Eating Disorders: Killer food.

I almost had a tear roll down my cheek when I saw her in the gym. I was a little stunned. A part of me wanted to go up to her‚ introduce myself‚ look into her eyes and say‚ “You are anorexic!” That obviously would not have been appropriate. She was so pretty in her face. Yet, her body was literally skin and bones. And the most frightening thing about it was she had no clue how unhealthy and unfeminine she really looked. She thought she looked good. In reality, she didn’t even look like a woman, or a normal person. No man in the gym would have thought she was attractive. The anorexia blinded her from seeing how she truly looked to everyone else. My heart went out to her.

Eating disorders have a stranglehold on millions of people. Each year hundreds lose their lives to eating disorders commonly called anorexia‚ bulimia, and extreme overeating, also known as gluttony. I have never struggled with an eating disorder so I don’t know what it is like. I do have friends who struggle in this area. Anorexia is when people‚ especially women‚ basically starve themselves and lose weight to the point of it being life threatening‚ just like the young woman I saw in the gym. They may count calories down to the gram. Controlling their food and body weight becomes their life. Bulimia is where a person‚ especially a woman‚ eats only to then throw it up later by sticking her fingers down her throat until she vomits. She gets a release and relief after the food is thrown up. It is common for someone to be both anorexic and bulimic at the same time. Compulsive overeating‚ gluttony‚ is where a person uses food to soothe the pain of life. Binge eaters eat whether they feel good or bad. Eating food is their life and addiction. They think about it constantly, like a heroin addict dreams of injecting the next needle. Being overweight also helps them avoid intimacy‚ as the opposite sex is not likely to be attracted to someone who is extremely overweight. They hide behind their weight because it may be too scary and overwhelming to let someone get to know them.

What are some possible causes of eating disorders? Generally speaking, emotional damage from childhood and traumatic experiences are common roots of eating disorders. Also‚ the pressure of attaining the ideal body shape that society finds appealing contributes to our obsession with body image. This adds another component to eating disorders‚ even making these disorders considered acceptable if it leads to achieving the perfect body. Statistics tell us that most, if not all, anorexic and bulimic people were sexually abused. Some will not even remember the abuse and this adds to the deep pain of being anorexic or bulimic. Abuse helps explain eating disorders somewhat because the “out of control” sexual abuse done to a child or young person was literally done to their body. Later‚ after the abuse‚ they can never allow their bodies to feel out of control again so something must be done to guarantee “literal control” of their body. Eating disorders are the ultimate way to control our bodies and avoid the emotional pain that the sexual abuse and/or emotional damage may have inflicted. Eating disorders, like all other addictive, compulsive behaviors, are an attempt to survive and cope with our past and/or present pain‚ a way of escaping the wounds in our heart.

If you are struggling with an eating disorder, I’m sure you are very tired and the feelings of confusion, guilt, and depression are heavy. Please get help! Jesus loves you! We care about you and are sorry you were hurt and are now struggling with an eating disorder. Would you consider the following steps that can be taken to get help for eating disorders?