A WIse Advice: Eating Disorders and Expectations On Oneself


Sufi Light

Dear Readers,


I am responding to an E-mail from a sufferer from NY, USA and I’ve also added an excerpt from my week long retreat in London.

Dear Maha,

I suffer from AN. Last year I was in a residential program for 80 days.  We were lucky my insurance covered all this. I can’t imagine my parents ever coming up with $30,000 a month for my treatment. I never had depression but now I suffer from  extreme anxiety and depression. I’m a prisoner of my own mind and I feel so trapped. I dread every day. When I think about  going to college, panic starts setting in and I feel like I could die if I try it. Every assignment, task and chore becomes huge and insurmountable. It takes me days to even reply to a simple message on phone.  I’m not living but just surviving. At times, I think death will be more welcoming. I can’t explain to anyone how I feel, no one really understands. I really want to function properly. I want to know if anyone has these feelings too, and if yes then how do they over come this?


According to Eating Disorders.org:Eating disorders often go hand in hand with one or more other mental illnesses, such as depression or anxiety, due to the associated negative feelings and low self-esteem which are present with both conditions.”

I suffer from winter blues and as soon as Christmas Lights come down, I simply go down and under. This year, I was having panic attacks frequently and I was finding it difficult to bring them under. So last week, I took a hiatus from work, family, my own mind and went to London for a week-long retreat. The easiest thing is to cut your self off from the world and be in the miserable company of the Demon of Eating Disorder, the hardest thing is to be with people, where the Demon and your thought process are severely challenged. It was a challenge but I desperately needed this week of discernment and self reflection. The retreat is all about taking time away from the demands of everyday life, to be quiet, to pray, to do Dhikr, to learn, to challenge the ego, and to refocus our lives on what is most important to us.

20150216_151417 Rainy Rainy London


From Morning Tahajjud Prayers till Night Prayers. You get blessed.

From Morning Tahajjud Prayers  till Night Prayers. We get blessedMorning Tahajjud Prayers till Fajr Sunrise Prayers



Some people come on retreat at moments of transition, when they feel the need for particular discernment. Others come on retreat to refresh and renew their spirit.

Evening Group Meditation.

Tariqatuna as-suhbah wa ‘l-khayru fi ‘l- jam`iyyah

“Our way is fellowship, and the goodness is in the gathering.” Sheikh Bahauddin Naqshbandi

Sufi Group Meditation

Sufi Group Meditation

What I love about retreat is Evening Meal, the simplicity and blessings of the evening meal, Soup and Bread, eating together and sharing the blessings.

The Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.s.) was once reported to have said, “There is blessing in three things: in the early morning meal, in bread and in soup.”


Meeting the Sheikh

I met the Leader of the Order of Institute of Search for Truth and the School of Sufi Teaching, Sheikh Hamid Hassan.  Sheikh provides initiation and guidance to those who wish to follow the path of Sufism.

I asked him about extreme anxiety and panic and becoming a prisoner of your own mind.


According to Sheikh Hamid, our panic, aniexty and stress manifests from our desire to control our lives and not having complete tawakul trust in Allah. Eating Disorders are all about control. We try to control things because of our fear of what we think will happen if we don’t. The greatest and the most life-changing sacrifice a person can ever make is to surrender the control and to leave everything in care of Allah.

According to Hazrat Azad Rasool

Shaykh al- Tariqat Hazrat Azad Rasool

” The greatest challenge an individual can undertake is self-transformation”. (Turning towards the Heart, p.21)

I learned from this meeting our thoughts make us a prisoner and that most of the times expectations and pressure come from our own selves.  Each negative thought  is a bar that holds us back from getting what we want, simply because we place too much expectations on ourselves to achieve certain things. The expectations we put on ourself can be the most unrealistic and hardest to meet. These unrealistic expectations are not slightly helpful, but for most people (especially those who suffer from Eating Disorders), it’s hard to resist them, even when they know they aren’t right for them.  Too much pressure can cause you to burn out (ahem in my case) you risk depletion and can lose your way. Sometimes you have to allow things to happen instead of making them happen.

Being a  resposnible adult, I have to take ownership and responsibility for what I do and how I think. To me Sheaykh Hamid’s advice and guidance is invaluable. I hope you too will learn from his advice.

His Advice:

Whatever you do, whatever the task, the chore, do your best and then pray to Allah and leave it with Him.

Don’t try to achieve too much in one day, break down your goals in smaller manageable steps.

Break free from the shackles of past and don’t reflect too much on your past mistakes, repent and leave it with Allah.

Don’t look too much into future. ( Reflecting on the past and worries about the future often leave us exhausted and disenchanted).

Keep Life Simple. 



Posted in Curing Eating Disorder through Sufism, Eating Disorder and Islam, Eating Disorders, Recovery, Sufi Meditation | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Life after Eating Disorder Treatment: Complementary Therapies: Physical Therapies

Complementary Therapies comp-logotumblr_mtdxp3N9cL1s5flgxo1_500

Dear Readers,

Please find below another post in Life after Eating Disorder Treatment. This post discusses eight physical therapies; massage, aromatherapy, reflexology, acupuncture, shiatsu, tai chi, qigong and yoga.  These therapies are available to patients in most of the treatment centres and should be incorporated into life after a person has left the centre and is transitioning back into life after treatment. Completing a treatment program can help individuals regain their balance, but the treatment program is only the beginning. In fact, many individuals who complete treatment for Eating Disorders relapse. These therapies can help people regain balance in their lives. It is very important that if you have these therapies outside the treatment centre, you always make sure the therapist or practitioner is trained and registered.


Please Note: These additional treatments should not be employed without other medical and psychological treatments provided by a clinician and/or a carer and they should not be considered a replacement for other evidence based treatment approaches. Instead, they should form part of a comprehensive and holistic treatment plan to increase the quality of life of the person with the eating disorder.




