Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Obsession Confession

According to Dictionary.com, the word obsess means, "to dominate or preoccupy the thoughts, feelings, or desires of (a person); beset, trouble, or haunt persistently or abnormally." I have often heard people say, "Oh I am obsessed with dark chocolate mousse" or "I am obsessed with skinny vanilla lattes from [favorite coffee shop]", and I admit that I have let the word slip from my mouth in regards to food or drinks too. But I am asking myself (and all of you) today, is that okay? Should we really allow ourselves to become so concerned about something, so transfixed on something, that it captivates our minds and consumes our thoughts? How about when that something pertains to food?

I often think about 1 Corinthians 6:12-20, which reads:
"All things are lawful for me," but not all things are helpful. "All things are lawful for me," but I will not be enslaved by anything.  "Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food"--and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, "The two will become one flesh." But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body."

In the context of these passage, Paul is talking about sexual immorality and how that sin is a sin against one's own body. But he uses a phrase that could have been a popular saying at the time, when he says, "Food is for the stomach and the stomach for food".. And then he makes the point that God is going to ultimately do away with both a person's current body and stomach. He mentions that he will not be enslaved by anything--including certain foods. I think about this passage in light of sins that I commit against my own body regarding food. I know that when I over-indulge in food (which is all too easy to do) that I am sinning against my own body. Paul moves on to the point later in the passage, that the reason why we should take so seriously the sins that we commit physically (in contrast to a thought we might think) is because our body is literally a temple of the Holy Spirit! Our bodies house God. The Holy Spirit lives within us, and when we sin against our body - whether through gluttonous eating, starvation, obsession over healthy eating, or (in this context) sexual immorality - we are sinning against the "temple of the Holy Spirit".

So, as I think seriously about this plain fact, that I am a temple of the Holy Spirit - the third person of the Trinity - I need to ask myself, "Am I reverencing God in the way that I care for my body?" Do I care more about the fact that God is living inside of me and therefore take excellent care of physical frame OR do I care more about what I want (i.e. an extra helping at dinner or one more handful of chips...)?
All of these thoughts have been spawned by the fact that I love coffee. I drink coffee every morning without fail. I have started using organic sugar in my coffee instead of my normal no-calorie sweetener (Truvia) because it tastes just oh-so-good. I think about my coffee when I am getting up and how good it's going to taste when I take those first few sips. Does this sound a bit obsessive to you? It sure does to me. I am convicted of my obsession over coffee - rather my lustful desire for it. This is why I've decided to stop drinking coffee. My "coffee fast" will start on Thursday, March 1st. Why, you might ask, are you quitting drinking coffee all together? Can't I just ween myself off of it? Sure, I probably could do that, and it would probably be easier. But for me, because this has been on my heart and mind for some days now, I think that James 4:17 applies, "So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin." Honestly, I am not looking forward to cutting out coffee from my routine, but in order for me to learn self-control and pray through this issue, I am going to, by God's grace, commit to doing so.

As I take on this challenge, and pray for God's help and perseverance in this, I would ask you: is there anything in your life that you think you are 'obsessed' with, that is keeping you from glorifying God with your body? If you ask God for wisdom, He will give in abundance, if only you ask in faith!

Thanks for reading :)

Thursday, February 23, 2012


Until about 5 minutes ago, I really didn't know why Christians celebrated the season (40 days) before Easter, called Lent. I just read a great blog post by Tim Kimberely on Parchment & Pen called A Short History of Lent. In summary, Lent is supposed to a time of serious self-denial. Self denial? Denial of one's self, dying to self, fasting, and self-control are all seemingly foreign concepts to our Western culture. I can say that because I live here in the U.S. where we enjoy innumerable blessings at the tip of our fingers. From grocery stores to restaurants to coffee shops to hospitals to gas stations, the list goes on, we have our needs met at the drop of a hat. Now, please do not get me wrong, I am extremely thankful that we have access to food, healthcare, water, and gas for our vehicles, because many people around the world do not. However, I do think that this makes us an ungrateful people at times, and the concepts of fasting and self-denial are rarely understood, let alone practiced.

