I’ve discussed before about being diagnosed with an eating disorder, as well as dealing with body dysmorphia (which either led to the disorder or added to it). It took me several years to actually get a diagnosis because many of the doctors I dealt with looked at my weight and said I couldn’t have one. This of course plays into the stereotype that eating disorder = skinny or malnourished, which isn’t true.
But I’d like to discuss what goes on in my mind, even after working to overcome my eating disorder and working towards a healthy diet and body image. I will fully admit that I still have a ways to go, even if I’ve for the most part overcome the issue.
Imagine you’ve been working out, eating right, and you’ve been slimming down and toning up. You’re feeling good about yourself and how you look. A friend calls you up and invites you out, so now you’re going out to eat.
Now think about what you want to eat, doesn’t matter what it is, think about it and that you’ve decided to order it.
It comes to the table, you’re smelling the food, your mouth is watering….
And then suddenly you think about how you’ve lost weight recently and eating this will make you gain it all back. Your mind leaves the thought of eating this delicious meal and begins screaming at you that if you eat even the tiniest of bites, you will balloon into this giant fat and ugly person. You see the fat dimples on your body, you feel the shame of not being skinny, of not looking like what people say you should look like.
You push those thoughts away as best you can, because this is something you REALLY want to eat, you’ve got your favorite dish in front of you, and you really REALLY want it.
But you just can’t stop thinking about how you’re going to get fat again.
You take a bite, and it tastes better than you remember it, but that taste quickly sours as you swallow that bite, your mind’s eye showing that piece of food going directly to your stomach and you can swear you feel your pants becoming tight, even though you know you’ve dropped a size and they’re loose on your hips.
You tell yourself that it’s all in your head, that you’ve lost weight, you’re looking good, and this meal isn’t even that bad for you (if at all). You just can’t shake that image though. Each bite you take makes you feel worse, the mental images getting stronger and stronger to the point that you don’t even want to finish. You try your coping techniques, you go through the steps you’ve learned while working to overcome your disorder, and it brings a small bit of peace to you.
You finish the meal, but you feel guilty. You didn’t need to finish it all, you finished it because you’re a pig, you could have easily only eaten half and saved the other half for later! Only pigs finish the whole meal! OINK OINK!
You feel the urge to go and find something to get the food out of you, but you know that your go to method would require you to eat more (specifically carrots and apples) and the thought of doing that makes you want to cry.
You make it home and you write it all down so you can tell it to your doctor, that you still need help, but as you’re doing so the voice tells you it’s pointless, because what’s the doctor going to do? Tell you to work on your coping skills more? To seek mental help perhaps? All things you’ve done and have done for years.
So what do you do? How do you cope? Do you backslide and struggle again, or keep pushing forward as best you can?
More people than we know deal with eating disorders every day, going through struggles like this, even people who are supposedly “cured” still struggle at times. The stigma of being overweight adds to the issue, especially with the common belief that eating disorder = skinny. If you are someone who is struggling, you are not alone, and there are resources and support structures out there. The hardest step though…is to reach out and say you need help.
One thought on “Eating Disorders and Body Image Issues”
Hello Michea, I just read your post, and I agree with you. Many of us in this generation worry a lot about how we look. A lot of capitalists are making huge money from our insecurities, and they are helping the spread of these issues. Photoshop, cosmetic surgeons, the media, you name it.
I believe that eating healthy, working out and using good skin products are healthy life choices that we all should make. However, we need to be aware of the fact that our value does not come from how we look, our value comes from our relationship with God. This life that we are living in is short compared to the eternal life that is to come. We gain access into the eternal life by our relationship with God, and not by how we look. Focusing on God would not eliminate all our insecurities about our bodies, but it definitely would help to shift our focus to what is truly important.
Concerning your comments that we are sometimes scared to eat certain foods because we are scared that we would gain weight back, I believe that we might be able to combat this by understanding how our body works and what food choices to make. Some foods are full of fiber, easy to digest and low in sugar content. These types of food are good choices to keep off the weight. In truth, eating healthy is not easy, especially when one grew up eating other things. However, as we continue to eat healthy things, our taste palate would change, and we would become accustomed to them.
If you wish to begin a journey with God (if you do not already have one), here are the steps that I usually recommend:
1) Find a quiet space that is free from distractions, a place where you can pray
2) Imagine that Jesus is in front of you. Tell him to come into your life, to make your heart his home, and to become your lord and personal savior. Ask for a forgiveness of past sins, and to become a new creation in him. Beware of sudden distractions when you pray, this is a trick that the devil uses to distract people from having focused prayers. You might also get the feeling that Jesus is not there or that he does not care for you, this is another trick that the devil uses to discourage people from prayers. Jesus is there with you, and he cares for you. You also do not need to be afraid of the devil, because the God that we serve is superior to the devil, and we as his followers are superior to the devil as well.
3) If you have any specific needs, tell Jesus about them. If there is something you need, ask for it in Jesus name and God would attend to your prayer. You need to understand that God usually has three answers to prayers: Yes, Yes but Wait, and No! and he has a reason for every decision. Also note that when you pray, you need to have faith that God will do it for you without doubting God’s power. Lastly, you need to put in actions when you pray, E.g. if someone wants a job, and all they do is pray and have faith without actually applying for jobs, they would not get a job. God does not work that way. God loves hard workers, if God gave blessings to those who simply prayed and had faith but are lazy at work, Christians would be the laziest people on earth. lol. God rewards hard-work, your part is to pray that he should fast-track your success, so that you receive your blessing quicker than others who are simply relying on their own strengths alone. When you get the answers to your prayers, do not forget to thank God.
4) Begin to read the bible and obey it. You can find some bibles for free online. There are also bible apps that you can use to study the bible on google play.
5) if you face trials and tribulations, sometimes these are designed to test your faith. You combat this by reaching out to God in prayer, fasting and maintaining consistency in the faith, and God will see you through all trials.
6) You can join a community of bible believing Christians, their conversations about the faith should help your spiritual growth.
7) Get a water baptism, and pray to be baptized by the holy spirit.
Remember that people’s opinions are not as important as God’s opinion. He says that we are beautiful and he loves us always. Hallelujah! We just need to live healthily, accept ourselves and put God first. Good luck and God bless you, Amen.