One of the oldest therapies in existence. Massage is a form of structured or therapeutic touch which can be used to relax, to relieve muscle pain and tension. According to Psychology Today.com Massage therapy’s healing touch aids recovery in several different ways.

Massage therapy can help to reduce the feelings of hopelessness and despair and increase levels of serotonin and dopamine, which are known to increase feelings of wellbeing and happiness in people. This can lead to the improvement of many attitudes associated with eating disorders.

Relatives or friends can be taught to massage the person, which can reduce the anxiety and bring comfort to both people. Massage can be a form of communication between the massager and the patient, as well as relieving anxiety,  and muscle tension.

Body Massages are a luxury for many in Western countries, but in Asia, you will find them affordable. It’s very easy to find a massage in these countries, so make most of it.

You can get more information about massage and finding a trained massage therapist from the General Council for Massage Therapy.



bnr-aromatherapy-specialist essentialoils

Aromatherapy is the use of scented natural oils extracted from flowers, plants or trees. the oils are thought to have therapeutic properties. They maybe used during massage, but can also be used in special aromatherapy burners or in baths.

Different oils have different effects: for example, an aromatherapist may use cedarwood for a pleasant and relaxing effect, or rosemary for an invigorating and refreshing effect.

It is not always necessary to remove clothing to have massage or aromatherapy. Often hand and forearm massage or head and neck can be very relaxing.

Which Aromatherapy Oil for which Problem?

“To effectively treat patients with eating disorders, the best oils are ones that help change their emotional connection to food,” says Beldini, who also is a certified aromatherapist. Citrus oils, such as lemon, also may be helpful because they stimulate the digestive juices.

According to Aromatherapy4soul.com

Body Dysmorphia – birch, hyacinth, valerian, gardenia

Eating Disorders – aniseed_china_star, basil, camphor, cinnamon, clary-sage, gardenia, helichrysum, hyacinth, orange, parsley, tuberose; tumeric, yuzu,

Recovery - basil, benzoin, bitter-orange, cajuput, camphor,  celery, cinnamon, clary-sage,  clove, cypress, dill, eucaplyptus, fir, frankincense, myrrh, tagetes marigold; zinziba.

For more information about Aromatherapy and to find a trained therapist, contact the International Federation of Professional Aromatherapists.


acupuncture needles

Acupuncture is based on traditional Chinese medicine. It uses thin, sterile acupuncture needles inserted just below the skin to affect the flow of energy in the body. As well as the circulatory nervous systems in the body, in Chinese medicine there is also a system of life force (energy) channels. the energy that moves along the channels is known as chi.

Acupuncture needles are placed along point in the energy channels to help release the flow of chi and restore health and balance in the body. Acupuncture can help with all sorts of physical problems such as pain, nausea and a sore mouth, and can also help to reduce fear and anxiety.

Studies show that during acupuncture the body releases endorphins, natural chemicals which can relieve pain, relax muscles and increase feelings of well-being.

Acupuncture for Absent Menses

According to Everyday Health.com Leptin, a hormone that helps regulate metabolism, has been shown to play a role in reproductive function and a woman’s menses. One study performed in Germany showed that patients with anorexia have lower-than-normal levels of leptin, which likely contributes to the fact that anorexia patients often stop getting their periods. Researchers in China looked at how a specific acupuncture point, known as sifeng, which is located behind the fingers, may affect serum leptin levels in anorexia patients. The study showed that acupuncture can increase levels of leptin, meaning there may be some promise for acupuncture as an eating disorder treatment.

According to Nedc.com: Acupuncture can be effective in the treatment of eating disorders as it provides drug-free pain relief and takes a holistic approach to healing addressing physical, psychological and emotional signs.

You can get more information about acupuncture and finding a registered practitioner from the British acupuncture Council at: British Acupuncture


517150802_orig Reflexology-chart



Eating Disorder sufferers could benefit from this type of therapy. This natural therapy is offered at most treatment centres.

Reflexology is a specialised form of foot or hand massage that is related to the Chinese practice of accupressure. The theory underlying this therapy is that different areas on the sole of the foot or palm of the hand represent and are connected to body’s internal organs.

Systematically putting pressure on points in the feet or hands is thought to stimulate the flow of energy along energy channels in the body. Some people find that symptoms such as pain, constipation and sickness can be relieved.

You can get more information about reflexology and finding a registered practitioner from the Association of Reflexologists



Shiatsu is Japanese form of massage. Like acupuncture it is based on the idea that good health depends on the balanced flow of energy through specific channels in the body called meridians. Pressure is placed on the appropriate meridians to help the person’s energy regain its balance. The therapist may also gently stretch or massage areas of the body to reduce stiffness and soreness.

You can get more information about Shiatsu and finding a registered practitioner from The Shiatsu Society

Tai Chi and Qigong


Tai Chi and qigong are two Chinese Philosophies which aim to strengthen the vital force (chi) of the body.

Tai Chi- is an ancient chinese practice that focuses on building strength, balance and flexibility through slow, fluid movements combined with mental imagery and deep breathing. It can improve people’s general health.



Qigong- is another Chinese exercise system. Through individual mental and physical exercise, practitioners build up their health and prevent illness by combining discipline of mind, body and the body’s Q’ (vital force).


Both Tai Chi and qigong can help generate a sense of well being and peace and can reduce pain. The slow, graceful movements increase strength and flexibility and improve balance and circulation.

For more information about Tai Chi and Qigong and local classses visit: http://www.taichifinder.co.uk and http://www.qi.org.




Yoga provides a safe context for disordered eaters to confront, deconstruct, and move past troubling thoughts without acting on them. Yoga also assists individuals with eating disorders to establish a new basis for self-esteem by shifting the emphasis of self-image away from what the body looks like and toward what the body can do. Listening to the body and responding to its sensations in a positive way is the first step for many disordered eaters in learning to properly care for themselves and their bodies again. Eating Disorder Guide

 images Yoga

According to Eating Disorder Guide: The practice of yoga, especially slower and non-competitive forms of yoga, shows promise as a method for treating eating disorders. I do gentle yoga every week.  It improves circulation, flexibility, balance, and stamina.  There are many different schools and styles of yoga, but they all encourage balanced and holistic development through the practice of yoga postures, breathing exercises and relaxation techniques.

