Thoughts on To the Bone: Unmasking the Myths and Misconceptions Surrounding Eating Disorders

636353006485117038-TTB-Longplay-30-R2

*Trigger Warning: The contents in the post may be triggering/bothersome for individuals who struggle with eating disorders/disordered eating, but that is not the intention of the post. This post is about raising awareness and education about a very difficult topic that hits close to home for so many. Read at your own discretion. The movie To the Bone is triggering, controversial, and in many ways dark, so it’s difficult to address it without addressing some of those issues. I wouldn’t recommend watching it if you struggle with body image, self-worth, excessive exercise, or disordered eating patterns. If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, contact the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) hotline for support at (800) 931-2237.

After recently watching To the Bone, I didn’t know how I felt about it. I’ve spent weeks trying to put into words how I even began processing the film. For those of you who don’t know, the Netflix original movie is about an adolescent girl who goes to inpatient treatment for severe anorexia. The film is beyond triggering to anyone who is tampering with disordered eating patterns or in the depths of a full blown eating disorder. How could it not be? The film was created to portray an illness that steals so much joy and life from those who suffer from it, and has so many psychological and physiological consequences associated with it. Anorexia has the highest mortality rate of all mental illnesses¹, so naturally the movie has some dark moments in it, similar to the Netflix original movie 13 Reasons Why

I don’t get triggered by being around those who have eating disorders or those who exhibit behaviors because I know the hell that they have to go through to look how they do. I know the pain that they experience each day. I know how hard it is. 

So I decided to watch. I want to be in this field. I want to work with individuals who have eating disorders one day, and I want to be informed about what information (or lack there of) that is out there for the public to access regarding a topic that is near and dear to my heart. 

First of all……….It made me cringe hearing that actress Lily Collins (who plays Ellen) purposely and intentionally lost weight for the role. She herself struggled with an eating disorder very recently, so it almost seemed cruel and inhumane to allow her to intentionally lose weight after walking through a journey of recovery. Nothing about me supports that decision. I don’t care if she was “monitored by professionals”. Anyone can say that or do that. Monitoring and intervention are two separate actions. For this reason alone, I was turned off by the movie. 

For the majority of the movie, I didn’t know what to think, because it was simply one angle of one person’s view of ED recovery and all that goes into that. Nothing more, nothing less. One person to represent an experience that is so different and unique for each person.

There were moments where the movie truly did hit home for me, when I could relate to Ellen and her recovery experiences. Is that sad? Yeah, but it was a quick reminder of how devastating it is to live a life under the influence of ED. 

I didn’t agree with the weight loss. I didn’t agree with the blatant reference to triggering behaviors. I didn’t agree with the way in-patient treatment was portrayed. I didn’t agree with the nutrition therapy philosophy/meal time portrayal (which, by the way, doesn’t happen in real life). I didn’t like that for most of the movie, Ellen was without hope and not making any progress whatsoever. 

If anything, the movie convinced me more of the importance of sharing my story, and having open dialogue about disordered eating and eating disorders. 

One of the most dangerous misconceptions about eating disorders is that you must be extremely underweight and malnourished to have an eating disorder. 

Let me say it again: There are many, many people who have clinically diagnosable eating disorders or disordered eating patterns that have not lost weight, or have even gained some.

There are people who are like Ellen, who just look like they have an eating disorder, who bounce in and out of treatment facilities, and who remain extremely underweight and unhealthy for long periods of time. This is a very real and very big problem. But it’s not the only issue and doesn’t represent the majority of people.  

I once believed that eating disorders were only for super skinny white girls that looked like skeletons. I never thought it would be me. Yet, here I am. A year and a half into recovery for an illness that I didn’t believe would ever affect me. All because I believed the lie that you have to be skinny to have an eating disorder. 

14292408_10208988796228530_5218739978281812512_n
This picture was taken in the beginning stages of my recovery from anorexia, when I was severely malnourished and on the brink of admission to an inpatient facility. Most people wouldn’t ever guess that because in this picture I look healthy. 

Many, many people who suffer from eating disorders have only lost a few pounds or have maintained their weight. 

Some people gain weight. 

Some people lose weight. 

Some people suffer from severe physical consequences, while others can seem to get by completely unnoticed. 

One thing is for certain: Everyone who has every walked through disordered eating or an eating disorder has experienced trauma and psychological distress. 

Someone who is obese can meet criteria for anorexia. 

Likewise, others who are “normal” in weight and size may suffer from binge eating disorder.

There is no rhyme or reason to it, which is why it can be so difficult to detect. 

This stigma makes those who aren’t “stick skinny” feel more guilt and shame for the behaviors they are engaging in and the things they are feeling. Why would you seek out expensive treatment if you had no noticeable lab changes and you were at a normal weight? Most people wouldn’t. They wouldn’t want to be judged. They wouldn’t want to be mocked. They wouldn’t want to look crazy. 

I was one of those people. 

IMG_3420
I had a couple of emotional breakdowns the week of my engagement pictures due to anxiety associated with my eating disorder and body dysmorphic disorder. I don’t think anyone would get that sort of vibe from this picture. Things aren’t always as they seem. 

I knew that I had a “weird” relationship with food, but I never thought that I would come close to developing an eating disorder, much less anorexia. 

As I gradually began losing weight, (for a number of reasons), I began to get so many compliments about how great I looked. It was only my family and husband that began to notice that I had lost a little too much weight. 

“Wow! This is the best I have ever seen you!” 

“You have some nice legs! Do you run?”

“What’s your secret?” 

“How much weight have you lost?!”

“Your so healthy!!” 

With the world that we live in, I shouldn’t have expected anything less. I knew that I had a problem, but my rigid diet regimen and exercise obsession didn’t seem to be enough to communicate that I was sick. People celebrate “clean eating”, obsessive exercising, dieting, and calorie counting more than any other generation before us. Disordered eating patterns (restricting food, rewarding ourselves after following our diets, labeling foods as “good and bad”, obsessively reading labels, etc.) has become the norm. 

It’s like you can’t escape it. 

