So if you feel confident enough to make balanced food choices in the moment then go for it, but I would still urge you to eat mechanically, by the clock, because you just can’t trust your intuitive hunger and satiety cues at this stage.

Be bold and be brave!

When you’re sat there with your first meal plan for bulimia recovery in hand and you look down at the pages it is going to feel like you’re asking yourself to eat A LOT of food.

You’re going to feel that it is ‘too much’ food, but I promise you, it’s not.

I urge you to be brave, and to take comfort from the knowledge that the sooner you give your body the nutrients it is craving, the sooner you will be waving goodbye to those overwhelming bulimic urges that brought you here in the first place.

In health and love,

Catherine Liberty


Catherine Liberty







Posted in Bulimia, Bulimia Help, Eating Disorder Recovery Tips, Eating Disorders, Eating Guidelines | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Step 2 of Eating Disorder Recovery – 12 Islamic Steps

Dear Readers,


Welcome to Step 2. I hope Step 1 enabled you to understand more about your struggles and your illness. In Step 2, we acknowledge our ED more in-depth and we look into our thought patterns and acknowledge the higher supremacy of our Rabb, Allah.


We came to believe that Allah could and would restore us to sanity.


The idea of “insanity” makes many of us initially think of people who are completely out of control. That isn’t us, is it? Sometimes we’re not out of control but over controlling. To consider our own behaviour insane” can seem far-fetched. Isn’t an insane person somebody who can’t use their mind? Most of us are very much able to think logically, aren’t we? Maybe we’re even thinking too much at times. Besides, the idea of “insanity” can create visions of hopelessness.

  • Are we dangerous for ourselves or others?
  • Should we be locked away in a psychiatric ward forever?
  • Are we useless burdens on society? If we’re admitting to acting “insane” at times, does this mean we’re declaring ourselves worthless?

No, it does not. However, it might be helpful to closely examine our ideas of “worth.” “Insanity” can mean many different things. Maybe you need help.

  • Have you acted irrationally because of your eating disorder?
  • Have you weighed yourself several times a day?
  • Do you ever feel different about your size from one moment to the next, okay now and grotesquely overweight just a few minutes later?
  • Do you compulsively compare your body with other bodies?
  • Do you obsess about what you should or shouldn’t eat?
  • Are you terrified of gaining weight from even one bite of food?

Eating disorder “insanities”express themselves in myriad ways. How can we stop “insane” thinking and behaviors patterns? When trying to WILL ourselves into progress, we are reinforcing the very attitudes that created our current unhappiness. Are we broken? Do we need a miracle cure? No we’re not and we don’t. What we do need is a vision of what sanity looks like. We need to find hope. We need to trust that we can patiently learn to live sanely. Are we working towards finding a sanity we never before knew? Are we being “restored” to who and how we were before getting lost in obsession? It doesn’t matter. We move forward. Now. We find inspiration. Sometimes we feel discouraged. Sometimes we feel hopeful. We keep working. We slowly move, step by step, towards a saner and more balanced life. Removing our personalities’ “bad” parts, our ego, so that only “goodness” remains, doesn’t work. Insanity cannot be removed. It can only be replaced with something stronger. When we’re overworked, we need to develop trust that we’ll be okay even if we work less. When we’re scared, we might need courage to face our fears. We need clarity to see that what we’re afraid of isn’t that scary after all. When we feel torn between different options we need the willingness to choose one and let the others go. When we swing back and forth between extremes, we need balance. All of this takes time and practice. This is where the idea of a Higher Power comes in, our Rabb Allah comes in.

We use Tawakkul- Tawakkul refers to putting your trust in Allah – to believe that He alone can ward off the harms of this world, provide you blessings and sustenance, and to ease your challenges and to cure your mind of all illnesses.

And whoever places his trust in Allah, Sufficient is He for him, for Allah will surely accomplish His Purpose: For verily, Allah has appointed for all things a due proportion. (Qur’an 65:3)

“…and put your trust in Allâh if you are believers indeed. (Surah Al-Ma’idah, 5: 23)


It is Allah that guides us through our difficult process and beyond. It is our faith in Allah that will take us further onto road of recovery.

Allah will Sustain us through our difficulties and beyond, and will perish the demon of ED.

Tawakkul shouldn’t be mistaken with giving up your efforts thinking that somehow your challenges will get resolved. Rather striving and working with the attitude that Allah will take care of your affairs and will help you in getting through your trials is part of you having the Tawakkul on Allah.



Love Allah the Higher Power and Not the Demon of Eating Disorder


Our faith requires that our love for Allah and his prophet supersedes any other type of love for any other object or creation and that includes the demon of Eating Disorder, our addictions and behaviours.