The Sanskrit word yoga is translated as union between mind, body and spirit, and the practice aims to lead to a better balance of mind, body and spirit. Some types of yoga involve very gentle stretching, movement and meditation.

Most of the treatment centres and hospitals offer yoga as part of their complementary therapy programmes.

To Read More: The Benefits of Yoga on Eating Disorder Recovery



In next post, I’ll talk about Complementary Medicines.


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Eating Disorder Bipolar, OCD- What Came First?



My daughter Happy and Healthy

According to Psycentral: Eating disorders appear to occur more frequently in individuals with bipolar disorder.

Research has found that many people with bipolar disorder have eating issues like bulimia nervosa, anorexia nervosa, and binge-eating disorder. A recent study found one in five bipolar patients in its group of participants met the criteria for a lifetime eating disorder.

Bulimia is the eating disorder most closely associated with bipolar disorder, as current research firmly supports a connection between the two.

Anorexia is not as closely associated with bipolar disorder, although some studies have found a link between the two.

Many bipolar patients report periods of binge eating, although whether they have a full-fledged disorder is not certain. Some medications for bipolar disorder promote binge eating.

Dear Readers,

Please find below a story of a mother whose daughter is diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. This story is in honor of NEDAwareness Week 2015.


I have no idea what came first Bipolar or Eating Disorder. She was always a special girl, loved by everyone. Her friends admired her and her siblings looked up to her. At the age of 15 she learned how to drive a car. At the age of 23, she completed her Double Masters Degree Programm in  English Literature and Philosophy and  got married. Soon problems began, her In laws and husband found her behavior very disconcerting and odd.

We had no idea her attitude, behavior around food was a result of her Eating Disorder.

She shifted between moods, but at that time, they were not aggressive mood swings. She would become very quiet and very withdrawn and would spend days locked in her bedroom completely detached from real life. And then there were days she was normal and completely with us.


At the age of 24, she was hospitalized for  low weight and doctors diagnosed her with depression.

Her Low Weight

At the age of 25, she came home broken and divorced. The Eating Disorder doesn’t itself lead directly to divorce, but the combination of other factors and unacceptable behavior does. For example, incomplete house tasks and her failed attempts at completing any mandatory task became a serious issue within the family. Her behavior was labelled as deliberate and stubborn. The stress level at home increased tremendously.

She was hospitalized for ill-health and was diagnosed with Bipolar. We couldn’t believe it.  The doctor prescribed her with mood stabilizer which had terrible side effects. Her appetite dramatically increased and it seemed insatiable (no matter what she ate, she was never satisfied, She kept craving food). Late nights became a battleground between willpower and cravings. She started to binge eat and became incredibly upset with her rapid weight gain.

The severity of a person’s bipolar disorder may influence the development and severity of an eating disorder. One study found that people with worse bipolar symptoms and deeper mood swings were more apt to develop either bulimia or bulimia combined with anorexia.

A girl who was once admired by everyone became an outcast, a reject. No friends, no social life and no family relations. There’s stigma attached to divorced women in our society. She slid further and further into depression.  She was then diagnosed with OCD.  Her behavior was frowned upon and her outbursts of anger were looked down on. She was no longer ‘normal’.

Few months back  she stopped taking her medicine Epival. She became obsessed with losing weight. What made things even worse was the media and constant talks on weight loss. One of Favorite past time activities among Pakistani women is watching morning talk shows and these shows are filled with weight loss talks and how everyone needs to be thin.

We saw the doctor and tried to explain to him her concerns over weight gain and body image. Our concerns were brushed aside. Doctors want her to take her medicine and stop focusing on her weight. They are not willing to deal with the side affects of taking medicine, which upsets her even more. It’s a de ja vu,  new medication, weight gain, weight loss, depression and manic behavior.



Weight Gain with Medicine

Weight Gain with Medicine

Now she’s back home. But how long is this episode going to last for I wonder. She’s a brilliant teacher but inside she’s a broken person.  When she recovers from low weight, she’ll be hit by manic depression and when she recovers from episodes of Bipolar, she’ll be hit by Body Dysmorphic Disorder and  Eating Disorder. I wish there was more awareness of this illness in Pakistan, but there isn’t. We are very new to Eating Disorders. It’s an illness that is secretive and very troubling. I wish there was  a way of treating Eating Disorders alongside Bipolar Disorder and OCD. I wish the stigma around divorce and mental health would end. I wish people would stop avoiding my daughter. I wish she would be accepted for a genius brilliant person she is.



 Stop the Stigma and Discrimination.

In our society mental illnesses carry a heavy  stigma. The ignorance, fear, misunderstanding and prejudice that surround mental illness deepen the severity of the illness as individuals withdraw further from the world around them. Stigma, discrimination  seriously affect the health, welfare and quality of life of people with mental health problems.

Stigma and Discrimination:

  • Isolate people
  • Exclude people from day-to-day activities
  • Stop people getting and keeping jobs
  • Prevent people seeking help
  • Have a negative impact on physical health
  • Delay treatment and impair recovery


‘The prophet in his visits did not discriminate against ailing people. He even visited sick non-Muslims.’

Bukhari Tafseer Surah 59 (Fiqh.org)

Anas ibn Malik narrates that: A woman who had a defect in her brain, said: Allah’s Messenger, I want to talk to you. He said: Mother of so and so, choose on which side of the road you would like to stand and talk, so that I may fulfill your need. He stood with her on the sidewalk until she spoke to her heart’s content.
Muslim 1081

This shows that the Prophet pbuh never discriminated between the sane or insane. As long as this woman conversed with him patiently he continued to listen. Anas used to tell of the Prophet (peace be upon him) that he would visit the sick.
Tirmidhi 1529 (fiqh.org)

Keep in Mind

People with mental illness may appear to behave oddly but so do many people, try to keep in mind these people’s reality has been altered by their illness. Just because it is difficult to relate to someone at the beginning, doesn’t mean that you should give up and completely exclude that person from your circle. In fact you should try harder to overcome this gap: chances are you are more similar than you think!



