• Yahaira Muyea Tarr

Ramadan With an Eating Disorder

Eid Mubarak!

It goes without saying, the discipline it takes to abstain from consuming food.

Last year I wrote Ramadan Reflections and detailed my experience as a person whose family has influenced them with multiple religions.

During the past 5 years I’ve gone through a transition in terms of spirituality, diet, and gender for starters. It is clear that these are all connected for me.

Ever since I was 5 years old I struggled with body dysmorphia. When they weighed us for the presidential fitness challenge I would compare my 97 pounds to the next students 81 pounds. I noticed that my thighs bled out in a way when I sat down, a way that other kids bodies did not.

By 12 years old I started feeling too skinny. This was way different than before so, I began binge eating. Instead of a 6 inch from subway I would scarf down a foot long. On Fridays, when we would get pizza at Abuelas house, I forced myself to eat double what I normally ate. My mission succeeded and before high school I gained about 9 pounds.

During high school i was pretty consistent with my weight and began to pay it no mind until my parents moved me to another state during my junior year. This became one of the most severe depressive episodes of my adolescence, I lost 30 pounds.

It wasn’t so intentional but I was definitely starving.

By college, the freshman 15 was more like 30 for me which was very difficult to handle. This was around the time I began partaking in Ramadan.

To have a binge eating disorder often looks like a moment of conscious or subconscious eating that exceeds fullness. It affects your digestion and your metabolism. It’s often followed by an intense period of restrictive eating too.

That cycle can be so detrimental to your mental health as you’re constantly seeing your weight fluctuate. To me, that was a bad thing. Until Rihanna came out about how she has a fluctuating body type I really saw it as a bad thing.

I didn’t know what I looked like and the body dysmorphia I felt at 5 years old came back.

With Ramadan it’s tricky because sometimes if you don’t wake up in the middle of the night, you are only getting a meal a day. I’m a hard sleeper AND to be honest those first few years I wasn’t mad at my stomach shrinking, I wasn’t mad at losing the weight.

This year as Ramadan approached I was battling a long period of restrictive eating and tricked myself into believing my mind and body was preparing itself for Ramadan.

As we have come to Eid, I’m reflecting on how little I’ve been eating and how much of it is due to Ramadan vs my binge eating/ restricting disorder.

There’s no doubt that fasting is to sharpen my connecting to the divine. On a normal restrictive day I cannot make it to 7:30 without eating, so I know I’ve been doing it for God. But I also know that my mental illness is at play.

For those who can resonate my heart is with you and we will find the balance.

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