On Monday our church observed a day of fasting and prayer. It was difficult. It is contrary to our nature, to deny ourselves that which we are used to. I am used to eating when I am hungry. I am not used to relying on prayer to give me strength throughout my day. Even if you do not (because you may be unable to for medical reasons, etc.) fast meals, perhaps you are able to fast from other things: media, TV, Facebook, shopping, or eating out?

This morning I learned at important lesson that is just beginning to sink into my mind. Let me set the scene: Chance and I were getting ready for our day, making our lunches, getting dressed, and chatting about our evening's plans. I mentioned that I didn't think I'd have time to go to the grocery store tonight, and he asked why. I told because I couldn't fit in my run, grocery shopping, a prayer meeting, and a phone call to a friend, all in one night! He went quiet all of a sudden and we both went about our business.. I was being slowly convicted. Did Chance need me serve him by going to the store? Absolutely. Did I want to give up my precious running time in the beautiful weather? Absolutely not! One sentence of the previously mentioned blog post stuck out to me, it read, "In denying ourselves we are able to catch a glimpse of the cosmic self-denial made by the second person of the Trinity for the salvation of mankind." Wow. So, do I need to choose to serve my husband rather than myself in order to serve my God and emulate what Jesus did by perfect example? Absolutely yes. Is it difficult for my flesh to lay down my idols and sacrifice for the sake of others? Again, of course it is. But will God be honored in my doing so and my asking of Him to enable me to do so joyfully and willingly? Yes! And to Him be all the glory for His Son's example of perfect service to sinful mankind.

Will you contemplate with me how you can be like Christ in self-denial, this month? Will you pray and ask God how you put be able to give something up in order to atune your senses to Him this season? And will you rely steadfastly on the One who gave Himself, literally, for your sake?

"Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross." -Philippians 2:3-8

Lord, make us willing to be willing...

Friday, February 17, 2012

Food on Friday: Time for Minestrone Soup

I know, I know, there are a million recipe websites, foodie blogs, cookbooks, and cooking channels on TV that could give you a plethera of recipe ideas. That is why I am going to give out recipes sparingly, but this dreary and drab Friday in Dallas calls for one of my most frequented (since being married to Chance).

Mission: Minestrone Soup

Why minestrone? My husband absolutely loves this soup--the second time around. You see I made this recipe straight out of a cookbook (and have since tweaked it) however, I did not use one very important ingredient, and the result was a very, very bland combination of some water and cooked vegetables. Needless to say: yuck!

However, when I actually used the special ingredient that the original recipe said was OPTIONAL (ugh!) the soup was an instant hit. Can you guess the ingredient? Drumroll please... BACON!

What to use:
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
About 1 lb. of hickory smoked bacon (cut into inch pieces)
1/2 c. or less chopped italian parsley
2 tbsp. minced garlic - by far my most used ingredient in all dishes in the Sumner house
3 carrots, peeled & chopped
1 sweet onion (or yellow)
2 russet potatoes, peeled & cubed
2-3 celery stalks, leaves removed & stalks chopped
1-14.5 oz can diced tomatoes (preferably Hunt's or Muir's or the organic kind from Costco)
2-3 cups vegetable or chicken stock (or water.. but stock is better!)
2 handfuls of spinach or cabbage, chopped
2 small zucchini, diced into 1/4 in. pieces
1 cup risotto rice (Arborio rice)
1-14.5 oz can of cannellini beans (Great White Northern beans)
>>Remember that you can omit any vegetable or substitute as you deem wise

How to: Crock Pot-style
1) Prep takes a while, so chop bacon first, while letting olive oil heat up on a medium skillet on medium heat on the stove,
2) Add garlic and parsley, once heated. Let cook for about 1 min.
3) Add bacon and reduced to medium-low to avoid splashing oil, cook bacon through (about 8 minutes)
4) While you are letting the bacon cook, chop your carrots, onion, celery, potatoes, spinach, and zucchini. Add all these to the CROCK POT (or if you do not own a crock pot, use a big dutch oven and cook bacon, garlic, parsley in it first, then add the above veggies and cook for about 20 minutes with broth). Once the bacon (garlic + parsley) is done cooking, you can add it to the crock pot too.
5) Add broth, tomatoes, Arborio rice, and cannellini beans. Stir to mix together. Broth should not quite cover all the ingredients. (If using dutch oven, let it cook for about 30 minutes after this.)
6) Add salt and pepper to taste - if you want to.
7) Turn crock pot on to SIMMER for 20-24 hours (or LOW for 8-12 hours).

