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Is Fasting An Eating Disorder

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Fastingwhen You Have An Eating Disorder

Fasting And Eating Disorders

Ramadan can be a triggering and difficult time for someone with an eating disorder. The focus on restricted food and then over-indulging with food can evoke many difficult feelings for people who have disordered thinking about food. An article published by Beat called Ramadan: Still in the grips of anorexia highlights some of the issues triggered by Ramadan. Habiba, the author of this article says:

Ramadanbrings out a lot of negative emotions and triggers for me. But this year,having a choice to fast or not to fast and still seeing Ramadan as a chance tolose weight and to become sicker is not helping and confirms, yet again, that Iam not in a good state of mind to fast safely. I dont see it as a religiousthing. So if I fast, I will be doing it for the wrong reasons.

Habiba very clearly identifies how Ramadan is a time to practisefasting, not starvation and this distinction is not easy to make for someonewith an eating disorder. Restrictedeating should not become restrictingeating with an anorexic mindset to deprive oneself to a point of self-harm. Similarly,for those suffering from bulimia, breaking fast during iftar, should not becomean opportunity to over-indulge to the point of wanting to purge.

Habiba goes on to explain her disordered thinking:

S To Bulimia Recovery

Admit you have a problem. Up until now, youve been invested in the idea that life will be betterthat youll finally feel goodif you lose more weight and control what you eat. The first step in bulimia recovery is admitting that your relationship to food is distorted and out of control.

Talk to someone. It can be hard to talk about what youre going through, especially if youve kept your bulimia a secret for a long time. You may be ashamed, ambivalent, or afraid of what others will think. But its important to understand that youre not alone. Find a good listenersomeone who will support you as you try to get better.

Stay away from people, places, and activities that trigger the temptation to binge or purge. You may need to avoid looking at fashion or fitness magazines, spend less time with friends who constantly diet and talk about losing weight, and stay away from weight-loss websites and pro-mia sites that promote bulimia. You may also need to be careful when it comes to meal planning and cooking magazines and shows.

Address any underlying mood disorder. Its common for people with bulimia to also suffer from depression or anxiety. Getting help for co-existing conditions is vital to your bulimia recovery.

Seek professional help. The advice and support of trained eating disorder professionals can help you regain your health, learn to eat normally again, and develop healthier attitudes about food and your body.

If you or a loved one has bulimia

So Is Intermittent Fasting As Good As It Sounds

According to metabolic expert Dr. Deborah Wexler, Director of the Massachusetts General Hospital Diabetes Center and associate professor at Harvard Medical School, says “there is evidence to suggest that the circadian rhythm fasting approach, where meals are restricted to an eight to 10-hour period of the daytime, is effective.” But still she recommends that people “use an eating approach that works for them and is sustainable to them.”

So, heres the deal. There is some good scientific evidence suggesting that circadian rhythm fasting, when combined with a healthy diet and lifestyle, can be a particularly effective approach to weight loss, especially for people at risk for diabetes.

Also Check: Can You Eat Anything While Fasting

Why Are Disordered Eating And Dieting So Dangerous

Disordered eating behaviours and in particular dieting are among the most common risk factors for the development of an eating disorder. Eating disorders are severe and life-threatening mental illnesses. An eating disorder is not a lifestyle choice.

Restricting the amount of food you eat can be a very dangerous practice. When the body is starved of food it responds by reducing the rate at which it burns energy and this can result in over eating and binge eating behaviours. Dieting is also associated with other health concerns including depression and anxiety.

Disordered eating can have a negative impact on a persons life and has been linked to a reduced ability to cope with stressful situations. Feelings of guilt, shame and failure are common in people who engage in disordered eating. These feelings can arise as a result of binge eating or breaking a diet. A person with disordered eating behaviours may isolate themselves for fear of socialising in situations where people will be eating. This can contribute to low self-esteem and social withdrawal.

What About The Treatment Of Other Eating Disorders Including Bed Arfid And Osfed

Spiritual Fasting After Eating Disorder Recovery

Eating disorders are behavioral problems and the most successful modalities of treatment all focus on normalizing eating and weight control behaviors whilst managing uncomfortable thoughts and feelings. Increasingly, we understand eating disorders as not just psychological problems but as disorders of learning and habit. Changing established habits can feel challenging, however practice of healthy eating behavior under expert therapeutic guidance helps develop skills needed to manage anxieties regarding food, weight and shape — all of which fade over time with the gradual achievement of mastery over recovery.

Recommended Reading: How Fast To Lose Weight Intermittent Fasting

Is Dieting Worth The Risk

Before trying IF, itâs worth taking a moment to self-reflect on your dietary goals, eating history, and lifestyle.

As a baseline for most people, Brighid advises maintaining a whole-food diet. That means whole grains instead of refined pasta, fresh fruit instead of bottled juice, or salmon fillets instead of chicken nuggets. âIf somebody is feeling really stressed out about foods in food choices, I would direct them to eating whole foods as close to their natural state as possible,â Brighid explains. âBecause I feel like it is much harder to go wrong.â

“Our bodies are resilient and we can have a bad meal or a bad week, and our bodies are going to bounce back.