The Fitbit challenges, food comments, “fat burning” workout routines…..we love it, and in many ways we live for it. I know I did.  

I had to lose more weight. I had to send a signal for help. It was the only way that I felt that I could be heard and communicate the psychological pain that was masked behind the eating disorder behaviors. 

Most days it was easy to hide. 

Processed with VSCO with t1 preset
This was taken 3 months into treatment. It took everything in me to not look up the calorie, fat, and sugar content in this ice-cream.
Processed with VSCO with m3 preset
In this picture I had just started weekly therapy sessions. The picture seems normal enough to me, but I know that in my heart and soul that I wasn’t healthy and that I wasn’t okay. 

Others, not so much. 

IMG_6918
I didn’t really notice the muscle deterioration in my legs and arms until a few years after taking this picture. Again, in this picture, I was still at a normal, healthy weight and BMI, but that weight and BMI wasn’t healthy for the way that God made me. 

 

 

13327582_10208214276066010_3694042037217502486_n
I never thought there would be a day where I could attain the oh so coveted “thigh gap”. I also didn’t realize how much it would cost me. This picture was taken the day after relapse. My mom was very intentional about spending time with me and getting me out of the house. 

I dove into a deep pit of hopelessness and despair, most of which could have been avoided if I had asked for help sooner.

The point of this post is not to bash Marti Noxon or Lily Collins for their work. I think their heart behind it was to spread awareness and spark conversation. Would I have done it the same way? Not necessarily. But then again, I am not really into the business of making movies and such…so I just blog instead. I just didn’t want anyone who did watch the movie to think that they are not sick enough to get help. There is no “sick enough”, only sick.

The purpose of this post is to show the world a real-life example of life with an eating disorder, one that wasn’t necessarily marked by pro-longed skinniness and years in treatment facilities. Those stories are out there, and they are real and painful and true. But there are many other stories out there that also are very real and painful and true, yet they don’t involve weight loss, or as least the appearance of it. I truly believe that the one of the only reason I became malnourished was because I didn’t seek help when I began to see warning signs and knew something was wrong. I don’t want that to happen to you. I don’t want that to happen to anyone. That’s why I share my story so readily, to prevent, educate, and provide hope. 

If your relationship with food disrupts your life in any way (physically, mentally, emotionally, socially, or spiritually), you should seek help. 

If you cannot go to a restaurant without having anxiety about what to order from the menu, you should seek help. 

If you can’t go a day without counting calories (even when it’s just in your head), you should seek help. 

If you get anxiety thinking about a day off from the gym, you should seek help. 

If you consistently and regularly rely on food (or lack there of) to coop with stress, you should seek help. 

If you can’t concentrate during work, school, church, etc. you should seek help. 

If food rules your life, you should seek help. 

Not because you are crazy, not because you have anything to be ashamed of, and not because you are weak. 

Because you deserve better. 

Because you want to have a family. 

Because you want to be present. 

Because you want to follow your dreams.

Because you want to have a career. 

Because you want the freedom to choose between the rice cake with nut butter and the chocolate chip cookie. 

Because you want the ability to eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full. 

Because you want your life to be about more than food and exercise. 

Life is too short, and it becomes even shorter when disordered eating comes into play. 

Reach out to a trusted friend or family member. If they are worthy of being in your life they will listen, empathize, understand, and help you take the next steps in order to heal. 

Vulnerability isn’t weak; to be vulnerable is to be brave. 

To seek help is to have courage.

Be brave today with me. 

fullsizeoutput_30a2

 

REFERENCES:

  1. Hamilton, G., & Elenback, R. (2015-2017). Anorexia Nervosa – Highest Mortality Rate of Any Mental Disorder: Why? Retrieved August 19, 2017, from Penn State State Hershey Medical Center Eating Disorder Program

 

Dear Younger Me

Dear Younger Me,

College will be a season of great change and growth for you, one that is full of excitement and so much fun. College is one of the most transformational times in your life; it’s normal to feel overwhelmed, excited, and anxious all at the same time. It’s a big change, but it can be a really good change. God has set the path before you, there is no reason to fear. You will adjust to the change. You will miss your family, but you will also grow to appreciate them on a new level. You will figure out a major that fits you, even if it takes a few years. You will make some of the best friends in your life, even if it takes a little time. You won’t be stuck in the dorm eating cafeteria food forever. Don’t worry about the “freshman 15” (or the freshman 5, for that matter), it’s okay to gain a few pounds when your body is still growing and maturing. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Don’t worry about what you cannot control. Don’t be so busy with school that you forget to live.

God will provide for you financially and in every other way that you need. You will love Him more than at any other point in your life. You will learn how to share the gospel with other people and be bold for Jesus. You will experience unity with the body of Christ in a radical way. You will learn how to fight for joy on the harder days. Your faith will become your own, the rock and solid foundation that you build your new “adult” life upon. 

Over the next four years, you will learn and be reminded of many things, the most important being who God is and who you are in him. 

God is your loving father. 

Ever-present.

Sovereign savior. 

Glorious king. 

Righteous redeemer. 

Fountain of satisfaction. 

Protector.

Deliverer.

Defender. 

What does this mean for you? Because you have entrusted your life to Jesus…

You are never condemned. 

You are paid for. 

You are washed clean. 

You are redeemed.

You will be made like Jesus. 

You will be set free from anything that is enslaving you on this earth. 

You are a beloved daughter of the most high king. 

The plan for your life is already figured out. 

You have been saved from death, hell, and the grave.

God has marked you with a seal, that is, the Holy Spirit. 

Nothing will satisfy you more than being in the presence of the Lord. 

You will be protected by God.

You are never alone. 

You will be delivered from evil. 

Nothing will over take you. 

You soar on wings like eagles. 

You will run and not grow weary. 

You will walk and not be faint. 

The angel of the Lord encamps around you. 

You are precious to God. 

You are beautiful to God. 

You are made in the perfect, precious image of God. 

You are a righteous child of God.

You are a conquerer in Christ. 

You are going to rock it these next four years.