This soup [which is really more of a stew] will literally melt in your mouth. You will win over anyone who tastes this delectable dish -- husband, boyfriend, in-laws, neighbors, etc. Be warned: it is a very rich dish, so a little goes a long way (except I almost always have seconds!). Oh, and basil is most delicious as a garnish!

Enjoy the weekend & HAPPY PRESIDENT'S DAY (I am so ecstatic because I get the day off on Monday-wahoo)!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

"True Security"

Since marrying Chance, I have become quite fond of Christian rap/hip-hop. Especially artists like Lecrae, Trip Lee, and Shai Linne, who take gospel music to the next level with their amazing lyrics and phenomenal abilities to rhyme. On a long run the other day, I was listening to Trip Lee's album "20/20" and heard a song called "True Security". I found the lyrics of the first verse especially compelling because he discusses a girl who has decided that her identity is not found in the God who made her, but instead in what others think about her. Trip Lee unpacks the mind of a girl who is confused and seemingly hopeless, and applies the gospel as her only solution! Praise God for this!
"There is a young girl
Up in her teenage years
Up in the world thriving with teenage peers
She's popular
But there is one thing to be made clear
Low self esteem was the reason for her teenage tears
She thought she wasn't pretty enough
Or cool as the next kid
Wasn't skinny enough
So dudes she would mess with
So they would be chillin with her
And she'd feel accepted
And in the end what up she still get rejected
She couldn't really see seeking the Lord
But thought she could find peace
In an eating disorder
Everytime she loose 10
And said just 10 more
But her friends all confused
Like what you doing this for
Started to cling to this foolish disorder
Figured this out that she had it
The students ignored her

Dag I'm praying for my sister
That she would cling to the God
That can save and deliver
I'm praying for my sister
That she would cling to the God
That can save and deliver
True security is found in Christ
He will never leave you
He's down and around for life
I'm praying for my sister
That she would cling to the God
That can save and deliver
True security is found in Christ
He will never leave you
He's down and around for life"

More lyrics: http://www.lyricsmania.com/true_security_lyrics_trip_lee.html
All about Trip Lee: http://www.musictory.com/music/Trip+Lee

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Healthy Habits Part 2, Food Rules - And Food That Rules [You]

Happy Tuesday! I mentioned back on Friday, that I want to do a series called Healthy Habits that will address the issue of a "healthy eating obsession" or better known as orthorexia.  There it is - the magical medical term - coined by a man named Steven Bratman, MD in 1996 (http://www.orthorexia.com/?page_id=2). He defines it as "a description for a type of obsession with healthy food that is psychologically or even physically unhealthy." (Steven Bratman, Orthorexia Home Page, 2012). Now, many of us have heard of anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating -- but did you know that there is such a thing as an "unhealthy obsession with healthy eating?" It seems almost logically impossible. But in a culture such as ours, in which the marketing of private gyms, natural food stores, fad diets, and the ideal weight is constantly filling our heads, it is no wonder that there are those who obsess over being healthy.

Recently, I read an article on CNN.com regarding this very subject. The most common 'victims' of this non-medically recognized problem are, ironically, students of nutrition and health. Many times an interest in healthy eating can turn ugly when people begin cutting out food groups or restrict themselves from having certain "types" of food, such as processed meat or refined sugar. The problem can begin with a very positive change to one's eating habits. But, when one's eating becomes restrictive to the point of obsession, there is an obvious distinction between healthy eating and un-healthy 'healthy' eating. The article mentioned above, tells the testimonial of a girl whose orthorexia began as a result of health problems. Her doctor recommended that she cut out wheat, yeast, sugar and dairy to try and diagnosis her chronic stomach problems. When her stomach problems did not subside, she went to the extreme by cutting out all types and kinds of foods. She is quoted as saying, "I basically cut out everything from my diet. I convinced my mind that food made me sick."