Posted in Anorexia, Eating Disorder Stories, Eating Disorders, Eating Disorders Awareness | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ripple Effects of My Eating Disorder





Dear Diary,

12th October 2014

It’s very cold now.  New York looks more grey and more dark than ever. I can’t find the sun anywhere. Tomorrow is a Weight in Day. We will be comparing our progress. I’ve not lost anything. Tonight we all behaved ourselves on dinner table, Uncle X was there. We all ate the same thing, Kushrie Lentils with Rice. No one was allowed to leave the table till all the paltes had been cleared. Twins wanted pizza, (yes fat chance, especially with Uncle X there). I wanted to stay in my room, again no chance.   My stomach feels heavy. I’m such a loser. Uncle X is downstairs and He’s spending the night on living room sofa. I hate uncle X more than anyone in the world.

13th October 2014

We check our weight. I haven’t lost anything. R has lost weight and so has X Y and Z. They all are happy. They are going shopping. They’ll all be purchasing a $45  top, the one Kendall Jenner wore on cover of T. I’m going home as usual with mum. I don’t have $45 anyway and I doubt I’ll be allowed to hangaround Bloomingdale’s on a weekday.

Next Weight In after 7 days. We set targets. If I want to look like Kendall Jenner, I need to work extra hard at losing weight. In our School, so many girls look like her, same hair and same fashion style.  R is the most popular and thinnest girl in our school. She makes sure she stays that way.  she never gains weight.

24th october 2014

My mother is unhappy.  Who wears ripped jeans in such cold weather anyway? She wants to know. I’m so mad. Everyone in group is wearing cropped jeans except me.

27th October 2014

Kendall is wearing this beautiful coat. I want that, I tell my mother. No, she tells me. You have a coat. I’m slow at losing weight. I’ll never be their size, I think in dismay. R teaches me something new. A new trick in a book to lose weight. I try but it doesn’t work. I end up hurting myself.

29th October 2014

Y takes pity on me. Try these. You’ll definitely be lighter by tomorrow. That evening I made so many trips to bathroom.

1st November 2014

I follow the diet plan R gives me. We take R train to Woodhaven Boulevard. I buy the top I always wanted. I don’t feel hungry any more.

15th November 2014

I’ve lost weight. I crop my jeans and I crop my top, away from my family’s eyes. I feel so much better. I have claw nails and same eye brows as Kendall. Wow you look so boho so cool, R tells me. Yessssssssssss

17th November 2014

My mother is irritating me now. She’s always looking at me, watching me. I want her to leave me alone.

Z’s going to be 15. Her party is coming up. To fit into black leather skirt and crop top, she’s watching her calories and she’s also working out. In fact no one eats anymore. If you eat, your a LOOSER.

I want to lose more weight now. The magic pills are irritating me now. R teaches me something new.

29th November 2014

I’m furious now. I can’t focus at school. I’m tired. There are bags under my eyes. I’m so angry at everyone. I wish I was never born in this family.

We go to doctors and he gives me Vitamin D tablets to take, then my mother takes me to a man with a shiny face. After listening to my mother, he speaks to me. I tell him how annoying twins are, how irritating my cousins are, and how I hate my life. In my family everything turns into an arguement.  I want them to LEAVE ME ALONE!!!

He tells me my behavior is having ripples effect on entire family. Your on her side, I tell him crossly.

I slam the door, because they irritate me and they don’t listen to me, I tell him.

I roll my eyes, because they are just so dumb.

I only threw food two times, because she didn’t cook what I wanted her to cook.

I yell at her, because she doesn’t let me live my life. She’s always spying on me.

He tells me temper tantrums only damage us and acting out to get your way is just going to cause me more problems in long-run. I kick the chair. He’s annoying..

You Wish You Had Her Life?

So you wish you had Kendall’s life? Yes, I tell him. He tells me, If I have Kendall’s life, then I would have to give up my parents, my relatives, my twins and my cousins.  I tell him I can’t wait to turn 18 and leave home. I wish I was never born in this family. It’s not fair, how I always have to ask for new clothes. R and XYZ go shopping every week. They get allowance. I have to beg for new clothes. My allowance is so small. She hates my style. She’s always critical of my clothing.

If you had Kendall’s life then you would have her problems too, he tells me. You have to deal with your parent’s divorce, gossip and pressure of looking good all the time. You will no longer have your mum’s home cooked meals and no twins to fight with and no relatives in Sunny Cairo.

 3rd December 2014

I come home exhausted from school. I really need to speed up my weight loss effort. I try something new. I go to sleep exhausted and my stomach is hurting. Dear God, it hurts so much. I can’t breathe. I can’t move. I wake up. My face is so cold and I see my mum. I see my dad.

4th December 2014

I stay in hospital for many days. My mum stays with me. My father and uncle X visit me with twins and my cousins. R and my friends don’t come. There are so many questions asked by Office of Children and Family Services. Everyone in my house is worried. Now I see how my behavior is having ripple effects on entire family, dad is off work, Uncle X has to take twins to school and my cousins look lost and scared.

8th December 2014

I tell this lady from Office of Children and Family Services somethings and I remain silent on other things. Your family wants you to get better, she tells me kindly.  I don’t deserve their love, I think to myself.  I was horrible to all of them. I did terrible things behind their backs, I slapped and pinched twins, pulled my cousin’s hair and shouted at my mother.

9th December 2014

I come home so weak so tired. My mum takes care of me. She makes everything bad go away. She tells me, I’ve got an evil eye.

11th December 2014

A nice man comes to visit us. We agree, I need to get better.