Believe in yourself, because God is within you, and you will not fall.

pexels-photo-261909

 

 

Reaching Out to People Instead of your Eating Disorder

Because of my experience in eating disorder recovery, when I blog about mental illness, I focus primarily on the disorders that I have been most affected by: anxiety, depression, OCD, and my eating disorder. However, many of the things that I have learned in therapy are applicable for individuals who struggle with other mental illnesses, addictions, self-harm, and suicidal thoughts. This topic is one of those things.

This concept of reaching out to other people instead of our unhealthy cooping mechanisms is one that is easy to comprehend, yet so hard to carry out.

Reaching out to other people requires effort, and lots of it.

IMG_6963

Identifying your recovery team

It first requires you to identify the people that you trust with your recovery. These are your “go-to” people when you are having a hard day or are on the verge of relapse. These people are “safe”. They may or may not have gone through what you are experiencing, but they are always willing to listen with compassion, show grace, and empathize without completely understanding. There may be people in your life who aren’t worthy of your recovery journey.

These people are “unsafe”. They often lack the maturity or experience that it takes to understand the type of pain associated with mental illness. They may care about you as a friend, but that don’t know how to empathize or how to respond on a hard day. You may still be able to trust them, but maybe not as an accountability partner in your recovery. They may not understand that talking about diet, exercise, and weight can be very triggering and unhelpful when it comes to your recovery.

You want to surround yourself with people who you love, trust, and can rely on to help you get better. One of the hardest parts is at the beginning of your journey, you may find that some people who you thought were “safe” for you, aren’t actually. That can be a tough pill to swallow. Simply put, you find out who your real friends are when you walk through a season of suffering. There have been some bumps in the road, but I have been able to identify the “safe” people in my life, and I am comfortable with the people that I have let in on my recovery journey.

Talking about support expectations

Once you have identified your “safe” people, it’s a good idea to ask them to be apart of your recovery/support team. When doing so, ask each person about personal boundaries and the type of support they can best provide. For example, my treatment team is always available via e-mail and will generally respond quickly when I have a question or need additional support. They also support me at our appointments. Their support looks different than the support from my mom, for example, who provides financial support, spiritual support, and emotional support around the clock. It wouldn’t be appropriate for me to contact my recovery team at 10:00 PM, but I know that my mom wouldn’t mind answering a phone call if I needed her late at night. Likewise, I’m not going to wake my sister up at 5:00 AM. Some friends/family members supported me by simply spending time with me, playing games, watching a movie, or going shopping with me. Many people are more comfortable with that type of support, which is something that I desperately needed. Those people were apart of some the best days, where my eating disorder didn’t seem to be ruling and reigning over my life. Yet other friends poured into me their spiritual wisdom & encouragement, by praying for me and always pointing me back to the gospel.

Two important things to note before we move on:

  1. We must choose recovery for ourselves. We must make the choice to reach out when we don’t have enough strength to fight on our own. Recovery strips away our self-sufficiency and requires us to rely on other people, no matter how independent we may think we are. Our loved ones may do everything in their power to help us recover, but at the end of the day. It’s our choice. They can’t choose recovery for us.
  2. There are things that go on in our hearts and minds that only God can heal. No therapeutic technique. No perfect meal plan. No ideal weight. No person. Only God. Lean into him, wrestle with him, cry out to him, abide in him, spend time with him. It is only then when the deepest wounds in our hearts can be healed.

Reaching out to other people

In the moment, it’s so difficult. We know what we are supposed to do. We aren’t supposed to do the things that keep us sick. We aren’t supposed to numb out our feelings…it just seems so easy to do so at the time. There were many times that I didn’t choose to reach out to people, and instead chose my eating disorder. This always made the pain worse in the long run-physically and emotionally.

The pain that my eating disorder caused me pushed me to reach out to other people, and the life that I wanted without my eating disorder pulled me when the pain wasn’t enough.

I started seeing significant progress when I started to reach out to first God, and then my support team, in moments where the temptation seemed too much to bear. I would come to God open and honest with my feelings, asking him to give me the discernment and strength to choose the next right thing in that situation, whatever that may have been. God’s Holy Spirit consistently and actively spoke to me and showed me the path I needed to walk on, it was just a matter of if I was going to choose it that day or not.

One night at work I had a strong urge to skip dinner and go to the gym instead. I felt the hunger pains in my stomach and heard the growling as I began to serve meals to other people. I knew that my body needed food, yet psychologically it was the absolute last thing I wanted to do.

I called my husband (boyfriend at the time)…no answer.

I called my mom…no answer.

“Awesome,” I thought to myself. “This is just a sign that I am supposed to go workout and that I don’t need dinner anyways. They didn’t answer so I am home free.”

Almost immediately after that thought the Holy Spirit convicted me. God had given me so many amazing resources to help me get better, but that wasn’t going to happen if I didn’t choose to do so. I knew that the LAST thing that I needed was to skip dinner and go to the gym. I couldn’t do it alone. I needed to call someone else.

I decided to call my best friend, Megan.

Megan has such a sweet, sensitive, discerning, & nonjudgmental spirit. She helps me process through my recovery slowly, thoughtfully, and intentionally. With Meg, there is no room for guilt, shame, or condemnation, only grace, compassion, listening, and understanding.

I love Megan, but I didn’t really want to talk to her when I called her.

*Please don’t pick up, please don’t pick up….*

Meg: “Hello?”

Me: “Um………I hate doing this. I hate everything about this…..but I am really tempted to skip dinner and go workout but I know that I cannot do that if I want to be healthy. I just need someone to talk to.”

And then I burst into tears. Typical.

I didn’t workout that night. After I got off the phone with Megan, I went and brought my nana flowers and then went home and ate dinner with my dad. I went to bed feeling thankful, proud, & of course, a little exhausted.

At the time, that was one of the hardest things that I had done in my recovery. There was nothing about me that wanted to reach out to other people. I wanted immediate relief from my anxiety. I didn’t want to have to be vulnerable and share my deepest struggle with other people. I hated every minute of it, but I was so glad that I did it. That night became a turning point in my recovery, one where I started to open up even more to my recovery team and trust that they knew what was best for me.

