Eating Disorders: What my experience taught me
How trusting God helped me find hope and healing.
I don’t intend to cover all aspects of eating disorders in this article because every experience is different and unique – and every journey to recovery is unique too. Help and support can come from a range of different people including friends, family, and medical specialists.
So while I can’t cover everything, what I want to do is give those struggling with an eating disorder (and those supporting them) some insights that God gave me that helped in my recovery.
Please be warned, this article may be confronting. If you need help, use the links at the end of this article get the support you need.
These are some of the things that helped me most – I hope they might help you too.
1. Focus on what God says
At the heart of my eating disorder were lies that I believed about myself.
Those lies often got in the way of me obeying God’s commands and I realised that I needed to be rid of them if I wanted to live my life for Jesus.
The solution? I had to, “Set [my mind] on things above…” (Colossians 3:2) and think about, “…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable…” (Philippians 4:8).
In a practical sense, this means I constantly remember that I’m beautiful and that I’m God’s much-loved creation (Psalm 139:14). In doing so, I discovered that, over time, these thoughts came naturally.
2. Adopt a new self
In any situation, obeying God’s commands involves getting rid of the old, sinful self and becoming someone who endeavours to live a godly life.
Think of it as getting out of your annoying school uniform into fresh, clean PJs. Paul puts it this way in Ephesians 4:22-24: “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be renewed in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”
Practically, this means that I try, as much as is humanly possible, to not fall back into the behaviours that were part of my annoying “old uniform”.
3. Seek strength in Jesus
For anyone, including me, eating disorders generate a whole lot of fear and anxiety.
When trying to overcome these things, I abided in 1 John 4:18, which encourages, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment.”
I still abide by this verse constantly, alongside Philippians 4:6-7: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
4. Get the medical help you need
Now, despite just giving you all this Biblical wisdom, I do want to stress one important point: if you are struggling with an eating disorder, you need to get medical help.
Talk to health professionals who God can use to help you recover. These people can work with both you and your family to ensure that the right medical measures are put in place to help you in getting back onto the right path.
5. Have patience
I want you to be encouraged. While you will have setbacks in the recovery process - which are completely normal – most people do get better.
These things take time, patience, strength, prayer and a lot of help. Remember what Paul said: “I can do all this through Him who gives me strength,” and what David said: “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”
For Further Reading
If you want to learn more about eating disorders, here are some websites among the many fantastic ones out there:
- USA: https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/warning-signs-and-symptoms
- Australia: https://thebutterflyfoundation.org.au
- UK: https://www.beateatingdisorders.org.uk
- Canada: http://nedic.ca
- New Zealand: https://www.ed.org.nz
- International: https://www.eatingdisorderhope.com/treatment-for-eating-disorders/international
- Freedom From Eating Disorders (Christian site): https://freedomfromed.com/