6th January 2015

I have CBT-E. We talk about Cairo. We talk about my Friends. I tell the lady how we moved to New York few years back. Our country was in trouble.   We miss our friends and family and  our house. I miss City Stars, Gezira Club, Al-Azhar Park and Felucca. New York is just cold and very grey.

8th January 2015

Back to School. I am no longer in R’s group.

13th January 2015

I am warm now. My wooly jumpers keep me warm. I am alone but free.

15th January 2015

We visit the nice man.

How do you feel? He asks me. OK! I tell him. My stomach doesn’t hurt and my voice is getting normal and my knees are no longer weak.

How’s family life? We miss Cairo. Mum hugs us everyday. We don’t slam doors anymore and we all eat together.

You were right, Mr Nice Man, My Eating was having a ripples effect on my family.

I slammed doors because I was starving and wanted to eat, but couldn’t, because eating means breaking the rules. Soon twins also started to slam their doors. Them copying my behavior further made me mad and I would slap and pinch them.

Twins also refused to eat. We all disrespected food and insulted mum’s cooking.

My mum was having sleepless nights because I would spend night-time running up and down the stairs and refusing to speak to her. She said I had to show respect to her, and I refused.

My cousins were quiet and withdrawn because I wanted to be my self and they felt I hated them.

I was always asking for money. I forgot my family was in a new country and they didn’t have lots of money to pay for my expensive clothes. Normal people and children don’t shop at Macy’s and Bloomingdales every week.

I told the very nice man. I want to keep my parents forever. I want to keep my twins forever and my cousins forever and I want to keep Cairo forever. I told him, I will eat with my family and I will try to take care of myself.

10th February 2015

Dear Diary,

It’s not too cold now. I don’t care about Fashion Week anymore, I’m more worried about paper that is due in.   We hear a good news from Cairo. My cousins are very happy. We all go out. I feel sunny inside. I go running with Uncle X now. He lets me win on Fridays.

I Fill in my Gratitude Journal

I’m gratfeul for my mum- she loves us, cooks for us and she’s always home.

I’m grateful for my home- it’s filled with people.

I’m grateful for twins- they are incharge of taking the bins out.

I’m grateful for my cousins- they are my best freinds.

I’m grateful for Uncle X- He’s the strongest man in New York

I’m grateful for my Dad- He makes sure we stay warm in winter and we don’t go hungry.

I’m grateful for nice man- he’s kind and makes all of us in New York feel better about ourselves.

Posted in Eating Disorder Stories, Eating Disorders, Recovery | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Bulimia effects on the brain: The simple steps to reverse it.

Bulimia effects on the brain: The simple steps to reverse it.

Genuine Help for Eating Disorder Sufferers and Caregivers

By: Dr Irina Webster

Source: http://www.eatingdisorder-institute.com

Dear Readers,

Please find this wonderful article by Dr Irina Webster on Bulimia effects on brain and how to reverse it. All types of Eating Disorders affect the brain. They prematurely age the brain and dull the intellectual senses. Trust me, this is true especially in my case. We all know how  brain naturally declines as we age, but did you know Eating Disorder accelerates this process further? It’s quite a substantial decline in brain function, for example as my disorder got worst, I made more mistakes and had more slip ups when performing anything that involved using my brains, I also spent one year very leisurely trying to read one paragraph of a book and watching re runs of ‘come dine with me’ on Youtube. I remember failing the tests of memory, speed of thought and wider cognitive ability with flying marks.

Some of the brain injury associated with eating disorder can be seen on a brain scan (MRI) as physical changes in brain structure and loss of brain tissue in wide-spread regions throughout the brain. Good News is with recovery one can reverse all the damage. Brains do recover, even if it takes years to do so. Now read the article and Inshallah soon you’ll be walking around with a super powerful brain.

Bulimia can affect the brain in several ways. First, it enslaves the attention system. The longer one has bulimia the more his/her attention system suffers. In some cases people even drop out of school, universities, give up on good jobs – all due to their inability to maintain attention and concentrate on their work.

In bulimics, food over-stimulates the attention centers represented through the central nervous system. The abnormal activation creates a state of emergency which brings forth the manifestation of the sympathetic nervous system (fight and flight response) when people think about binging food.

As a result, the nervous system has to liberate more energy. The additional flow of energy into the human nervous system gives a feeling of relaxation or a floating feeling called a “high” during the binge.

When the binge finishes, the sufferer is soon drained out of energy and this causes a kind of a hangover and total depression of their attention factors this is the state between binges.  The oscillation from over-flow to depression takes their attention fully and registers a shock on the central nervous system. That is why bulimics have difficulty maintaining attention on anything else except of food and binging.

Such repeated experiences create enslavement of their attention and destroys their brain cells at the same time.

Secondly on a physiological level, brain function may be impaired as the sufferer doesn’t have enough glucose, lipids or other molecules that can be broken down for energy. Sometimes, in severe cases the brain even starts to consume its own tissue to get the energy. That’s why in chronic sufferers the brain may shrink as a result of lipids in the brain being broken down for energy. This can result in serious brain damage.

These people feel lethargic, confused, powerless and helpless. They can experience headaches, neck pains, back pains and other uncomfortable sensation in their bodies. Often, their aches and pains are of a psycho-somatic origin and not physical.

The brain can also suffer because of the effects caused by electrolyte imbalances. When people purge they lose enormous amount of important chemicals (electrolytes) which makes brain function slow or even impossible depending on the total loss.

Third, on a psychological level the brain is damaged by abnormal thinking patterns as the individual believes that they are overweight when they are clearly severely underweight or normal. Bulimics also have a fear of putting on weight. These abnormal thinking patterns are so strong that they overpower all other thinking processes. That’s why bulimics get so preoccupied with food, weight and body image.

To conclude, bulimia definitely changes the brain structure to an unhealthy level. It makes the brain think, differently, work differently, function and process information differently.
The process of changing the brain is called neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity can be bad, but can be good it depends how the sufferer chooses to use it.