What is one way that you can reach out to people, rather than your eating disorder today?

 

 

Where is God in Depression?

pexels-photo-6

If you have walked through a season (or lifetime) of depression, or know someone who has, you understand that it is much more than having a few bad days.

Depression is draining and so heavy on the heart.  

People with depression can’t just “get better” with their own will power and hard work. If they could, they would have already done so. I would have already done so. 

I’ve spent hours wrestling with God, asking him where he is in my depression. I don’t feel like a have a good reason to be depressed. I just graduated from college with a 4.0, married the love of my life, have a wonderful group of friends, and a family that I love dearly. I am financially stable (by the grace of God) and the beginning of my career starts in just a few weeks. I have no reason to feel the way I feel sometimes, but some days I can’t shake the weighty shadow following me around.

That’s hard to explain to people, and even harder to understand. I don’t even understand it sometimes.

My mind often races with thoughts about how I am not good enough at anything that I do. I am bombarded with attacks about my physical appearance and diet + exercise routine daily, and must constantly fight back so that I don’t act on them. I still struggle with insomnia and anxiety, which worsens my depression. And last year at this time, I weighed 30 pounds less and was extremely malnourished, entrenched in the depths of anorexia.

Food restriction leads to psychological problems; it makes your brain crazy, and so does having an eating disorder.¹ My depression made a little more sense from a world standpoint just a year ago.

I now no longer restrict food. I am no longer malnourished. I am no longer underweight. My sleep patterns are starting to normalize (although there is still much room for improvement). I have developed a much healthier relationship with food + exercise (again, there is still room for improvement), and I am starting to kindle a new relationship with my body. I feel like I should be able to move on & leave behind everything that I’ve been through the past year. The eating disorder. The anxiety. The compulsive exercise. The poor body image. 

Yet, the depression still lingers, for reasons that I cannot fully comprehend.

I can’t count the number of times I have cried myself to sleep, begging God to take this burden off of my shoulders.

In many ways, he has.

His love has healed my heart in ways that nothing else on this earth could.

His promises lift me up and give me hope. 

His presence has filled me up with joy even on the darker days.

His faithfulness in the past encourages me to trust him in the now. 

His provision sustains me day in and day out, even when the anxiety and depression levels are both high.  

But there is still healing that is yet to be done. 

Last night I had a particularly difficult night so I did the only thing I knew to do at 3:00 AM: I sought out his word and asked him to come close to me. 

He led me to Psalm 42:

“As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, my God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God?

My tears have been my food
day and night,
while people say to me all day long,
“Where is your God?”

These things I remember
as I pour out my soul:
how I used to go to the house of God
under the protection of the Mighty One,
with shouts of joy and praise
among the festive throng.

Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.

My soul is downcast within me;
therefore I will remember you
from the land of the Jordan,
the heights of Hermon—from Mount Mizar.
Deep calls to deep
in the roar of your waterfalls;
all your waves and breakers
have swept over me.

By day the Lord directs his love,
at night his song is with me—
a prayer to the God of my life.
I say to God my Rock,
“Why have you forgotten me?

Why must I go about mourning,
oppressed by the enemy?”
My bones suffer mortal agony
as my foes taunt me,
saying to me all day long,
“Where is your God?”

Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.”²

As I read these words tears began to roll down my cheeks. The psalmist put into words what my aching heart has been trying to process and piece together in these past couple of years. 

“My tears have been my food day and night…”

“Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed in me? Put your hope in God!”

“I say to God my Rock, why have you forgotten me?”

“Why must I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy?”

“My bones suffer mortal agony as my foes taunt me, saying to me all day long, where is your God?”

He doesn’t hold back. He doesn’t try to cover up. He doesn’t have a filter. He simply comes to God and asks to be healed, just as he is. This, my friends, is the first step to healing. 

Only God can heal the heart burdened by depression. 

From the very beginning, he writes, “My soul thirsts for God, the living God. Where can I go and meet with God?” The psalmist knows. He understands that it is only God that can lift him out of this pit.² He doesn’t run to other false Gods for temporary relief. He doesn’t look for easy ways to numb his pain. He runs to the one he knows will restore his joy- and he doesn’t waste time. I am so guilty of this. When I see anything that can provide me with some sort of relief I run to it so quickly that I don’t even realize what I am doing until it’s too late. And then I end up empty handed and even more broken than before. 

The very first thing he asks God is where he can go meet with him. He longs for the presence of the living God. He knows that only God can heal his heart.

As much as they may love us, our friends, family, and even doctors can’t restore to us the joy of our salvation. Alcohol doesn’t restore us. Sex doesn’t restore us. Relationships don’t restore us. Food doesn’t restore us. The perfect body doesn’t restore us. Only Jesus can do that.

Remembering God’s faithfulness gives us hope for the future.

The psalmist doesn’t understand why his soul is so burdened. We see this clearly when he asks multiple times, “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me?” It’s okay to ask why. It’s okay to wrestle with God. But there is a fine balance between asking why and living in the why. The psalmist doesn’t stay in the “why”. He moves into a place of thanksgiving and remembrance. He knows that the “whys” of his situation will only lead him to further frustration and despair. So he does what he knows to be true- he reflects on the ways that God has delivered in the past, which then leads him to worship God for who He is. He lays down the crippling circumstances in which he finds himself in. This lays the foundation for hope and is the beginning of his restored joy.

The psalmist isn’t healed the moment he lays it all out to God. There is a good chance that he had to wait on the Lord before there was any change. But he does just that. And in the waiting, he draws near to God and worships him. He invites God to be the joy in his waiting, in the time in-between. 

 

I’m not sure why depression has to be apart of my story. But I do know that it causes me to yearn for the presence of God and my home in heaven so much more so than if I didn’t struggle with it. It reveals to me the brokenness of the world we live in, and in that, makes the light of Jesus shine even more so in my life. It magnifies my need for him and pulls me into a deeper joy that I wouldn’t be able to appreciate without it. 

God isn’t absent in depression.

