Over the past two years, I have developed a deep fascination with the idea of religion itself and its influence on individuals, as well as the cultures intertwined within the specific community. Islam has caught my attention the most, as I have many friends who are Muslim and are so passionate about their faith – something that I had never felt before. I began asking question after question, and my fascination grew larger. I felt a spark of curiosity manifest in my soul, craving to experience more. Fast forward, it is the month of Ramadan, something that I had learned about early on in my exploration, as it is one of the most significant events for a Muslim.
Ramadan is the month of fasting and sacrifice in order to reflect on your actions, devote yourself to faith and develop empathy of those who fast due to poverty. When this time came, there was nothing more that I wanted than to partake in this sacred time and immerse myself further into this new world I was discovering. However, for a girl who had a history of an eating disorder, fasting seemed like the last thing that would be good for both my physical and mental health. Although for me, I didn’t feel like my past of disordered eating would impact me negatively since the intentions of that versus fasting are so extremely different. After talking with my parents, therapist and nutritionist, a compromise of a couple days of fasting was the result. Of course I wanted to be able to fast more days than that, but considering the circumstances, I understood the hesitation among all parties. So, I was happy with the two days.
During my days of fasting, I followed a routine of waking up before sunrise to eat a meal, which would sustain me until sundown. This act in itself was something that felt different to me because I understood that I was eating in order to nourish my body, something that had been relayed over and over to me by my nutritionist but was hard to grasp just by being told. As the days came to a close, I opened my fast with my friends and it was an experience unlike any other I had associated with food before.
The food created a sense of community with the others around me who had also been fasting. We all shared an equal appreciation for not only the delicious food that calmed our hunger, but how it unified us in a way that made me forget all my fears associated with food that had been so deeply rooted within me. I couldn’t believe that something that had brought me so much anxiety was now something that made me feel connected to people in a way I had never felt before. I began to understand how people would often say that food not only nourishes the body, but the soul as well. For once, my perception of my body didn’t feel strictly attached to what I consumed, which in past would often be the determining factor of how my day was going to go. I couldn’t believe that something that seemed like it would for sure backtrack the progress I had made in my recovery, had turned out to be something so positive. I couldn’t believe that fasting turned out to be the realization that I so desperately needed to foster the connection between my mind, body and soul. I finally felt empowered by something that had trapped me in my mind and it was an indescribable feeling.