If bulimics start using neuroplasticity in a positive way they can reverse the damage which has been done by the bulimia and return their brain to a healthy level. And not just that: they can make their brain work like the brain of a genius if they use neuroplasticity correctly.

Neuroplasticity: The science of redesigning your brain for the better!

Change Your Brain Today with the Help of these Free Pdfs

Watch This fabulous video


Posted in Bulimia, DR Irina Webster | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Inspired By Prophet Muhammad (saaw)- When Food becomes thy Enemy



“I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.’”Muhammad Ali

Dear Readers,

I am trying my best to answer as many E-mails and Questions as possible. Please bear with me and accept my sincerest apologies on delay.


I received a very heart-breaking E-mail from a sufferer in USA.


Dear Maha,

I’ve suffered from Anorexia, Bulimia, Anorexia, Bulimia for 13 years now.  I suffer from deep depression.  I will never forget last year when I woke up in a hospital bed the morning after I took one too many of xxx and xxx. At the age of 26 years old my marriage had ended and along with it my dream job. I didn’t really wanted to live.  Alone in my apartment surrounded by reminders of failed marriage, I turned to food for comfort. I started to binge and purge 5-10 times a day.  The future looked dark and frightening. One year of vicious binging and purging destroyed my health and my sanity. I started to collapse and was forced into taking leave of absence from work and that’s when I hit rock bottom. I have entered recovery on shaky legs now. I live by myself and it’s so easy to fall into pitfalls of ED rituals and behaviors. I see food as an enemy. I don’t think food and I can ever be friends. I would like to know how did you and other sufferers befriend food? What inspires you to eat now? Doesn’t it petrify you that what you eat will convert into fat? 27 Year Old Female USA


The wound is the place where the light enters you. Rumi

I love this quote by Rumi. It shows us personal wounds can be healed ,we all experience dark moments in recovery, but it is these toughest times that can turn out to be the most profound.


‘Food is the Fear that Needs to be Conquered’.  

Harriet Brown


We all have our rituals and behaviors around food. Before I started this blog, my life was so good that a mere look at the food and I was literally paralysed with fear, I would just go rigid, stare into space, and then run and hide (sniff sniff). Anyway that’s my deep dark past, but it takes ages to come out of such fears. After a beautiful feeding experience at the eating Disorder Unit, I came out half sane, half insane and it was during those times I started a blog where original idea was to advice the whole medical and psychiatric faculty, how Re Feeding should happen in Hospitals and how people shouldn’t be forced into doing things they don’t want to do.

One fine day few of us came together on Skype to talk about our chaotic eating regime. We were trying our best to break free from the restrictive cycle of ED. We all would spend hours justifying our eating. I was a liquid/smoothie person, a sufferer from Melbourne was a gluten free person, one from Montreal was a vegetarian. The problem was we were all incredibly unhappy with our lifestyle and it was having an impact on our relations.

I only started to see food as a friend when I relapsed and hit rock bottom. I was waiting for a referral to an Eating Disorder Unit when I decided to challenge my food fears.  The inspiration came from a sufferer in Iran who had no food fears and used food as a medicine to support the healing of mind and body.  She told us to go Cold Turkey on our weird ED rituals and sponsored us to eat from the Kitchen of Prophet Muhammad (saaw) for Forty Days.

“Sometimes you can only find Heaven by slowly backing away from Hell.”

Carrie Fisher

We Started off with Twelve Foods and it took me Forty Weeks to Eat these Twelve Foods. What Can I say except I had plenty of free time to spread out these 12 foods over the forty week period (Oh those challenging times and how no body wanted to celebrate me spending three days eating two figs, sniff sniff).




Foods that Prophet Muhammad S.A.W. loves.. (1)



In Eating, we also followed Mindfulness and Islamic Etiquette of Eating. 


6 pbuheatingetiquette


We Educated ourselves about these foods and their healing properties.


Try not to resist the changes that come your way. Instead let life live through you. And do not worry that your life is turning upside down. How do you know that the side you are used to is better than the one to come? Elif Shafak

Prophet Muhammad’s diet was a simple complete balanced diet. We followed that diet and we didn’t feel challenged. 

I Eat The Way Prophet Eats



And then Miracle happened, all these irrational fears began to subsides. We then realized we Loved Prophet Muhammad (saaw) too much to dislike the foods He ate.



Today, three of us have a good health, we no longer discus food. I can eat any food (except chocolate and this Lebanese drink, made with double cream, avocado, honey and dates) without fear and that’s liberating. Letting go off rigid rules around food was a key to defeating the Demon of Eating Disorder.


In Recovery In Dark Moments

“When the past calls, let it go to voicemail. Believe me, it has nothing new to say.

saying of prophet muhammad-truth

 In our Recovery, In our dark moments, we are inspired by Prophet Muhammad (saaw).  When we eat from his kitchen, Food becomes thy Medicine and blesses our Body, Mind and Soul. When we are sad, upset, and very depressed, we pray to Allah, listen to the ‘Heart of Qur’an’ Sura Yasin and send Salawat on Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and his Family.


“Everything has a heart and the heart of the Glorious Quran is Surah Yaseen. Whoever reads Surah Yaseen, Allah records for them a reward equal to that of reading the whole Quran 10 times.” [Maqal, Tirmidhi 2812/A & Dhahabi]

We remind ourselves:  Each illness has a cure but it is unto man to research and find the cure. “(God) will never place a burden on a soul that it can not bear.”

Patience does not mean to passively endure. It means to be farsighted enough to trust the end result of a process. What does patience mean? It means to look at the thorn and see the rose, to look at the night and see the dawn. Impatience means to be so shortsighted as to not be able to see the outcome. The lovers of God never run out of patience, for they know that time is needed for the crescent moon to become full. Elif Shafak


This Video is made by Allan  especially for this special person in USA. I hope you’ll all enjoy it.