Now that I have defined the problem in extreme cases, I would like to address what some of those 'symptoms' might look like in everyday life. A typical orthorexic often describes the difference [between their issue and that of an anorexic], as a lifestyle and rather than a concern about what one looks like. Unfortunately, these two things often go hand in hand. But for an orthorexic, it can be much easier to hide one's obsession because healthy eating is seen as worthy of praise, and commendable by the general public. I often hear people say to me, "Wow, how can you eat so healthy?" as if I have the super-power of eating healthy food. When one's eating habits are positively reinforced and applauded, those habits will be sustained and not deterred. We need to be careful that we are not encouraging an obsession that could be an unrecognized problem for a woman. As for the everyday symptoms, the term "food rules" applies.
"Food rules" are arbitrary rules that a person uses to enforce upon themselves a standard for their own diet. It is a way to keep yourself accountable regarding what you consume. For instance, a person may prohibit themselves from eating until 6:00pm or until they've run for 45 minutes. Their reward will be their meal. Again, this is not necessarily a bad thing, however these food rules can impose on the normality of one's life if the rules become what control you. I'll give an example of a positively used 'food rule' and then a negative one:
  • [+] I know that I struggle with eating too much dessert. I tend to think often about what dessert I am going to eat that night, and daydream about how it will taste. I know that this is not a godly pattern of thinking, so as a rule for myself I decide to not eat desserts in the house. I am imposing on myself a rule so that I will not be encouraged to sin.
  • [-] I know that eating too many desserts is not good for my overall health. Many treats contain loads of sugar and fat. Because I don't want to consume refined sugar that might have a negative effect on my body, I stay away from all desserts with refined sugar. Additionally, only organic or natural sugar is okay to eat because it doesn't contain all the chemicals that refined sugar does. I am only going to eat organic sugar. That means no birthday cake, no Starbucks if they don't have organic sugar, even if I have to party or coffee date. I don't care how much it costs, I am going to sacrifice for the sake of my health! And I am going to tell everyone around me that they too need to cut out refined sugars from their diet, even if other people disagree with me.
Do you see the difference between a positively-used rule and a negatively-used rule? We can put up standards for ourselves to deter us from sin, which is good! But we can also put up legalistic, arbitrary standards for ourselves that do nothing but harm to our thinking. Additionally, when we try to impose these standards on others, we can come off as legalistic, dogmatic, snobbish, and self-righteous. A person with orthorexic tendencies should be very caution when they see themselves limiting the types of foods they consume; one's motive should always be checked!

I hope that I've been able to give you a little hint into the mind and heart of the un-healthy healthy eater. This is a mind and heart battle for a great number of people, myself included, and for many who may not even realize it. I still need to daily surrender my eating to the Lord, and ask Him for wisdom to help me discern my motives and expectations that I put on myself. Remember, to not let your own standards and rules dictate how you eat -- let the Word of God be your guide as you put to practice its principles to "glorify God with your body."

[Remember to write me at kathryn.m.sumner@gmail.com or comment below if you have any questions, concerns, comments, or critiques! And thanks for visiting!]

Friday, February 10, 2012

Food on Friday : Healthy Habits, Part 1

A Moment Back in Time
This morning (when I began this post it was morning anyway), I want to discuss an issue that often goes under the guise of "healthy eating", but first let me share with you a story from my own life:

Fall 2008: I had just returned to college from a crazy busy summer of counseling at a Christian camp in northern Michigan (shout out to Lake Ann!). My diet, while at camp, had consisted mostly of Cliff bars and snow peas in the cafeteria with the occasional trip to the organic restaurant in Traverse City for some "real food".  Needless to say, I was looking very thin. Not unhealthily thin, just skinny, but normal for a diet consisting of mostly vegetables [or so I thought]. Here began my semester of the strangest eating habits I've ever experienced. I was a health food nut.. organic this, all-natural that. I racked up my grocery bills at Whole Foods and was mildly obsessed with peanut butter and carrots. My parents became worried that I was focusing so much on "healthy eating" while at the same time taking on an overwhelming amount of extra curriculars. Indeed, it was a recipe for disaster. If I didn't eat a salad for every meal, I would get frustrated. I started "cooking" for myself this semester, which really just consisted of throwing a bunch of vegetables in a bowl and calling it dinner. Ironically, as I became more overwhelmed and busy, I began exercising less and less. I became depressed and soon I was calling home wondering what I was doing 2,000 miles away from home. I felt isolated and like I had failed. I ate desserts and other foods in large amounts (i.e. binged) to try and cope with all of my stress. Most of all, I felt like I had lost control of my "healthy eating" which was terribly frustrating. I cried out to God on multiple occasions to help me to see what my problem was! I knew that how I was behaving wasn't normal, but I also didn't think it was very serious. 

