It's no surprise that Lent can be an especially hard season for religious individuals with a history of eating disorders. The common practice of fasting, along with themes of morality and purity, can be triggering, both for individuals in recovery and who are actively struggling. These practices can nurture an unhealthy relationship with food rather than strengthening one's spiritual relationship, and even act as an excuse to participate in eating disorder behaviors.
However, it's important to keep in mind that taking care of yourself should remain a priority during Lent, even if it means not fasting and not observing the season in the same way as others in your faith community. Find other ways to observe Lent that don't jeopardize your recovery and aren't solely focused on food or exercise. Do something that strengthens your relationship with God rather than engaging in a behavior that endangers your health and well-being. Make a commitment to spending time with God each morning before going to class. Swap out your normal playlist for one with songs celebrate your faith. Volunteer with a friend each week at a charity whose cause you feel passionate about. Take time to write in a gratitude or prayer journal before bed every night.
It's also crucial that you reach out to your treatment team and other allies for support during this potentially triggering time. If you're not sure if it's time for you to seek professional help, we recommend taking NEDA's confidential, online, three-minute eating disorder screening. You don't have to go through this alone!
If you're interested in reading more about Lent and eating disorder recovery, check out these articles:
- "How to Get Through Lent Without an Eating Disorder Relapse" (via Blisstree)
- "Eating Disorder Recovery and Lent: Survival Tips" (via Libero Network)