Eating Disorders Inspired by Prophet Muhammad (saaw)




Be Inspired! Eat From the Kitchen of Prophet Muhammad (saaw) and Bless Your Health with this Nutritional Soup. 

Pumpkin Soup For The Prophet

Recipe Taken from Eco Muslim




Pumpkin was one of the favourite foods of Prophet Muhammad (saaw).


He, peace be upon him, loved pumpkin so much that he would eat it over the meat in a stew or he ate it first-as is the correct way to help digestion: eat the veggies before the meat.

As narrated by Anas who said,

“I saw the Prophet being served with soup and containing gourd (pumpkin or squash) and cured meat, and I saw him picking and eating the pieces of gourd.”
- Bukhari Volume 7, Book 65, Number 348.

Pumpkin is cold and dry and relieves the heat of an inflamed stomach. It’s high in fibre so it’s good for the heart and digestion. It is also high in potassium and vitamin C, which is good to boost the immune system.

Its “coldness” is harmful to one part of the stomach so tradition and science calls for it to be eaten with something like onions or ginger (Zanjabeel), that is moist in the first degree and hot in the second. Ginger aids the digestion and is also good for the liver; it’s also an aphrodisiac and should be eaten proportionately if you are not ill.

Pumpkin seeds good for the prevention of prostate diseases and associated urinary problems. They contain L-Tryptophan, a natural preventative against depression. They also contain high levels of zinc that protects against osteoarthritis, and are anti-inflammatory without the side effects of drugs. Eat them freshly scooped with yoghurt or dried and roasted with sunflower seeds.

Pumpkin Soup 

Serves: 2

Cooking time 45 mins


• 2-5 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
• 2 medium onions, peeled and quartered (1 extra for caramelising)
• 3 stalks celery, roughly chopped
• 1-2 cups of chopped, de-seeded pumpkin (keep the seeds)
• 1 parsnip chopped (optional)
• 3-5 cloves of garlic, chop and leave for 1 minute to process
• 3 fresh parsley stalks
• 1 teaspoon crushed black pepper
• 1 teaspoon of sea salt
• 1-3 dried bay leaf
• 1 teaspoon crushed cumin seeds (jeera)

Preparation method

  1. Put all the ingredients except the pumpkin into a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to the boil. Cover and simmer on medium-low heat for 20-30 minutes.
  2. Let the vegetables cool for 5 minutes. Take out the bay leaves and then blitz with a hand-held blender or pour into a jug blender and blitz until smooth.
  3. Pour the soup back into the saucepan and add the pumpkin chunks. Cook on medium heat and covered for another 15 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, shallow fry a sliced onion in vegetable oil for approximately 5 minutes till it starts to brown. Add cumin seeds and fry and stir till golden brown. Set aside on a plate.
  5. Now add 2 tablespoon of pumpkin seeds to the pan and fry till they begin to pop and turn light brown. Be careful not to burn them.
  6. Ladle the soup into a bowl, add the onion-cumin masala, sprinkle with pumpkin seeds and add a splash of olive oil. Serve with lemons wedges.
  7. Enjoy!
Posted in Eating Disorder and Islam, Eating Disorder Healing Recipes, Eating Disorder Recovery Tips, Eating Disorders, Inspired by Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), Islamic Foods for Healing | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

What to Do When You Feel Fat? Are you feeling fat today?

Dear Readers,

I receive many questions, but this Question ‘What to do when you feel fat’?  is guaranteed to crop up month after month. Sometimes,  I simply don’t know how to respond to  this question, and  to comments like ‘I hate my life, I hate my body, I hate my stomach and I hate being fat’. 

I am sharing a brief version of email of a Young Sufferer from NY.

“I can’t tell you how terrible I feel about my weight. I feel all the weight is in my stomach and every time I try to tell my family about my concerns, they tell me its all in my head. I can’t look at myself in the mirror. The hospital tells me, I need to gain more weight and I just don’t want to gain any more weight. I know I am relapsing. My behaviors are getting worse. I simply hate everything and everyone.” 15 year old Female NY

One mistake we all make, we think we can live with our Eating Disorder  – that we would be OK. One thing we don’t realize that all kinds of Eating Disorders are deadly. All Eating Disorders have medical consequences. Eating Disorders Kill!

If you think that you or someone you know might be struggling with an eating disorder, disordered eating, or negative body image issues of any kind, there are resources available to you for support.

Remember: Dealing with body image and self-esteem is a life-long process. You are stronger than your disorder; you can take back control over your emotions, and life. Don’t stop trying to understand and accept the wonderful person that you are!

Do not allow your ED to occupy your every thought your entire being. Please do seek help. I found this article by Lauren Cowne. And I found it very useful. I hope you’ll find it useful as well.

By Lauren Cowne

image of eating disorder recovery coach

What to Do When You Feel Fat

Are you feeling fat today?


“I feel so fat.”

“I feel fat and ugly.”

“I’m having a fat day.”

                        “I feel fat.”

Sound familiar?  How often do these phrases run through your mind?  Feeling fat is something that many women who are recovering from an eating disorder experience and even women (and men) in general also experience these fat feelings on occasion.  “I’m having a fat day,” is now a common catch phrase for women of all ages.  So what to do when you feel fat?

I remember back when the eating disorder symptoms began for me, and this “feeling of fat” was very overwhelming.  It’s the worst feeling of not wanting to be in your skin.  It takes over and seems like you can’t think about anything else.  You feel like you don’t belong in your body, like you want suddenly to drop all the weight or steal someone else’s beautiful physique and instantly everything will feel better.  I thought losing weight would make everything perfect.  I wanted to stop feeling fat but I didn’t know what to do when you feel fat.