After I went home for Christmas break, I had a breakthrough. I became vulnerable with some close friends who prayed with me regarding this season of depression and loss of control. During that break, I went on a retreat back to the summer camp I worked at and was confronted with the underlying issue: pride. I was too prideful to confess to anyone (let alone myself) that I was overly concerned about the kind of foods that I ate. When I became overwhelmed, the food I ate became an avenue of control and I used it to falsely believe that my life was under control. After that retreat, the Lord taught me that I needed to be honest & vulnerable with those around me, and willing to confess my sin and not let it fester. I went back to Florida with a new outlook and a readiness to fight this battle for real

As I began to examine my life, I noticed that this obsession of healthy eating was not just a habit but a lifestyle. Slowly, I added exercise back into my regular routine and was thankful that the Lord was giving me the desire to want to be healthy but not consumed. As God exposed my heart, He revealed to me how my relationship with food was tainted with many false ideas. I also had false ideas about my image, my body, and my relationship to exercise. I was encouraged that the Lord was showing me so many things, but I didn't really know where to go from there practically, besides attempting to "put to death the deeds of the body, so that [I] might live." (Romans 8:13) I saw the need for more specific, focused ways to battle this area of my life -- I wrote note cards with Scripture passages, had an accountability partner, and prayed often for God to help me in this area. All of these things did indeed help tremendously.

But I asked myself, "Do I have an eating disorder?". I puzzled over that question and came to the conclusion... no? So, if I didn't have an eating disorder per say, then why have I met so many other women who have dealt with the same issues? Again, I ask "Is this an ED?". Well, you will be curious to know that I have done some research on this topic of a"healthy eating obsession". I've even made a few enlightening discoveries. I would like to share those and other thoughts in a series on Healthy Habits

For now, let's ponder what Paul says in regards to eating meat sacrificed to idols (which may cause his brother in Christ to stumble): ""All things are lawful," but not all things are helpful. "All things are lawful," but not all things build up. Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor... If I partake with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of that for which I give thanks? So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." (1 Corinthians 10:23-24, 30-31)

Do you adhere to a strict healthy diet? What is your motivation behind your food choices? Have you considered that this may be more than just an eating regime, but a lifestyle for you?

Stay tuned for Healthy Habits Part 2, Food Rules - And Food That Rules [You]

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Topics to Tackle

Question: What should my next post relate to? I have a number of ideas, but I would love to get some thoughts from you! Here are some ideas:

  • Healthy food obsession
  • The Bible's references to food - in the NT
  • Rule-based eating
  • Comparison/discontentment
  • The fear of man & people-pleasing
At some point, I'll write about each of these, but for now I'd like to hear some feedback!

Thanks in advance.

Friday, February 3, 2012

An Eater's Testimony : Alyssa

Freshman year at Palm Beach Atlantic University, on the first floor of Baxter Hall I met Alyssa. A tanned beauty with a sweet spirit and sarcastic sense of humor, we began to get to know each other toward the end of the spring semester. When we returned to school after the summer, Alyssa and I struck up a closer friendship. We quickly realized that our bond was deepened by a mutual struggle: food. We'd both had our struggles, and I as was in the midst of one of the hardest, the Lord placed Alyssa in my life as an accountability partner, encourager, and sister. I am ever so thankful for her.