God is near to the broken hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.It’s not in his nature to let his beloved stay in a place of complete sorrow and despair. Even on the many days and nights where it has felt like God was far away, I know that he wasn’t. Because he never is. He promises to be with us always, & that he will never leave or forsake up. It is by his grace alone that I am where I am today, and by the joy that he has produced in my heart, a joy that could only come from worshiping and serving him. Our God is a god of hope, and there is no power that depression has that is more powerful than the finished work of the cross. This world is broken and running rampant in pain and suffering- but do not lose heart. There will be a day when he will wipe every tear for the final time, that there will be no more crying, suffering, pain, or depression. This is the hope I am holding on to. 

REFERENCES:

  1. Lasker, Gabriel Ward. “The effects of partial starvation on somatotype: an analysis of material from the Minnesota starvation experiment.” American journal of physical anthropology 5.3 (1947): 323-342.
  2. Life application study Bible. New International Version. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011. Print. Psalm 42. 
  3. Life application study Bible. New International Version. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011. Print. Psalm 40.
  4. Life application study Bible. New International Version. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011. Print. Psalm 34:18.

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 Basic Ways to Prevent a Binge

When Not All Foods Fit

I get asked this question a lot. “How can I stop binge eating?” Bingeing, eating excessive amounts of food in a short amount of time while feeling a loss of control, is scary. It can feel shameful, humiliating, and you may feel completely powerless to stop. The good news is that you can develop a more normalized experience with eating. It is possible. But it is also difficult and it takes time and effort. This article will not cure you of bingeing, but it might provide you with some additional tools to add to your tool kit for conquering binge eating.

So let’s look at 5 ways to prevent a binge before it happens:

1. Meet Your Basic Needs (Think of H.A.L.T.)

First and foremost, it is so important to make sure your basic needs are met.

Are you hungry? Did you eat enough throughout the day?…

View original post 898 more words

King of My Heart

love-2410602_960_720

Y’all, sometimes my heart doesn’t feel right. Sometimes I can pinpoint why, and other times something just feels off. My heart longs for immediate gratification, complete understanding, and order + control. My heart isn’t tame; it loves fiercely and hurts deeply (both of which can get me in trouble at times). I can go from sorrowful to full of joy (and vice versa) within just a few minutes. My heart is unpredictable & has no filter. Above all, my heart reminds me that I am constantly in need of saving, in need of comfort, and in need of Jesus. 

Our hearts are so deceiving. Maybe other people aren’t as much of an emotional rollercoaster as I am. But we all can’t deny that our hearts are deceptive and broken. The prophet Jeremiah puts it like this: “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?”¹

Our hearts are in need of saving, and that’s where Jesus comes in. Ezekiel prophesied that God would one day restore and transform our hearts: “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.”²

A new heart.

A new spirit.

Not just a better one, but a completely new one. 

This heart is a precious gift from our father and we are to protect it as such. Proverbs 4:23 reminds us to guard our heart, because everything that we do flows from it.

God didn’t include this in his sacred truth for no reason. He reminded us to guard our hearts because he was sure that they would come under attack. He knew that a heart built on his truth would often be playing tug-of-war with our emotional responses and aches & pains of this world. He knew that we would be tempted by the enticing and evil desires of this world. He knew that the enemy would try to tamper and discourage a heart that has been redeemed by the blood of Jesus.

The song King of My Heart, written by Sarah McMillan, hits the nail on the head when it comes to this topic. In these lyrics, you will see a plead to God, that He would reign in the hearts of those he is king over, the hearts that rightfully belong to him.

But there is this thing called sin, that we will all be fighting against until the day that we see Jesus face to face. The good thing is that if you are a follower of Jesus, God is fighting for you not against you. Nothing can compare to our king. He knows how hard it is. He isn’t surprised with it, which is why sent Jesus to die on the cross to save us from his wrath. Yet, in our limited thinking and processing, we so often try to “fix” or satisfy our hearts with things other than our king, which always leaves us worse off than before. We can’t outrun or escape these things on our own. So what do we do? Run to our king. When I listen to “King of My Heart”  it reminds me that the answer is Jesus.

“Let the King of my heart
Be the mountain where I run
The fountain I drink from
Oh, He is my song
Let the King of my heart
Be the shadow where I hide
The ransom for my life
Oh, He is my song

Let the King of my heart
Be the wind inside my sails
The anchor in the waves
Oh, He is my song
Let the King of my heart
Be the fire inside my veins
The echo of my days
Ohh! He is my song.³

Jesus, be the mountain we run to. When we want to run away, may we run to you, not another relationship, dead-end path, or road that is outside of your will. We don’t want to chase anything short of your glory. We acknowledge that you are the mountain in which we will flee to in the last days. You are highly exhaulted lord; help us to fix our eyes on you.

Jesus, be the fountain we drink from. When we are unsatisfied and thirsty, be our living water. Satisfy our souls with your presence and your word. We are yearning for our hearts to be satisfied, and we often fill them with everything but you. Forgive us Lord and be our satisfaction. Be our everything. Quench our thirst with the power of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus, be our song, our battle cry of faith. We worship you and proclaim your goodness. We ask that you would help us process the things in our hearts. In sickness + health, sorrow + joy, death + life, and discontentment + satisfaction, may your glory shine through us. May we never stop praising you and proclaiming the good news that sets all people free.

Jesus, be the shadow where we hide, the rest that we desperately need. Comfort us when our physical and emotional limits are tested by the weight of this world. Reassure us that we will be okay. Remind us of our safety in you. Be our protector; our safe place in the scorching dessert. Help us to rest from the emotions + feelings that so easily drain + discourage us. When we want to curl up in a ball and hide from all of our responsibilities, relationships, and everyday realities, be the shadow in which we hide. May our time alone spent with you strengthen us and give us everything we need to walk in the scorching sun.

Jesus, be the ransom for our lives. May we understand our position before you: saved by grace & so deeply loved. Help us to rest in the work that has already been finished on the cross. Convict us when we try to perform for you with good works. We thank you for delivering us from death & the grave. May we not take our salvation for granted; may our lips never stop spreading the truth of the gospel.