Brighid emphasizes that if you trip up, it is not the end of the world. âOur bodies are resilient and we can have a bad meal or a bad week, and our bodies are going to bounce back if we just go back to that good foundational whole foods diet,â she says.

Kronberg hopes people remember that food is a source of nutrients and also pleasure.

âWe are not numbers or pieces of paper. We are whole human beings,â Kronberg says. âAnd what may look viable in a scientific lab or in short term research does not usually play out in the brain and the body over a long term.â

Intermittent fasting that is practiced rigidly, without room for error or adjustment, could be harmful.

Itâs about long term solutions, cultivating a healthy lifestyle, not practicing a short-term diet, Brighid says.

Intermittent Fasting Is A Fancy Name For Skipping Meals

I know there are several different fasting methods, but I did what seems to be the most popular: the 16/8 method. That is, fasting for 16 hours and only eating within an eight hour window. From 1pm-9pm, I ate two meals and several snacks. I never fasted for full days at a timeironically, because that reminded me too much of my eating disorder daysso I cannot speak for those methods of fasting.

Now I know what youre thinking: Alex, youre just skipping breakfast. And back then Id say no way, but now all I have to say is yeah, youre darn right. All I did during the 16/8 method of intermittent fasting was skip breakfast every day while waiting for the clock to strike 1pm because by then I had been up for hours and was starving. That should have been the first red flag for me, but I carried on.

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What Are The Risks Associated With Disordered Eating And Dieting

The risks associated with disordered eating are severe. People with disordered eating may experience: A clinical eating disorder such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder or other specified feeding and eating disorders Osteoporosis or osteopenia: a reduction in bone density caused by a specific nutritional deficiency Fatigue and poor sleep quality Gastrointestinal problems such as constipation and/or diarrhoea Headaches Feelings of shame, guilt, and low self-esteem Depressive or anxious symptoms and behaviours Nutritional and metabolic problems

Additional File : Supplement Table 1

My eating disorder story how I recovered with intermittent fasting

. Demographic Characteristics and Descriptive Statistics of College Student Participants from the 20162020 Healthy Minds Study by Gender and Survey Year. Supplement Table 2. Associations between Demographic Correlates and Survey Year and Any Fasting in the Past Four Weeks by Gender and BMI. Supplement Table 3. Associations between Demographic Correlates and Survey Year and Regular Fasting in the Past Four Weeks by Gender and BMI. Supplement Fig. 1. Prevalence of Any and Regular Fasting in the Past Four Weeks among Participants with Body Mass Index < 25, by Gender and Survey Year. Supplement Fig. 2. Prevalence of Any and Regular Fasting in the Past Four Weeks among Participants with Body Mass Index 25, by Gender and Survey Year. Supplement Table 4. Associations between Any Fasting and Regular Fasting in the Past Four Weeks and Substance Use and Mental Health Correlates by Gender and BMI among Participants from the Healthy Minds Study.

Also Check: How Many Calories Can You Eat While Intermittent Fasting

Extreme Fasting: How Silicon Valley Is Rebranding Eating Disorders

The obsession with fasting overlaps with a trend for what is often termed biohacking the idea that your body is a system that can be quantified and optimized

Eating is so last season these days all the cool kids fast. Fasting diets have rocketed in popularity over the last few years, garnering a number of high-profile fans. Like Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, for example, who tweeted last month that he had been playing with fasting for some time. Dorsey explained that he does a 22 hour fast daily , and recently did a 3 day water fast. The billionaire added that the biggest thing he had noticed after depriving himself of food was how much time slows down. The day feels so much longer when not broken up by breakfast/lunch/dinner. Any one else have this experience?

I have! Ive had lots of experience with the various side effects of fasting because I did it a ton as a teenager: it was called anorexia. And it wasnt fun. It wrecked my health and took me years to recover.

Any eating behaviors that involve restriction or rigid rules is concerning

Fasting, of course, is not synonymous with anorexia. Nor is it necessarily problematic. However, as Dr Allison Chase, an eating disorder specialist, tells me over email, any eating behaviors that involve restriction or rigid rules is concerning and can be a precursor to diagnosable eating disorders.

The Risks Of Losing Touch With Your Body

Fasters who feel hunger pangs may drink lots of water, tea, and black coffee to push through the craving, but some dieticians warn that ignoring bodily cues for hunger can have unforeseen consequences.

Tribole believes ignoring these primal signals is a dangerous practice that can lead to binge eating and other unhealthy behaviors.

Binge eating during IF is a natural response because the body is trying to survive and heal, she says. Once you venture into primal hunger, a survival mechanism kicks in, making it feel like when you do eat, you may feel like you cannot stop.