And I am thankful that she has decided to share her story with all of you:

"Where to start with the journey of disordered eating/eating disorder (something that used to be a big distinction in my mind)? Well, I was born, and I ate. And from then on it was downhill. Ok, not really. It wasn’t until I was 8. It was then that I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, and now in hindsight, I can trace the eating issues to that singular event that had far reaching consequences. It was a major ordeal—falling into a coma, having severe ketoacidosis, hallucinating—until I was taken to the ER with a blood sugar of 875 (120 is normal). And then life was different, counting carbs, being stereotyped as never being allowed to have sugar, eating on a schedule. On the one hand I became really comfortable with measuring spoons and nutrition labels. I also craved the things I couldn’t have and so my family had to hide candy and sweets from me. And by the 4th grade I was overweight, which escalated throughout my high school years. I remember my first diet in the 5th grade, going to Weight Watchers with my mom in 7th, then all of a sudden not caring at all and eating whatever I wanted and doing huge amounts of insulin to cover it. The battle was up and down-always wanting to be thin like my friends and trying to eat right, then “cheating” and eating on the sly huge amounts of whatever I wasn’t supposed to be having. On top of that, I am not athletically gifted and so was only moderately active. 15 minutes on the elliptical counted as a workout and a life goal was to be able to run a mile. By the time I went to college, I was maintaining a weight by eating decently, but not wonderfully, and taking long walks every day.
Then I went to school in Florida. Where everyone wears a bikini, or runs, or is just beautiful and tan without much effort. I haphazardly began running (I was too embarrassed to stop after a ½ mile when the whole basketball team walked in the gym), at big salads for lunch and dinner, and little else in between cafeteria meals.  And magically, I started losing weight, without a concerted effort or trying. So I kept doing what I was doing and the weight just melted and I kept having to buy new jeans. Shopping became fun for the first time ever and I was getting rave reviews on my new body when I traveled home for breaks.  I made exercise science my minor and took nutrition where we had to document every single thing we ate for 2 months. I bought a 2 piece (my mother hates “bikinis”).
And then I took a quiz online about “the eating disorder next door” and feared something was wrong with me. My parents found out and sent me to counseling, to which I balked because I felt like that made me crazy or mentally unstable or like I was going to be sent to some ranch in the desert to eat more food. That round of counseling didn’t do much, even though I pretended like the issue was over. I went back to Florida and even though I was still very small, I oscillated between what I now recognize as starvation mode and bingeing. By this point I realized I had disordered eating-I didn’t have a healthy relationship with food. KT (Kathryn) and I made notecards and prayed together, and that accountability was meaningful. But it didn’t solve the problem. I was addressing the issues on the surface, but not really attacking them at the core of my heart.
I transferred back home to finish college and experienced the cold of winter for an extended period of time. I also went on birth control because my dramatic weight loss (50ish pounds) and ramped up running (6-7 miles, 6 days a week) took away my “woman-ness.” And I indulged and gained weight. Not a ton, about 10-15 pounds. And I hated my body, hated how I felt, hated that my cute skinny clothes didn’t fit anymore. And I turned to the last resort I knew to try and quickly eliminate the fatness I felt: bulimia. I made myself throw up and took  multiple laxatives a day. It didn’t work. I went home for the summer and stopped the bulimia and lost a little weight, but it was a miserable summer. That fall I fell into it again, hard. I graduated and moved to Dallas where I lived alone with a 75 year old (2nd) cousin. I was isolated, had no direction, and had no activities or friends, unlike school where I was busy and lived with 9 wonderful gals. And the bulimia became worse and I became obsessed with weighing myself. I ate like a bird during the day and then had massive binges at night, ending in a raw throat and disgruntled intestines from the vomiting.
The first time I went home was for Easter, and I finally told someone: my brother, to try and sustain some sort of accountability. And then I had a huge binge and threw up and told everyone it was because my stomach didn’t handle the chocolate. And then I balled my eyes out into my brother’s shoulder, and for the first time somebody made me talk about what I was thinking and feeling. I told some close girlfriends who knew of previous struggles and began the long road to recovery. From then it was a small handful of times that I threw up again until the Lord finally released me into freedom. The story of that specific moment is a beautiful one, but I’ll save it for another dayJ
That is just the long chronology of how I got to where I am now…I still pour over my notecards daily, I seek to expose the struggle in me and share Truth, because Satan wants nothing more than for it to be my solitary struggle. And for far too long it was, but I’ve come to a place where there is freedom in speaking out and being vulnerable. I do all those things because it is still a struggle. I’ve been graciously released from the bulimia, but food still holds an unhealthy allure to my mind and heart that I constantly battle. " (written exclusively by Alyssa Peiser for "Thoughts on Etcetera") 
Thank you so much friend for being vulnerable with us all. And I hope that you all can be edified and encouraged to know that there are other ladies out there who are in the battle too.


