A little background about me: I struggled through 3 eating disorders throughout my youth. I became bulimic at the age of 13, anorexic, briefly, at the age of 15 and finally a binge eater at 16 years old.
- Anorexia: an emotional and mental disorder characterized by an obsessive desire to lose weight by refusing to eat.
- Bulimia: an emotional disorder involving distortion of body image and an obsessive desire to lose weight, in which bouts of extreme overeating are followed by depression and self-induced vomiting, purging, or fasting.
- Binge Eating: a disorder in which you frequently consume unusually large amounts of food and feel unable to stop eating.
One thing I’ve learned about eating disorders is that it’s never truly about the food. Most eating disorders have a root of discontentment, low self-value, a desire for control, and commonly, emotional trauma.
I can’t speak for everyone but I can say that my eating disorders stemmed from discontentment, heartbreak, and a desire for control. The thing is, when we feel like our lives are spinning out of control we take hold of the few things we can control and oftentimes abuse or misuse them. That’s where food comes in to play. What to eat and when to eat, are two things most people, of a certain age, can control. When going through a serious trauma people often take it out on their own bodies. They either begin eating their feelings or stop eating altogether. All of this is just an attempt to create some structure and order in their lives.
Now, of course, there is the aspect of self-image. With all the tribulations I was experiencing at the time, for some reason I thought if I was at least beautiful and attractive then life would be better. During this time I was heavy into pop culture and celebrity news. Their lives just seemed so perfect, and they were all so beautiful. Somehow my brain coupled physical beauty with having a “beautiful life”. I think this is true for many young girls and women today. We think that if we can look pretty enough then someone will notice us and make all our troubles go away. That’s the root of it all I think…we want to be NOTICED; Acknowledged; Seen.
I wonder what would become of eating disorders if women and girls knew without a doubt that they are seen, known, and loved by God. I wonder if we would struggle with self-value, or contentment, or peace of mind. I wonder if we would go through such extremes to meet someone’s standard of beauty if we knew that our beauty came primarily from a character of righteousness. What do you think? (Write your comments below)
Here’s how I used the word of God to break free from eating disorders:
- I accepted that God values my body and how I use it. This scripture convicted me every time I would think of purging. I first heard it while eavesdropping on a conversation my Uncle was having with my Aunt. Because of this conviction, I communicated with God often to repent and ask for help. He never turned away from me in my weakness, he won’t forsake you either.
- 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.
- I started being honest about my insecurities and secret struggles. I heard this scripture a lot growing up. However, I never really paid attention to it. Somehow, It had inadvertently sunk into my consciousness and caused me to spill out my guts to God. I told him every thought and feeling that came upon me. During this season He truly became my counselor and my Father. It’s crucial for anyone struggling with any sinful habit to have a relationship with God whereby they feel free to bring their issues to His feet…He truly cares.
- Psalm 55:22 Cast your burden on the Lord, And He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved.
- I learned that TRUE beauty is deeper than your physical appearance. True beauty in God’s eyes comes from a woman who lives righteously. After I began to explore this concept, my desires started to change. I no longer wanted to look or act like the celebrities I admired at the time. I now wanted to find myself in Christ and be her…I mean me =).
- Proverbs 31:30 Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.
If you find yourself struggling with eating disorders today. I encourage you to pray and ask God for grace to overcome it and to lead you to someone who can counsel you through it. God gives us community for a reason. Don’t try to handle it alone if you don’t have to. You may even email me if you need extra support. firstname.lastname@example.org