Ex­perts say Ra­madan fast­ing be­ing used as ex­cuse

7 Days in Dubai - - FRONT PAGE - By Sar­wat Nasir @Sar­watNasir sar­wat@7days.ae

Some teenagers with eat­ing prob­lems are us­ing fast­ing dur­ing Ra­madan as “an ex­cuse” to lose weight, ex­perts have said.

Dr Tho­raiya Kanafani, a clin­i­cal psy­chol­o­gist and co-owner of the Hu­man Re­la­tions In­sti­tute and Clin­ics Dubai, said that the clinic of­ten sees teens who suf­fer from eat­ing dis­or­ders such as anorexia or bu­limia.

She said: “All this year I’ve seen teens say they are ei­ther on a juice diet or some other kind of diet so they don’t have to eat a lot.

“So Ra­madan be­comes one more ex­cuse for them to mask how much they have eaten. They need to have the right mo­ti­va­tion to fast.

“For those who suf­fer from anorexia, be­cause peo­ple won’t re­ally no­tice how much they are eat­ing when they are break­ing their fast, they’ll have small things to eat and mask how much they’ve eaten.”

Kanafani shared a case study of one of her

pa­tients who used to suf­fer from bu­limia and her strug­gles of fast­ing dur­ing the Holy Month.

The 19-year-old pa­tient would feel com­fort­able with fast­ing as she felt she was los­ing weight.

“The pa­tient used to have bu­limia around two years ago,” added Kanafani.

“This im­pacted her sig­nif­i­cantly in many ways, aca­dem­i­cally, emo­tion­ally, phys­i­cally, so­cially, as she felt the need to purge ev­ery time she ate more than a cer­tain small amount.

“Hav­ing an eat­ing dis­or­der also im­pacted her in re­li­gious and spir­i­tual ways, which was es­pe­cially

ap­par­ent dur­ing the fast­ing pe­riod of Ra­madan.

“Two years ago, when the pa­tient had an eat­ing dis­or­der, dur­ing the month of Ra­madan, she felt more com­fort­able with her­self as she felt she was los­ing weight be­cause of the fast­ing.

“It was a stress­ful sit­u­a­tion for her fam­ily, in ad­di­tion to her, who would at times try to for­bid her from fast­ing, as they knew about her eat­ing dis­or­der.

“At if­tar, when she would break her fast, she would ei­ther eat too lit­tle or purge out ev­ery­thing she ate af­ter­wards.”

The pa­tient re­ceived pro­fes­sional help and she joined a sup­port group to help re­cover. She still fasts dur­ing Ra­madan but not to lose weight.

“Sim­ply be­cause she be­lieves she is strong enough to over­come her dis­or­der and ex­cel spir­i­tu­ally,” said Kanafani.

An­other clin­i­cal psy­chol­o­gist, Sabine Skaf, said that teens need to have the “right mo­ti­va­tion” to fast dur­ing Ra­madan.

She said teens need sup­port from fam­ily and friends who can help them through the month.

“Who­ever looks af­ter them, they need to ask them why they are fast­ing, and what rea­son are they fast­ing for?” Skaf said.

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