Jesus, be the wind inside our sails. Help us to not become weary in doing good. Encourage us when we are down. Convict us when we are heading in the wrong direction. Holy Spirit be our internal compass, our teacher and our guide. Don’t allow us to stray from you.

Jesus, be the anchor in our waves. Be our strong tower when our world seems to be falling apart. Be the rock that we stand on. Hold us up so that we don’t get knocked down by the waves that are intended to harm us. Be our stability in situations that are unpredictable and out of our control. Level out our emotions when they are about to burst at the seems. When we feel like we are going to drown in the depths of the sea lead us to what is higher and greater than any circumstance. Lead us to you. Remind us of our blessed assurance, that we are marked with a seal and have a forever home in heaven. Jesus if its in your will, settle the waves + calm the storm. If not, sustain us until the day we see you face to face.

Jesus, be the echo of our days. May our lives be worth nothing to us unless we use it to tell others about the good news of the gospel. Be our meaning and purpose. Be our fire. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

Jesus, be the king of our hearts.

REFERENCES:
1. Jeremiah 17:9

2. Ezekiel 36:26

3. “King of My Heart” By Sarah + John McMillan

 

 

Will Recovery Ever Get Easier?

Recovering from an eating disorder is one of the most difficult things in the world.

If you have lived with an eating disorder (or even disordered eating patterns), your body has been through trauma-physically, psychologically, socially, and spiritually.

As most of you know, there is so much more to recovery than food, body image, and a scale.

Although eating disorders are first and foremost psychological disorders, eating disorders are very hard on the body, whether you struggle with anorexia, bulimia, binge-eating disorder, or otherwise specified feeding & eating disorder (OSFED).

Some of you, like me, have become physically ill because of your eating disorder, plagued by amenorrhea, an assortment of GI related issues, metabolic shifts, insomnia, weakened hunger and fullness cues, weight fluctuations, quick fatigue, compromised immunity, anxiety attacks, and an overall decrease in your quality of life.

Others experience fainting, refeeding syndrome, tooth decay, osteoporosis, dehydration, infertility, electrolyte imbalances, high blood pressure, peptic ulcers, pancreatitis, kidney failure, and even death.

Even still, there are those who don’t seem to have any physical consequences…yet. Don’t be mistaken, if you follow disordered eating patterns for a period of time your body will start to send you physiological signals indicating that something is wrong.

The only form of medicine that can help us escape this form of bondage is food. In recovery, food is your medicine, whether that be a grilled turkey burger or a slice of chocolate cake. Consistent, adequate nourishment is the only way to correct some of the things I talked about above.

If only it was as simple as “just eat.”

Many of you probably experience early satiety (premature fullness) because your bodies aren’t used to having a normal amount of food in them at one time. You are forced to eat when you aren’t hungry, or at least you think you’re aren’t. Not to be gross, but constipation, diarrhea, gas, bloating, and indigestion are all very real parts of getting back on a consistent food schedule. What makes it all worse is that there is no timeline as to how long it will take to actually feel better again. If you regularly restriction, binging, & purging tendencies, it will take even longer. Psychologically, many people who develop an eating disorder also struggle with a body image component, whether or not that was present when the disordered eating patterns first began. Body dysmorphia, the scale, fear of gaining weight, & societal pressures and emphasis on appearance can also be big barriers.

If all of this weren’t enough to make you quit, you also have to start dealing with the root of it all: the psychological and emotional issues that have been pushed aside and suppressed by your eating disorder. The physical trauma that your body has been through didn’t happen overnight; likewise, the psychological, emotional, and spiritual trauma also won’t heal overnight.

Learning how to acknowledge, observe (without judgement), interpret, and coop with unwanted emotions or feelings is a very difficult thing to do. Therapy is exhausting and pricey (as is every aspect of recovery), but the psychological and emotional healing is what will keep you practicing good recovery for a lifetime; food alone isn’t enough.

It’s hard.

It’s messy.

It’s slow.

It’s frustrating.

It’s lonely.

It’s misunderstood.

Coming from someone who has walked through it all: It will feel worse before it feels better, but it does get easier, it does get better, & if you stick with it, you will recover.

It’s painful…oh so painful, but it’s worth it. A part of the recovery process is learning to let go of control and trusting your friends, family, and recovery team to lean on during this really difficult process.

Every bite, meal, & moment you choose to practice good recovery is a step towards an easier tomorrow.

It’s becomes easier to eat (both physically and emotionally).

Your body will start to rejoice with every ounce of food that is used to restore your body and bring it back to life.

You will be able to eat a “normal” amount of food again.

Your metabolism and abnormal lab values will start moving back into place.

Your weight will stabilize and stay in the range that God designed for it to be.

You will be able to go out to eat with friends without looking up the menu beforehand and calculating your calorie intake for the day.

You will be able to say “yes” to the ice-cream served at a family gathering and “no” to the small voice that encourages you to binge on it after a long day.

 You will survive.

 You will be restored.

 You will be recovered.

Fully.

 Free from bondage.

 Free to live.

 Keep fighting friends, coming from someone who has won many battles with ED, it’s worth it.

f57c3d8bce0ae2e39532d2502014bc4e

Pizza, Cookies, & Kiwi: A glimpse into intuitive eating

pexels-photo-238306

When I first began recovery I couldn’t eat a meal without thinking about, calculating, & analyzing was in it.

How many calories?

Grams of Fat?

Carbs?

Protein?

Sodium?

Fiber?

Is this a “balanced” plate, with grains, fruit, veggies, & protein?

Is there too much fat?

Will this meal make me fat? 

My eating disorder didn’t allow me to eat freely or to listen to my body. My meals were determined by anything and everything but my own hunger signals. It got to the point where my hunger and fullness signals began to feel the same. I could eat one bite of a meal and feel “full”. In contrast, I could eat a hearty and sufficient meal with dessert and feel “hungry” a few minutes later. My metabolism was all messed up and I could no longer “just eat” for myself.

I started off with a meal plan that required me to meet “minimums” each day. I had to eat a certain number of complex carbs, proteins, fats, and “additional foods for enjoyment.”

The list terrified me. The thought of eating an entire bagel with strawberry jelly for “enjoyment” was frightening.