When we are active in our eating disorder we are using it as our higher power. We trust what cannot be trusted. These behaviors offer little true peace or comfort. Many of us were at war with food and our bodies. Finding sanity means developing a different relationship with ourselves. Hope creates peace. But the problem is to let go of Eating Disorder is hard. Giving up something the mind adores is one of the hardest battles one ever has to fight.  And yet,  that’s exactly what we have to do. Sometimes we strive for things that are surreal and mere delusional. The demon of ED makes us believe we want things that we know are not good for us. And sometimes we love what Allah does not love, i.e. self destruction and destruction of our health, body and mind.

They say you don’t get over an eating Disorder until you find someone or something better. As humans, we don’t deal well with emptiness. Any empty space must be filled. Immediately. The pain of emptiness is too strong. It compels the victim to fill that place with something . That’s why we run from distraction to distraction, and from one behaviour to other.

Tawakul, Self- Love

One of the major benefits of Tawakkul is that it can relieve us from unnecessary anxiety, worry, and resulting depression from the challenges that we may be facing with our disordered eating. By believing that all our affairs are in Allah’s hands and we can do only what is in our control, we leave the results to Allah and accept His decree whatever it may be. Ibn Rajab Al-Hanbali said, “the fruit of tawakkul is the acceptance of Allah’s decree. Whoever leaves his affairs to Allah and then is accepting of what he is given has truly relied on Allah. Al-Hassan and others among the salaf defined tawakkul as ridhaa (acceptance).” (Jami’ Al-’Uloom wa Al-Hikam : A Commentary on 50 Major Hadith). As we place our affairs with Allah, we learn to love Allah, and that love draws us closer to Him and helps us build a strong relationship that  helps us grow further. At the same time Allah helps us learn to love ourselves, even though we’re not perfect, and others, even though they’re not perfect either. What is difficult now gets easier over time.


Could there ever be an easy way to let go of such a destructive addiction? Yes. There is. With Step 2, we acknowledge the insanity of addiction, our behaviors and we come to a deeper self-realization abour disordered eating and habits.

So, serve Allah alone, and associate with Him no other. Be ever conscious of Him. Be truthful to Allah in what you utter from your mouths.

“Trust your wound to a teacher’s surgery.

Flies collect on a wound. 

They cover it,

 those flies of your self-protecting feelings,

your love for what you think is yours.

Let a Teacher wave away the flies

 and put a plaster on the wound.

Don’t turn your head. 

Keep looking

 at the bandaged place. 

That’s where

the Light enters you.

And don’t believe for a moment

 that you’re healing yourself.”



Eating Disorder Annonymous Member’s Step Two Experience

 Eating Disorder, Death, God

“I first had to believe that what I was doing wasn’t very sane. My step one, in which I admitted doing pretty unconscionable things in a regular pattern, gave me plenty of ammo but I still had a huge amount of trouble with the idea that any external force could do anything like restore me to sanity. Then, I realized the force was inside of me as well as everywhere inthe universe. The same force that enables life to exist and allows me to wake up and want to live is the force I trust to help me face, consider, and act on what shows up in my life every day. This force is bigger than I am but I am a part of it.”

“When I started my recovery I was so scared. I was clinging to trying to make life fit my way. I went from one extreme to the next. One moment I felt worthless and wanted to hide. Other moments I felt I knew better than everybody else. I then tried to force, manipulate, or seduce people into doing what I felt had to be done. The idea of humility used to terrify me.

If one of my problems was low self-esteem, how could giving up control help me? Wouldn’t that mean complete defeat? Wouldn’t that destroy me? Turns out, when I did just let go, things slowly started to change. I needed to surrender to life in all of its scary beauty. This gave life a chance to rebuild me from the ground up. Today humility doesn’t mean being a doormat to me. It means trusting that I don’t have the complete picture and having faith that if things don’t go my way, it’ll be okay. It means being open that some of the most beautiful gifts Life has ever given me are surprises, things I could have never imagined possible, things I would have never planned for.” “The feeling that describes my first step 2 experience best: an awareness that ‘I’m okay, no matter what” “My idea of sanity today is acting on what I know is true and right: 1) Knowing deep down that all is well with the universe no matter what is going on inside my head; 2) Knowing that what is going on in my head –my thoughts and feelings – are very important in that these shape my ttitude, actions and interpretations. These in turn shape my life. It has been extremely mportant for me to recognize that the thoughts of all human beings are fraught with some major logical errors and that my errors in thinking are

a) the major source of my misery and discomfort and

b) are correctible if confronted, exposed and consciously thought through;

3) Knowing that detecting and correcting errors quickly makes my life and that of those around me a lot happier. This process of finding and eliminating errors quickly is deeply gratifying and is a skill I’ve learned by working the steps;

4) Knowing that nothing is more important in my own life than being able to calm myself in safe ways –like facing and dealing with problems directly — when big emotional issues come to the fore;

5) Knowing that all that is required to regain calm in emotionally turbulent situations is willingness.”

