Gaining Freedom from an Eating Disorder
As someone who has walked through an eating disorder, it breaks my heart every time I spot a fellow ED warrior or hear of someone I know who is battling this disease. Eating disorders do not only drain literal life out of it’s victim, but also drains the joy out of life. ED’s promise satisfaction, status, glory, beauty and it all ends up empty. This is why I am so passionate about sharing my story with others and helping fellow sisters avoid the lies that ED promises, yet never delivers.
Also, before I continue, I do want to give a disclaimer, that I am not a medical professional or dietitian. Everything I have said an am about to say is from my own, personal experience. Nothing more and nothing less. Before making any life changing decisions, please consult a doctor. My advice is merely me sharing my heart, like we are friends, sitting at a coffee shop and sharing our personal struggles.
Eating disorders are tricky things, because they start in the mind. The mind is a battlefield and we must treat it as so. Biblically speaking, we must guard our hearts, for from it ‘flows the springs of life.’ Eating disorders, start out as lies. Lies like “If I just dropped a few pounds, I would be beautiful.” “I don’t really need a snack today.” “I can skip breakfast, after all it is almost lunch time anyway.” “I’m so full after having that apple for lunch, I guess I don’t need anymore food.” etc, etc. Once the lies are entertained, our minds dwell on them and then, eventually act upon the lie that is now ‘truth’ in our minds.
Since EDs are such mental battles, my first encouragement to anyone struggling with an eating disorder or disordered thinking about food/body image is to tell someone. It took me a long time to actually fess up to myself that I struggled with this area. After all, I was a Christian and Christians don’t struggle. Right? WRONG. WRONG with a capital W. Christians, just like anyone struggle with lies the enemy wants them to believe, whether it is lies about self worth, shame, guilt, identity, depression, guy relationships, or body image, Christians struggle and it is just part of living in a fallen, sinful world. The difference, as believers though, is there is hope. We have truth. Truth like “I am fearfully and wonderfully made, marvelous are your works and I know that full well.” or truth like, “I will run in the path of your commandments, for you have set my heart FREE.” And with those promises, there is hope.
Once, I realized that a Christian can struggle with lies/sin like eating disorders, I finally accepted that, I, in fact, was struggling and needed help. By this point, my parent’s knew and I got accountability (whether I wanted it or not at that point.) Honestly, it was hard, having people know your sin struggles, saying things I knew I needed to hear, but didn’t want to hear. But, it was the best thing for me at the point in time.
So, after admitting it to yourself and telling others, my next encouragement is to surround yourself with accountability and unplug for social media accounts that are glorifying body image.
This was something my mom challenged me on and at first, I remember being defensive. I thought it was helpful for me to be following these ‘healthy’ people who were gym rats and taking pictures of their tightly toned bodies. And while I support and cheer on healthy bodies and muscles, it was healthy for me to be consuming pictures of these ‘perfect’ bodies 24/7. I started cleaning up my Instagram and found more freedom in following more ‘real life’ people and less body-obsessed gym rats. Eating disorders are plagued with comparison traps and for me at the time, following people that posted so many gym selfies was only feeding my comparison problem and not encouraging me at all.
After cleaning up your Instagram/social media feed, I would encourage my friend to think about the big picture of life. I remember this being a turning point for me, in my struggle. Immediate gratification told me to skip meals, it told me to look a certain way and it told me to stay at the certain number on the scale (also, scales are NOT your friends, btw.) but when I thought about the big picture of life, when I remembered my deep desire to be a wife, a mother, to have a family and actually ENJOY life; I realized that I couldn’t stay where I was.
I didn’t want to not be able to have children, I didn’t want to look back on my life and only remember thinking about food CONSTANTLY or being so hungry my hands were shaking through the hours I didn’t allow myself to have food. I didn’t want to only remember times where I was the only awkward person to not eat at a family function, or not enjoy the cookies my grandma made, especially for the grand kids. I didn’t want to only think back on times I worked out tirelessly, but didn’t make time for others.
I wanted to look back on life and look forward to a life of LIVING. Living for the Lord, not having my mind constantly plagued by food/weight/calories/macros/nutrition/meals/etc. I wanted to truly enjoy an ice cream cone with ZERO guilt and share life with people over ordered in pizza. I wanted to eat healthy because it felt good and tasted right, NOT because I was forcing myself to or I would only allow myself to eat only those foods. I wanted to get married. I wanted people to hug me and not feel my bones. I wanted to have babies and be able to not feel tired and cold, constantly. I wanted to simply, enjoy, savor life with my family and friends and not let and eating disorder come in between me and my most sacred relationships.
And once I realized that my ‘precious,’ ED was holding me back from my future goals, it was a lot easier to let it go.
Yes, it took a while to fully let go of my ‘control’ on things and to find freedom in new, uncharted territory of initiative eating. But the freedom I found in Christ and in letting go of my ED, have been time and time again, so very, very much worth it.
So friend, if you are scared of where to start, where to begin; if you are healing from an eating disorder, there is hope. There is help. And there is healing and freedom in Christ. Freedom from an eating disorder is so wonderful. And I want you to experience that too.