âItâs like when you hold your breath for a long period of time,â she says. âWhen you have that first breath, itâs not going to be a polite inhale. Itâs going to be a gasp for life. And thatâs what binge eating is.â

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Understanding The Experiences Of Women Who Engage In Religious Fasting

An article published on Science of Eating Disorders highlights some of the studies that have been conducted to help understand the experiences of women who engage in religious fasting. The first study, of women in Bulgaria who used fasting, attempted to differentiate dieting and fasting. A sample of 205 women were grouped into faith related categories and dietary categories . Level of eating distress among the sample was assessed using the EAT-40 and the authors found that in women who exhibited a high level of eating distress, strong faith could lead to more dietary restriction, and women who scored low in eating distress and had strong faith were less likely to have dietary and body image issues.

Another study about the experiences of people observing Ramadan in Turkey endeavored to determine why adolescent medicine referrals increased during and after Ramadan. This Muslim holy period is traditionally observed by fasting during daylight hours. The authors utilized case studies to determine whether or not the act of fasting during Ramadan contributed to the development of eating disorders. The study results suggested that while fasting does not cause eating disorders, it can serve as a trigger in those who are at risk for developing an eating disorder.

Issues With If An Unsustainable Approach

Eating Disorders &  Fasting

The primary issue for most people is that this method cannot be maintained. There arent many people who are willing to forgo periods of eating, such as skipping breakfast, or stray from their normal meal times.

It can also create tension in social situations, such as meetings or events scheduled during fasting days or periods. This can snowball, moving you from a safe approach to an unhealthy relationship with food.

There is science to fasting, although its not as solid as its advocates would claim. Research has found that intermittent fasting may help weight loss, , lower the risk of type 2 diabetes, and reduce blood pressure and cholesterol.

Whats often discounted, is that these results only apply to a relatively moderate fasting cycle of around 12-36 hours nothing like the seven day water diets being pushed by some.

Added to this is the danger of triggering an eating disorder.

Juliette Thomson, a psychologist who manages the Butterfly Foundations national eating disorder helpline, told Hack fasting weight loss and deprivation can together cause an eating disorder.

A person fasting is more at risk of losing weight, which we know is one of the biggest risk factors for eating disorders, she said.

But its also that the longer you dont have food affects how your brain and body are going to respond to thoughts about food.

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Intermittent Fasting And Eating Disorders

Given the more established research on eating disorders, including their signs, symptoms, and risk factors, it is worth exploring how intermittent fasting may be associated with these illnesses. The trend may be especially harmful for those experiencing, recovering from, or at risk of developing an eating disorder. Intermittent fasting may amplify or conceal disordered behaviors, inhibit eating disorder recovery, and increase the likelihood that an individual may develop a severe eating disorder.

  • Intermittent fasting may amplify or conceal disordered behaviors. Under the guise of intermittent fasting, individuals may conceal restrictive behavior and thereby delay the identification and treatment of a disorder like anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating disorder.
  • Intermittent fasting may inhibit recovery. Eating disorder recovery aims to reconnect individuals with their bodiesto tune into hunger cues and intuitively support their bodies with the food they need. Intermittent fasting and other external food rules may further distance recovering individuals from the bodies theyre learning to trust.
  • Intermittent fasting may contribute to the development of an eating disorder. Though eating disorders have no single cause, a key risk factor is dieting. Those who lose weight by fasting intermittently may make themselves more susceptible to developing a severe eating disorder.
  • How Intermittent Fasting Affected My Eating Disorder Recovery

    I want to preface what I am about to say by making it clear that intermittent fasting is absolutely not for everyone, especially not everyone trying to recover from an eating disorder. In fact, depending on the nature of your eating disorder, the act of purposely not eating for roughly 16 hours a day could be devastating to your recovery. If youre in recovery and wondering about intermittent fasting, talk to your doctor and/or therapist first.

    My experience with my eating disorder recovery and intermittent fasting is just that: my experience. I want to write about it here to show people who may be feeling suffocated by what they perceive to be limited eating paradigms for those in recovery that there are many ways to eat that can healthfully support your recovery.

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    Different Intermittent Fasting Methods

    Intermittent fasting describes an eating regimen that falls loosely into one of a few categories, Peterson explains:

    • Time-restricted eating, where windows of time are defined for fasting and eating over 24 hours. A common ratio of fasting to eating is 16:8, but wider or narrower windows can be set.
    • Extended fasting, where one embarks on a 24-hour or more period without food, while continuing to hydrate.
    • Alternate day fasting, where food is eliminated or significantly restricted every other day.
    • A âfasting-mimickingâ diet, where food is significantly restricted for a set period of time, like in the meal kits Valter Longo sells, or the âwarrior dietâ, where 2 days out of every week allow very restricted calories.

    From limitedhumantrials and many animal studies, we can tentatively say that refraining from eating sporadically can impart some health benefits: some forms of fasting have been shown to reduce symptoms of diabetes, lower blood pressure, and reduce other metabolic markers. In clinical trials with humans, researchers have concluded that it can be a good alternative to simple calorie restriction plans.

    But studies come with their limits. Because regular people use intermittent fasting in such different ways, it can be difficult to know what mechanisms are driving the effects people experience â and, in turn, to point a finger of blame at the practice itself for fostering disordered eating.

    The simple act of monitoring food may lead one to eat less.

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