Thursday, February 2, 2012

"Disordered Eating"

Last semester I started receiving a certain running magazine (for free!) in the mail. I didn't want to get charged so I called to cancel the complimentary subscription. I got charged anyways, and thought that the sub had really been cancelled this time - until a new issue showed up at our new address. Well, that's no coincidence, because I stumbled across this intriguing article that was headlined on the front cover. I have written before about the struggles that athletes have with obsessive exercise and diet control and for the first time I read an article in a secular magazine that addressed the very same issue.
The Golden Rules of Weight Loss
The article begins with the author's description of his relationship to his running when he was deciding that he needed to lose weight. He talks about the elation he felt when he weighed himself after a run to find that the numbers on the scale had dropped. He started cutting out certain foods--like those high in fat or with a lot of sugar, so that he could slim down. Now as I read the article, I began recognizing these 'symptoms' as behaviors that I have often experienced. Then the article labeled this type of behavior/thinking as "disordered eating". I have known for some time now that I have struggles with the strict control of my diet, over-exercising, and setting up arbitrary self-rules in regards to food/exercise (i.e. "If I run 5 miles hard, only then can I eat that frozen yogurt"). But I have also never really thought that I had an actual "ED". According to some university professors and nutritionists, I may not have an eating disorder, but I have certainly struggled with "disordered eating".

I was encouraged that this borderline disorder behavioral issue is being addressed in a serious way -- and more so because it can become a lifestyle for many. When you are constantly trying to control the scale by calculating each calorie consumed and each extra mile taken, it becomes overwhelming and certainly not normal. Disordered eating is a problem for men and women, ages 18 to 45 (and probably beyond that). What can begin as a desire to lose a few inches can become the normal pattern of life -- and it can be enslaving.

The sad part is that many, many people probably fail to recognize their 'obsession' as just that. When you hear a compliment given to you like, "Oh you're so thin.. you look great" - what does that make you want to do? Eat less, run more? Keep doing what you're doing right? Your answer is likely 'yes'. When we concentrate on finding our affirmation in what people tell us about external appearance, we tend me to become less concerned about the abnormality of certain behaviors. I know this, because I have struggled with this for years. However there is a solution.

1) Recognition: first you must come to grips with the reality that your obsession about what you eat, how much you exercise, and/or the way that you like is really not okay. You have to admit that this is problem.. and not only a problem, but that this type of behavior and thinking dishonors the God who made you in His image.

2) Confession: this can be two-fold. Confession involves telling another person about your struggle candidly and honestly and confession involves telling God your struggle and that you know it is offensive to Him. This may seem difficult, especially at first, you have to admit that you are in the wrong, that you need God to change your perspective, but [from firsthand experience] this step will cause you to enjoy great freedom!

3) Renewal: a change of mind/behavior. In order to know how we are to live, we must take ourselves to the truth. What lies do you think that you are believing in regards to the way that you look? Are you focusing more on the numbers on the scale or honoring the Lord by keeping your body healthy? Why do you want to control the way you eat -- does eating healthy make you better than someone else? We need to measure our thinking up against the Word of God and find out in what ways we are erring. Only when we have right beliefs about our bodies, our image, and our Lord, will we be able to have the right behaviors. So listen to yourself the next time you step on the scale or fix that 200-calorie meal or push yourself one more mile -- how is this honoring to the God who created me in His image?

We too often derive these false ideas from the images that the world portrays of the 'perfect body', the 'perfect athlete', the 'ideal weight'. I think that Romans 12:2 speaks perfectly to this issue, "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect."

If you are at all struggling with any of these issues or think that you may have a tendency toward "disordered eating", please feel free to contact me at kathryn.m.sumner@gmail.com . I would love to hear your heart.

Here is the link to the previously mentioned article : http://www.runnersworld.com/article/0,7120,s6-242-304--14203-0,00.html