by Neeva Walters
click here to read “Understanding Disordered Eating”
Recovering from disordered eating can seem like a long, fearful journey. Yet our God is the God of Hope, the Great Physician, the Giver of all Good Gifts. Can we trust God to help us glorify Him in eating? I believe so.
If you are seeking freedom from destructive habits, consider some of the following principles.
Recognizing that you have disordered eating is critical. Rules and regulations, the “perfect” diet, or just “trying harder” will not bring freedom. It takes humility to say, “God, I am out of control!”
Disordered eating habits are hard to walk away from. Even when I knew I had a problem, I didn’t want to submit it to the Lord because I was afraid He might do something I didn’t like. “This is part of who I am — I will feel lost if He makes me stop. And He might let me gain weight!”
I was assuming it was God’s goal for me to be thin. Instead, He wanted me to depend on Him, glorify Him, and be secure in His love…and, therefore, in the way He created me.
Pray for God to make you willing to give up disordered eating. If we come to Him in brokenness, He will forgive every sin and give us a desire to glorify Him in our eating.
Do you have a safe mentor to whom you can confess your struggle? The freedom in knowing that someone else knows your battle is incredible. She should be trustworthy, supportive and keep you accountable. Perhaps you can both research disordered eating together so that you can better understand and avoid the pitfalls.
Offering God Our Emotions
Because disordered eating is usually connected with emotions, try to get in touch with your feelings and direct them toward God. Before you eat or deny yourself food, ask yourself, “What am I feeling? Am I eating (or starving/purging/exercising) because of my feelings?”
Obviously, it’s okay to feel emotion, but ask the Lord to help you deal with it Biblically. Instead of suppressing emotions or letting them control us, we can follow the example of the psalmist in Psalm 42.
He felt depressed (“Why are you downcast, oh my soul?”) and was honest with God about how he felt (“I say to God my Rock, ‘Why have You forgotten me?’”). Yet in all of that, he offered those feelings up to God and found satisfaction in the Lord (“Hope in God for I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God“).
Renewing Our Thoughts
Whether out of ignorance or sin, thoughts that are untrue cause damage. Our thoughts must be renewed and taken captive constantly. Ask the Lord to help you become more aware of what you are saying to yourself. Don’t just listen to yourself, talk to yourself.
Here are three thoughts I had to “tell myself” frequently.
- “I am feeling worthless right now. But I know that I am worth something as a creation of God. He considered me worth dying for, though I was His enemy. And now I am His daughter!”
- “I think God hates me because I failed again. But I know that His love is unconditional and not based on my performance. I can confess and rest in the assurance of His unfailing love.”
- “I think I am ugly and hateful. But I am wonderfully and fearfully made, and I will treat my body with respect because God has entrusted me with it as a stewardship.”
Making Practical Changes
We are not victims of who we are or our circumstances. Christ has given us power to deal with every situation.
However, we all have specific temptations. Sometimes we need to get out of certain situations that we are weak in. For me, that meant tossing my bathroom scale. Be honest and get rid of your stumbling blocks, whether that means quitting ballet, not looking at fashion magazines, or asking your mom not to buy junk food.
Hope for the Future
When I realized that my struggle was a part of God’s plan, my perspective changed. I began to see that His glory was made manifest in my weakness, not in my strength.
If I had not battled disordered eating, I wouldn’t understand His love and my dependence on Him like I do now. What a powerful thought, that God can even use my sin to display His glory! What Satan intends for evil, God will use for good.
That gives us great hope.
- Love to Eat, Hate to Eat: Breaking the Bondage of Destructive Eating Habits book by Elyse Fitzpatrick
- FINDINGbalance: Eat Well, Live Free: a Christian non-profit dedicated to providing practical resources to help people live healthier, more balanced lives, FREE from eating and body image issues.
Neeva lives with her husband Brian in Southern California and works as a full time housewife, part time piano teacher. Family, friends and church keep Neeva and Brian very busy and they love to have people over to their home. They are expecting their first child in March, 2013. Neeva’s favorite hobbies include reading, backpacking, gardening, art, and music. You can contact Neeva with comments or questions at neevawalters at gmail dot com.