“Every night for several weeks before I was hospitalized I pleaded to make it through just one more day, promising God I would ‘do better’ tomorrow. I knew I was dying, yet I didn’t change my behavior,always expecting that things would improve somehow. Looking at it now, I realize that at that point in my eating disorder I was quite insane. Your own experience may be different; the circumstances don’t matter. If you are honest about step one, you know that your life is unmanageable and your actions then can be called insane. Defining my Higher Power wasn’t hard, since I always had a strong faith in God. I just didn’t ever want to let go of my perceived control.””When I first got into recovery, I was an avowed atheist. I changed my mind when I realized I was laiming proof that there is no God, and I knew that was as logically impossible as proving that there is a God, so I changed my position to that of an agnostic. After a year of recovery during which I fought the ‘God angle’ for all I was worth, I could easily see that I was alive by dint of some inexplicable force–a life force –that seems to imbue the entire natural world.

When I was in danger–whether I had realized it or not –I had trusted something and acted almost instantly to avoid death. What was it I had trusted in these moments of extreme danger? Obviously, something I could trust, for I am still here. I came to see that somewhere deep inside me, there is a piece that knows more, cares more, and is more aware than my conscious intellect is about what is really important. I still do not know how this connects to the life force energy of the universe and of all humanity, but I find comfort in the idea that it does or at least might. When I relax and go with the flow, trying to use my energy to contribute to what I believe to be a greater good, and being grateful for the opportunity to do so, I am happy and at peace. That is probably as much as I need to know about God, and it is enough.”

Step Two Exercises

Remember: You don’t need to find “perfect” answers. If what you’re doing doesn’t feel”good enough,” it is your disease talking. Relax. It’s okay. Find joy in discovering yourself. Patience and a sense of humor are helpful. This is an opportunity to practice them.

The following questions help with your Step Two explorations. Use them as suggestions for your journaling. Feel free to write about whatever else they bring Still a little intimidated? You are so not alone! Here’s a suggestion: read through all the questions quickly, then commit to rereading and thinking about one numbered question set per day. Jot down your answers in a little notebook as you think of things during the day or write your answers down as quickly as you can in ten minutes or fifteen minutes toward the end of the day. If you want to write more, great! But sometimes “more” is like binge-thinking. Try to stay calm when you think and write.

Even if you are not thrilled with your work, go on to another question the next day. Trust that your Higher Power will remind of things you need to be thinking about and let it go. Be grateful you can still think and write! Be grateful you can be satisfied with doing something less than perfectly. To co-opt an old saying,

“Anything worth doing, is worth doing imperfectly!”


1. How do you define sanity? What would a sane life look like? Which eating disorder related behaviors, habits, and attitudes kept you from acting sanely in the past?


2. Have you ever used your eating disorder as “higher power”? Have you ever used food (by eating or restricting it) to create illusions of company when feeling lonely? Have you ever used food to comfort you when you were sad? Have you ever used food to calm you down when you felt overly excited? Have you ever used it to make you feel safe? Have you ever used anything in your life to make you feel better and noticed that it made you feel worse? Write down one memory for each of these situations.

Be specific. Do you remember what you felt like at that moment? Do you remember any of your sensations (smells, sounds, were you hot or cold, how did your body feel)?

3. What would it take for you to forgive yourself for not being perfect? What would you need in order to be willing and able to do this?

4. Look at the food memories you wrote down for step one. What were the situations around those memories? What was your emotion in each of these situations? Do you remember smells, sounds, or other sensations? Did you feel strong, weak, powerful, helpless? What did you really need in each of these situations? Look at your memories of restricting your eating. What were the results and effects you were hoping for in each of these situations? Did it work? In the short run? In the long run? What means did you use then to get your needs met? What means do you use now? Can you think of other means that might work better?


I’ve not added Question 5 here from the EDA Workbook, because as Muslims we already know the Higher power, we Know Allah, the Supreme the Almighty.


Did you work your way all through the above exercises? Did you discuss the results you felt comfortable sharing with your sponsor or step buddy, if you have one? Yes? Wonderful! Welcome to the end of step 2. In Third Step we Offer ourselves to Allah.


P.S. If you need a sponsor buddy then I’m more than willing to do that. Please Email me at: waragainsteatingdisorder@gmail.com


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