This week is National Eating Disorder Awareness Week~
“According to the National Eating Disorder Association, 75 percent of American women (10 million) battle an eating disorder. One in 200 struggles with anorexia nervosa; three in 100 battle bulimia…Time magazine says 80 percent have been on a diet by the time they’ve reached fourth grade.” (from the book Chasing Silhouettes, page 18)
My heart is burdened. Would you please join me in praying for those who struggle with an eating disorder? Would you join me in praying for the families, counselors, friends, doctors, and pastors who love them and who want to help? Fourth grade… 10 million women… we need to pray.
Two years ago I published a Bible study for young women who struggle with eating disorders and self-image issues. What follows are questions I am frequently asked about the study, and some insight and encouragement for those with a loved one who struggles in this way.
Would you pray that God would continue to place this study in the hands of those who need it? I sincerely thank you for your prayers and support- to God be the glory!
Question: What prompted you to write “Images of His Beauty”?
I knew she was nervous, so I held her hands, and we prayed. I prayed that God would fill her with courage.
I assumed that she was the only one who struggled in this way.
By the time this young woman finished speaking to a sanctuary of teen girls about her eating disorder, tears were falling throughout the room. The response from her peers put my heart in a tail spin.
Prior to this, I was naïve to believe that only non-Christians struggled with their eating. Now I know that this is not true. Young Christian women can and do suffer from eating disorders.
In the years that followed, other students sought help for some form of anorexia or bulimia. I listened to their stories, and I saw their tears. I could relate to what they were saying since I was a ballerina for many years, causing me to struggle with disordered eating behaviors for a season.
These students received additional support and help from a Christian counselor at our church. As the months passed, most of the girls expressed their need for further support as they continued to overcome and recover from their eating disorder.
As I prayed about how I could minister to them, God placed Images of His Beauty on my heart. In the months that followed, I collaborated with the same Christian counselor throughout the writing process. What resulted was a 10 week Bible study that focuses on a young woman’s: true identity, ability to overcome and heal through Jesus Christ, and unique God-given beauty.
Though the study was created to be utilized in a support group setting, it has been revised so that those who wish to go through the study on an individual basis may do so. Chapters include a theme/memory verse, study/discussion questions, and practical spiritual “tools.” The study also comes with journaling pages and a facilitator guide for church leaders or Christian Counselors/Therapists to use in a support group setting.
Images of His Beauty is available for purchase on Amazon.com.
Question: What do you want readers to glean most from your book?
There are countless resources that focus on eating disorders and how to treat them. Young women with eating disorders realize they are struggling and harming themselves. What they need is a resource to point them back to their Creator. They need to fill their mind with God’s Truth while receiving treatment and help.
I want young women to grasp that they are not an eating disorder– they are a child of God, forgiven and loved. I want them to embrace the truths of the Bible that teach that:
- God sees their pain, and that He loves them.
- God gives them true beauty, purpose, and worth simply because they are His daughters.
- God desires for them to use their beauty to make a difference in the world around them.
Question: I’ve got daughters, so I’d love to know some signs to watch for that could indicate if my daughter is struggling with her eating:
Please note that the following list is only partial; you may reference the links below for further information:
- Consistent trips to the bathroom after meal times
- Compulsive desire to exercise
- Hoarding large amounts of food
- Increased use of laxatives or diet pills
- Preoccupation with food and calories
- Intense fear of gaining weight
- Mood swings, depression, fatigue
See also: http://www.anred.com/warn.html;
Please remember that we all have seasons where we dislike our body, or will tell others we feel fat, or have days where we are not that hungry. If you sense a change in your daughter’s behavior, try not to panic. Continue to observe her, be involved in her life, and keep the lines of communication between you open and grace based.
However, if your mommy intuition bells are ringing, and you notice that she is exhibiting multiple warning signs mentioned above, then seek the help of your doctor and a Christian Counselor.
If I may add this in love:
Fellow moms, I cannot stress this enough: your daughters will notice how YOU see yourself. Are you consumed with talking about your body, over exercising, counting calories etc.? Let’s ask God to help us remember that we are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14), and to help us care for our bodies in a way that glorifies Him.
Question: If you could give one bit of advice to women who know someone struggling with an eating disorder, what would it be?
In the book of Acts, we are introduced to the Apostle Paul’s companion, Barnabus. The name Barnabus means: son of encouragement. My one bit of advice is to be a Barnabus. Encourage your friend or family member by praying, listening, and walking with them. Being faithful, and consistently loving and believing in them as they go through treatment is a HUGE blessing to those who struggle.
Additional Resources: If you are actively engaging in eating disorder behaviors, I encourage you to seek help and support from a Christian Counselor or treatment facility. Here are some additional resources that may be able to help you:
National Eating Disorders Association www.nationaleatingdisorders.org
National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, Inc. www.anad.org
Focus on the Family www.focusonthefamily.com
His Mansion Ministries www.hismansion.com