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 . I would love to hear your heart.

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

1 comment:

  1. thanks for this post, girl! this is super helpful for filling in that gap between totally healthy godly thinking and having an eating disorder. I'm going to think and pray more on this for God to weight my heart!