I remember before I got help for bulimia I felt fat just about every day.  I would look in the mirror despising every ounce of fat on my body.  I would spend hours trying to find the right pair of jeans that didn’t make my love handles stick out and hours mulling over which shirt made me look the least fat.  “I feel fat and ugly, I feel fat and ugly, I feel fat and ugly,” seemed to be a never-ending tape that was playing inside my head.  I desperately wanted to crawl out of my skin!  It was a struggle that left me feeling worthless, disgusting, all alone, and of course, I felt FAT.

It wasn’t until I got into treatment for bulimia that I realized…

“Fat is not a feeling.”

At first when I heard this in eating disorder recovery, I didn’t quite understand.  I had the “I feel so fat” thinking for most of my life, and I really had to look back and examine what was really going on inside.  Why did I feel fat?  What was the underlying cause?  What to do when you feel fat?

For many women suffering with eating disorders these “I feel fat” feelings can actually trigger the eating disorder behaviors itself.  When the “I feel fat and ugly” feelings come up, many women decide that dieting or restricting is the answer.  Or the negative “I feel fat” feelings might trigger a binge or a binge and purge episode to try and escape or stuff down those unwanted feelings.  It’s a really destructive cycle, because then the eating disorder behaviors trigger more of the unwanted feelings, which contribute to feeling worse about yourself, which lead to more eating disorder behaviors, which lead to more negative feelings and on and on and on.  It’s a cycle that I was trapped in for nearly 10 years.

In the beginning of my bulimia recovery, all I knew was “I feel fat and ugly.”  Before getting treatment for bulimia, I didn’t know how to properly identify what it was that I was truly feeling.  I took all my negative feelings and I turned them into ‘I feel fat’ and then I used the eating disorder behaviors to cope with them.  Slowly I learned by identifying my feelings that “I feel fat and ugly” for me was really just a catch-all for all the negative emotions I was experiencing.  When I realized that I was thinking, “I feel so fat” I would stop myself and I had to ask myself,

If fat is not a feeling, then what am I really feeling inside?

When you feel fat, ask yourself:

  • Are you feeling fearful, scared, hopeless, helpless or overwhelmed?
  • Are you feeling sad, alone, depressed, disappointed, hurt, unhappy, or regret?
  • Are you feeling angry, aggravated, annoyed, upset, uncomfortable, or frustrated?
  • Are you feeling guilty, ashamed, unworthy, embarrassed, or worthless?
  • Are you feeling anxious, nervous,  frightened, insecure, or worried?
  • Are you feeling confused, desperate, puzzled, lost, bewildered or troubled?

Feeling fat is really just a cover-up for a range of emotions.  These are just some of the many feelings that might be underlying those fat feelings.

The “I feel fat and ugly” feelings I used to experience had a lot to do with the fact that I didn’t love and accept myself.

I didn’t love and accept myself, I didn’t love and accept my body, and I didn’t love and accept the feelings I was having.  I didn’t know how to feel my feelings properly.  I learned that feelings were scary and they made me feel out of control.  Developing the eating disorder was a way to manage those powerful emotions and feelings that were coming up.

So What To Do When You Feel Fat?

Identify what you’re really feeling.

Stop, take a deep breath and ask yourself, “What am I really feeling?”  It might be helpful to journal about it or talk to a support person about what you are going through emotionally and the feelings that are coming up.  Use the questions above to recognize the feelings and emotions if you need help while you’re recovering from an eating disorder.

Acknowledge and accept that you are having these feelings.

It’s okay to feel your feelings!  They are not going to kill you as overwhelming as they may feel.  In the beginning when you are recovering from an eating disorder the feelings that come up are very intense.  This is normal as you haven’t allowed yourself to truly feel the emotions for such a long time.  Don’t worry, the feelings do subside and it does get easier!  Remember, “This too shall pass.”

Recognize your triggers and create a strategy for dealing with them.

Why are you feeling this way?  Where does the feeling come from?  Is it something specific like an event or relationship problem, or is it based on an underlying belief like not loving the self?  For example, you might get triggered by feeling anxious or alone, or maybe you got in a fight with a loved one.  Try to write down what triggers you to feel this way so that you can create a strategy for overcoming the eating disorder behaviors the next time the trigger pops up.

Take positive action towards your bulimia recovery.

Use a healthy coping method to deal with the emotion so you can process it and release it.  If you’re sad this might mean reaching out for support via a phone call or just simply letting yourself cry.  If you’re angry it might mean taking a walk to clear your head, listening to music or beating up a pillow.  If you’re anxious it might mean doing some yoga poses or journaling about what you’re going through to try to ease the anxiety.  You might have different ways of dealing with the variety of emotions that come up when you are learning how to recover from an eating disorder.

Most importantly, you have to find a way that works for you to help you deal with your emotions and feelings in a healthy way, rather than use the eating disorder symptoms to cope.

Learn to change the negative self-talk into positive, loving thoughts.

This one doesn’t happen overnight.  The “I feel fat and ugly” thoughts are like a tape and it’s important to change this negative eating disorder thoughts to overcome the underlying belief.

Shower yourself with thoughts of “I love myself.”  “I accept myself.”  “I love and accept my body.”  “I love you.” “Thank you.” “You are beautiful inside and out.” “I bless my body with love, all parts of my body are beautiful.”  Rinse and repeat.

Be easy on yourself.

Recovering from an eating disorder is hard work.  You have to learn to forgive yourself when you are recovering from bulimia, recovering from binge eating, or recovering from anorexia.  Take it one step at a time.  You didn’t develop your eating disorder overnight and you won’t recover from an eating disorder overnight either.  Be patient with yourself and enjoy your healing process!

Overcoming feeling fat is a part of the process of recovering from an eating disorder.  

Congratulations, now you know what to do when you feel fat!  Learning to identify and feel the feelings whatever they may be, learning to accept them and process them, learning to truly let go, learning self love and self care all come hand in hand when learning how to recover from an eating disorder.  It takes work but it is so worth it.  You are worth it.


You CAN recover and have an AMAZING life!

Posted in Body Image, Eating Disorder Recovery Tips, Eating Disorders, Lauren Cown | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment