Eating Disorders, Info & Help

Eating Disorders: It is all about the heart

I admit it. Whenever I hear anyone touting fitness and health, my uneasy radar goes up. As someone in recovery from eating disorders, it's a sensitive thing. And, for as many people, who, indeed, strive to get healthier for health's sake, how many others are only looking to lose weight?

And, how many develop disordered eating behaviors and mindsets during that pursuit?

I may come across as overly critical here, but it's because the issue has hit so close to home. Not only have I personally battled disordered thoughts and behaviors, including anorexia and bulimia, I've also seen how it has spread within my family as well.

And, mostly, within that family context, the decision to diet or exercise is born out of a desire to be thin and to lose weight.

As a little girl, that was, indeed, my desire. I wanted to be good, lovable and pretty. And, I believed I wasn't because of my overweight physique.

I speak about it in my book, Thin Enough: My Spiritual Journey Through the Living Death of an Eating Disorder.

"...My first diet ended almost when it started, beginning an endless dieting roller-coaster. Diet after diet would start with this angelic-choir Hallelujah moment, followed by this new revelation that 'This is the diet. Diet ye in it.'"

Denial: Trying to Disguise the Truth

What Cracker?

He who covers his sins will not prosper: but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy. Proverbs 28:13

Denial: it's a ridiculous looking thing.

I once saw a photograph of a mouse, looking straight at the camera, cheeks puffed out to a Saltine's square shape. And the tag line attached was "What cracker?"

It made me think of my own erratic disordered eating behaviors, including stealing my roommates' food and dumpster diving.

"...I thought I was hiding my secret well from the outside world. I replenished the food I'd stolen from my roommates. I played ‘beat the clock' before they came home to notice...

...It became a regular hide and steal, hide and eat, hide and deny game... I knew their schedules by heart. I'd wait for them to leave for class. I'd hurry home, skipping my own classes to ensure enough time alone... I had to eat as much as I could before they came home...

... I'd be first to volunteer among my roommates to take out the trash, because I knew what ‘goodies' I'd thrown out...

...Trips to the dumpster at 2:30 a.m. were not unusual... I'd rummage through other people's trash bags...

...I was caught on more than one occasion. I'd try to play it off, pretending everything was normal as people passed by me scrounging in the dumpster. As I became more desperate, however, I began going to the dumpster frequently in broad daylight while other students were coming and going from class... I tried to convince myself I could ‘just act natural' and disguise the truth..."

I was asking, "What Cracker?"

At the Pleasure of the Savior (A Big Recovery Key)

One of my favorite series I catch on Netflix is "The West Wing." While watching it, I became aware of a standard response regarding the president's staff: "I serve at the pleasure of the President." I don't know if this response really exists or if it was just for dramatic purposes. But I started thinking about the service issue.

When I was thirteen, I served as a waitress for my cousin's wedding. Thank you. Yes, I'm still recovering. Let's just say I was not skilled. I tried not to spill food, break plates and grumble. It was not an easy feat. So, I had a negative view of serving.

But, alas, it's all over the place in Christianity, isn't it?

Thou shalt fear the LORD thy God, and serve him, and shalt swear by his name." Deuteronomy 6:13

"...what doth the LORD thy God require of thee, but to fear the LORD thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the LORD thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul," Deuteronomy 10:12

"If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour." John 12:26

The Superstitions of Eating Disorders


"Eating rituals: Refers to compulsive behaviors surrounding eating. When the ritualistic behaviors are interrupted, patients often experience intense anxiety and may refuse to eat at all. Examples of rituals include: weighing and measuring food, sometimes repeatedly, eating specific foods and in a particular order, use of a particular bowl/plate/glass, cutting food into small pieces, disassembling food, eating a rigid amount of calories and stopping once that amount is reached, eating only at specified times. Rituals are often evident in binge eating; such as a specific pattern of purchasing/gathering large quantities of food, which is usually consumed in secrecy during binge episodes. Rituals are also seen in EDNOS and bulimia nervosa. In bulimia, rituals include amassing and ingesting large quantities of food, followed by purging (compensatory behavior), usually in secrecy." http://glossary.feast-ed.org/2-eating-disorders-symptoms-and-behaviors/eating-rituals

Most of us are aware of the superstition concept. Whether it is such things as the number 13, black cats or the danger of walking under a ladder, there's the guarantee if we heed a particular superstition in the right way, we will be safe.

It reminded me of eating disorder behavior. Often, the rituals involved can serve as a comforting, protective superstition.

For instance, when I was at the height of my anorexia, each morning, I had an exacting routine, including, but not limited to, physical exercise and diet. Starting out, I prayed each morning to God to die early. I know, morbid. Nevertheless, I had both an overwhelming worst case fear of God and a simultaneous plea of Him for relief. I wanted the pain and the struggle to end. And because of these thoughts, I, likewise, believed if I skipped even one morning of this routine, I'd be eternally doomed.

"Fat" or "Beautiful" ?

I recently caught a documentary on sex symbol Bettie Page. In it, the withdrawn, elderly phenomenon recounted her entire life, including her racy photographs and films which catered to bondage, nudity and fetish culture.