But I wanted to get better, so I ate.

With each meal my body began to heal & get stronger.

At first it hurt, a lot. Physically, psychologically, and emotionally.

But I knew I had to follow my meal plan and trust my recovery team before I could begin eating intuitively.

Intuitive eating is based on the premise that becoming more attuned to the body’s natural hunger signals is a more effective way to attain a healthy weight, rather than keeping track of the amounts of energy and fats in foods.

In theory, it sounds great, but for someone who has struggled with disordered eating patterns, it can be very difficult to move into this new concept.

It was only after months of hard work and practicing “good” (not perfect) recovery that I could start moving away from my meal plan and towards intuitive eating.

Intuitive, normal eating is imperfect, & that’s the beauty of it. My dietitian often refers to it as “structured chaos”.

Intuitive eating is going to a restaurant and ordering what you really want, whether that be the southwest chicken salad or the cheeseburger with french fries. No foods are bad and nothing is off limits!

Intuitive eating is eating what makes your body feel good (not uncomfortably full, but satisfied enough to sustain you until the next meal or snack time).

Intuitive eating is having a diet that is full of a variety of foods, from fruits and vegetables to steak and an ice cream cone.

Intuitive eating is based off of what your body needs physically, not emotionally.

Intuitive eating looks at food for what it is: just food.

Intuitive eating has no rules or restrictions.

Intuitive eating looks different for everyone.

Last night for dinner I had a few slices of Herb Chicken Mediterranean Pizza from Papa Murphy’s (highly recommend), 2 kiwis, & some almond milk and chips ahoy cookies for dessert.

Last summer I never would have imagined that I would be in a place where I felt comfortable eating a meal that seems like such an odd combination.

I never imagined eating pizza without salad.

I never imagined eating cookies without calculating the number of calories in each of them.

I never imagined a day where I could accept my body for how God made it, & eat food that would satisfy me nutritionally, physically, and psychologically.

I never imagined that I could make peace with food.

I never imagined that I could live in so much freedom.

But I do.

It isn’t perfect. I still have to fight off unhealthy thoughts and be intentional throughout the day. But I am in a place that I never in a million years thought I could be in.

You too can be in this place, whether you have struggled with disordered eating or are simply tired of dieting.

No more calorie counting.

No more food analyzing.

No more rules and restrictions.

Food is just food…it’s meant to give our bodies energy to live our lives and do what we love. When we understand this, it becomes easier to approach meals in the mindset of nourishing our bodies, rather than restricting or overindulging.

*If you are interested in beginning a journey towards intuitive eating, is best to work with a dietitian who understands and supports intuitive eating, rather than calorie counting and weight loss.

**If you struggle with an eating disorder/disordered eating patterns, you may not be able to read hunger/satiety cues very well. Individuals with disordered eating patterns require consistent nourishment without compensatory behaviors before he or she may be able to move into intuitive eating. Intuitive eating can only happen after physical + psychological stability, weight restoration, and cessation of restricting, binging, & purging behaviors. For this type of nutrition therapy, it is best to work with a registered dietitian who specializes in treating eating disorders. They will help you move into this place of healing and freedom.

Jesus, how long?

pexels-photo-70298

“How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? 

How long will you hide your face from me?

How long must I wrestle with my thoughts, and day after day have sorrow in my heart?

How long will my enemy triumph over me?

Look on me and answer, Lord my God.

Give light to my eyes or I will sleep in death,

and my enemy will say, ‘I have overcome him.’

But I trust in your unfailing love, my heart rejoices in your salvation.

I will sing the Lord’s praise, for he has been good to me.”

-Psalm 13

Here we find David, a man after God’s own heart, crying out to for deliverance, freedom, and redemption, running to Jesus with his heart as it is; he didn’t try to cover up his thoughts or feelings. He let God have a piece of his mind and heart. 

He didn’t understand. 

He needed comfort. 

He needed reassurance. 

He needed to hear. 

He needed to see. 

He needed to feel. 

He needed to know that God hadn’t forgotten him. 

He needed to know that God wouldn’t hide his face from him. 

He needed to know that he would not always have to wrestle with unwanted thoughts. 

He needed to know that one day there would no longer be sorrow in his heart. 

He needed the eyes of his heart to be enlightened. 

He needed to know how long, how long it would be until he could make some sense of the broken pieces in his life. 

The worst part? 

God seemed to be silent– at least in that moment. 

Although David knew the Lord and loved him,

He felt forgotten.

He felt abandoned.

He felt hopeless.

He felt defeated.

David is desperate for relief; from what he needs relief we are not exactly sure.

It is safe for us to assume that he is agonizing over a few things: 

  • Abandonment v.1
  • Wresting with his sin v.2
  • Lack of Joy in his heart v.3
  • Lack of victory over his enemies v.3

Sound familiar?

How long, Jesus?

How long will I have to fight off lies from the enemy?

How long will my tears be my food day and night?

How long will my prayers go unanswered?

How long will I have to fight off anxiety?

How long will I be uncomfortable in my body?

How long will I feel like this?

How long will I wrestle with unhealthy thoughts?

How long will it take to break bad habits?

How long until I am a little less broken?

How long until I am free?

How long until my heart begins to believe what my mind is certain of?

How long until you will act on my behalf, & do what only you can do?

How long will I struggle with the temptation to turn back to my eating disorder?

How long will I be in recovery? 

How long until I am healed?

How long until I am no longer broken-hearted?

How long until I am completely free?

How long until you come back?

How long, Jesus? 

How long.

This is David’s ultimate cry. This is our heart’s cry: Jesus, when will you make this all right? When is it all going to make sense? When will you return?

David doesn’t try to minimize it or diminish it. He expresses his pain. He cries out in anguish. He brings his raw and real emotions before the creator of the universe. He is simply asking with an earnest heart, and he doesn’t immediately hear back from God, & so often we don’t either. 

In the time waiting, David shifts his focus and proclaims, “But I trust in your unfailing love, my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing the Lord’s praise for he has been good to me.” v. 5-6

In other words:

Even when it hurts, I will praise you.

Even when nothing makes sense, I will trust you. 

Even when I am sorrowful, I take heart in the joy of my salvation. 

Even when I face trials, I will praise your name. 

Even when I don’t immediately hear from you, I will choose to believe in your unfailing love. 

David didn’t know how long, & neither do we. 

But God didn’t abandoned David, & he doesn’t abandoned us. 

In his own timing, wisdom, understanding, & sovereign hand, God delivered David from his enemies. He forgave his sins. He brought forth joy in his heart. He walked in victory. 

Through his blood came the awaited messiah, our savior, redeemer, deliverer, and peace in the time waiting. 

It’s okay to ask how long. 

It’s natural. 

It’s healthy. 

It’s freeing.

Wrestling with the “how long” reminds us that this world isn’t our home. It’s a reminder of our desperate need for Jesus each day. It’s a reminder of how truly great the good news of the gospel is. The gospel that saves us from it all. Even with a broken heart, weary soul, anxious mind, and lacking ability, we can move into a place where we rejoice in our salvation and trust Jesus even when it doesn’t all make sense. We can move from “how long” to “this won’t last forever”.

We can freely say:

We trust you. 

We trust your promises.

We trust that you are good. 

We trust your ability to heal, to redeem, to show grace, to provide, to keep your promises, to be with us always, to deliver us, and to finish the good work that you have started in our lives, to make sense of our suffering; we trust in your timing & let go of the burdensome “how longs” that so often rule our minds. 

 

Fat Phobia

belly-body-calories-diet-42069-2

Today I had a conversation with one of my campers that caught me off guard:

Some of my girls was listening in on a conversation that I was having with another counselor. We began to talk about the process of becoming a RDN, otherwise known as a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. As I began to explain different career paths within my field, one of my little girls interrupted and said, “So you’re going to tell people what to eat so that they don’t get fat and chubby?!” The other girls giggled and began to talk about weight, body shape, and people they know who are “fat”.

I tried so hard….I really did…but I couldn’t hide the look of shock and disgust on my face.

Tell people what to eat so that they don’t “get fat?”

I don’t think so.

Why do my seven-year-old campers believe that the sole purpose of eating healthy is to avoid becoming fat and chubby?

Why are they more concerned with their bodies than playing in the creek with their friends?

Why do they think it’s bad to be “fat” or “chubby”?

They have been told….by their parents, friends, TV shows, the internet, and the media that fat is bad and skinny is good.

Today I wasn’t angry at my girls.

I was angry that the enemy’s lies about body image, weight, and dieting had already infiltrated their minds at such a young age.

Fat phobias are developed overtime.

Little girls are not born with an innate weight bias.

They are taught that skinny is good & fat it bad. They are conditioned to associate a skinny body with good health, wealth, love, acceptance, self-control, and happiness. On the flip side, they associate people who have a “fat” or “chubby” body with poor health, rejection, laziness, and a bad life.

Their mothers, sisters, aunts, and friends were all taught to fear fat and everything that comes along with it.

We learn to identify areas that contain what we identify as “too much fat” and do our best to hide, disguise, or change the parts of our bodies that we think need fixing.

We don’t like fat on our face, arms, or hips, & definitely not between our thighs.

Rule of thumb: Less fat is always better.

I’ve been on this earth for almost 22 years, and I am just now able to start the process of breaking free from weight bias and fat phobia.

A little over a year ago my fat phobia turned into an extreme lifestyle when I developed anorexia.

I have never been overweight.

I have never needed to lose weight for medical reasons.

I have never been hurt by my body fat.

Yet, I have always feared losing control of my body and moving into a place where I could have too much fat on my body.

I feared losing muscle.

I feared having any body fat at all.

I feared eating fat.

I feared being fat.

Why?

I too believed the lie that to be fat was to be lazy, out of control, unlovable, and even unhealthy. 

I feared fat so much that my metabolism slowed down and my heart rate began to drop exponentially. 

I feared fat so much that I avoided certain food groups entirely.

I feared fat so much that I exercised even if I was sick or if the weather was dangerous.

I feared fat more than anything, even though I didn’t truly understand why.

I feared fat so much that I pushed myself to lose as much weight as possible, to finally attain the skinny body that I never once had.

I feared fat so much that it took many, doctors visits, therapy sessions, and nutrition appointments to even begin changing the way that I viewed fat. 

It was extremely difficult, expensive, exhausting, and crippling at times.

After a few months in recovery, I began to realize that it wasn’t truly the fat that I feared, but rather, the idea of being unworthy of love and acceptance.

I had forgotten that my identity was not rooted in my weight or my body shape, but in Jesus alone.

My weight isn’t an indicator of my worth, and neither is my body fat.

To be thought about, cared for, protected, forgiven, adopted, chosen, and loved by the creator of the universe is so much greater than looking great or having a low amount of body fat.

I know these things, but there are days when I forget.

This is a reminder for myself, & the many little girls, teenagers, women, & even men who struggle with body image issues and fat phobias:

  • Our bodies need fat…it protects our organs, provides us warmth, regulates our hormones, provides us with energy, & hold together our cell membranes.
  • Eating fat doesn’t make us fat. Lipids (fancy word for fat) are essential macronutrients, meaning we need to consume them through our diet in order to reap the benefits of them. Certain fats, specifically omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids can boost brain functioning, strengthen the immune system, and lower HDL cholesterol.
  • Some people are born with more fat and some people are born with less…genetics play a big role in weight and body composition.
  • Fat isn’t an indicator of work ethic.
  • Fat isn’t an indicator of worth.
  • Fat isn’t an indicator of health.
  • Skinny isn’t an indicator of health.
  • Skinny isn’t an indicator of happiness.
  • Fat isn’t good or bad.
  • Skinny isn’t good or bad.

 

For your daughter, sister, co-worker, friend, & neighbor…for yourself, fight to believe the  that worth isn’t tied to weight. It is only when we start to believe this truth that we can start changing the way we see ourselves & others for who we are and not what we look like. It is only when we start to live confidently in the bodies that the little girls around us will too.