According to Ms. Page's commentary, she initially tried the conventional methods first. However, the well- known Ford modeling agency rejected her. Founder Eileen Ford, herself, flat out told Bette she was too short and "too hippy."

So, Bettie turned to the more controversial avenue, which subsequently launched her into being the pop culture icon she is today.

And, due to her influence, there are numerous photos flooding the internet, with captions including, "Today, we'd call her fat."

It's makes for a strong body image message. Indeed, looking at her image, what is our response? Do we think she's fat?

Likewise, there's the legendary sex symbol, Marilyn Monroe. She was reportedly a size 12 or 14. Some even speculate she was a size 16!

Again, when we see her, when we are faced with her numbers, what's our first reaction?

She's beautiful?

Distortion: What is the Size of the Scale?

Distortion. It's a major factor which drives disorder, compulsion and addiction.

And, for those of us recovering from disordered eating and negative body image issues, a crucial centerpiece of our distortion is the scale.
We are ruled by it. We step on it daily, sometimes even several times a day. I know I did, at my worst. We feel defeat or victory, depends upon what the numbers say.

And likewise, in response to this scale obsession, we've also heard many a platitude about how "Your weight is not your worth" and "You're more than a number."

It is easier heard than believed or lived.

Nevertheless, our thoughts determine the quality of our lives.

For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he... Proverbs 23:7

Put simply, it's how you and I see things. And for most of us who struggle, the scale has loomed too large in our lives. We have completely lost perspective. We determine everything solely by what it says.

Recently, I acquired a dollhouse miniature scale; it's about an inch big. And looking at it, I see how insignificant it truly is. I can hold it on my index finger. But it has no power to decide my worth, my success or destiny. I could flick it into oblivion with my finger if I so choose.

Self-Image: Belief and the Media

It's difficult to live in this culture and not hit negative body image. It's particularly potent for those of us struggling with disordered eating and image issues. Check out the statistics:

  • Numerous correlational and experimental studies have linked exposure to the thin ideal in mass media to body dissatisfaction, internalization of the thin ideal, and disordered eating among women.
  • The effect of media on women's body dissatisfaction, thin ideal internalization, and disordered eating appears to be stronger among young adults than children and adolescents. This may suggest that long-term exposure during childhood and adolescence lays the foundation for the negative effects of media during early adulthood.
  • Pressure from mass media to be muscular also appears to be related to body dissatisfaction among men. This effect may be smaller than among women but it is still significant.
  • Young men seem to be more negatively affected by the media images than adolescent boys are.
  • (Media, Body Image, and Eating Disorders:
    http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/media-body-image-and-eating-disorders)

    We cannot underestimate the influence of media. George Orwell warned us of that sentiment years earlier:
    "The people believe what the media tells them they believe."

    What are you willing to change?Premium Content

    We're in the middle of cold and flu season; sickness abounds.

    And, it's at this time of year, I think about healing. It's one thing to be flu-ridden, queasy, achy, possessing a high fever and wish to be well.

    However, it's another thing if we struggle with addictions and compulsions; they are also referred to as "disease." With that situation, we're often conflicted at best and resistant and unhealthy at worst. What is our response to the question, "Do you want to get well?"

    Hey, even Jesus asked the question.

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    Nothing Personal: Eating Disorders & Christmas

    So far, I haven't thrown the Christmas tree out the window, but I feel if one more inappropriate comment is made at a holiday party/festivity, a certain sidewalk could possibly look a bit merrier.

    "It's nothing personal." It's a well-worn phrase, sometimes used as a dismissive slight, just to get a dig in.

    Unfortunately, in the context of holiday parties, this personal minefield, be it in the form of a question or comment, can wreak some extremely sensitive havoc in our lives, especially those of us who are in recovery from eating disorders. Be it a personal question or a personal comment, the impact is still destructive and can tempt the best of us to look for the nearest Christmas tree to launch out of the nearest portal.

    Death and life are in the power of the tongue:
    and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.
    Proverbs 18:21

    Indeed.

    Some people out there may think I've completely lost my sense of humor. Can I be honest here? I think those are often the people who find "fat jokes," for example, extremely funny. Laughing at someone who's struggling- hilarious.

    Nevertheless, as someone in recovery from eating disorders, the holidays can be a touchy and downright miserable situation to be in, when a person asks or comments about food or body image issues; it's triggering. A few examples…

    Is the price Jesus paid for you and me enough?

    "It cost God plenty to get you and me out of that dead-end, empty-headed life we grew up in."

    Is the price Jesus paid for you and me enough? Do you feel that you need to add your (good intentioned) efforts-kind of like the "Cross of Calvary", plus you? We may need to meditate on the following scriptures to sort out the before questions.

    I posted this recently, but have a strong sense from God that someone desperately needs this truth, right at this moment! Please stand with me in intercession for those who truly can't live another day without the revelation of Calvary.

    How blessed is God! And what a blessing he is! He's the Father of our Master, Jesus Christ, and takes us to the high places of blessing in him. Long before he laid down earth's foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son.

    Punishments chalked up by all our misdeeds. And just barely free either; abundantly free! He thought of everything, provided for everything we could possibly need, letting us in on the plans he took such delight in making. He set it all out before us in Christ, a long-range plan in which everything would be brought together and summed up in him, everything in deepest heaven, and everything on planet earth.

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