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Anorexia Motherhood

5 Things I Need My Son To Know About My Eating Disorder

October 25, 2016

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Son, I need you to know something. It is something I am not proud of, but it is a part of who I am, and it is important. The chances are, you will encounter it in your life on a personal level. So I need you to know this—there was a time when I hurt my body. I chose to not eat enough food, because I was confused about what is important. I did not understand what it meant to be pretty, and so I chased after a fake kind of pretty.

I wanted people to think that I was strong and beautiful, but I did not understand what it really meant to be strong and beautiful. I thought that by not eating, I could be these things. I was wrong. God is good and kind, and He helped me to heal, and to learn what true beauty and strength look like.

I am telling you this because the chances are that in your life, a woman you know will struggle with eating just like I did. And I want you to know a few very important things, when that time comes.

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 1.   Pay Attention When Your Heart Tells You She May Be In Danger

Your heart as a way of telling you when something is not right. We call these “Red Flags”. They are that small feeling that something is wrong. If you have a girl in your life that you care about and spend a lot of time with, you will see these red flags when they come. 

She might start acting funny when it comes time to eat. She might make many comments about wanting to lose weight, or be prettier. She might talk badly about how she looks. She might push her food around her plate, or make excuses why she’s not eating. She may say things like, “Oh, I ate before I came” every time you hang out. She may seem sad and distracted. My Love, do not ignore these things when they sit heavy on your heart, telling you something is wrong. You are probably right.

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2.    Do Not Talk To Her About It

This may sound strange. Usually when someone is hurting or upset, I tell you that we should help them. But son, when it comes to eating disorders, it is not your place to fix this. In fact, because you are a boy, if you say anything about it to her, it might make matters worse. It is hard for me to explain, but I have been in her shoes. So I know that if you say anything, even if it is to help, it might cause her to skip another meal. Because deep down inside, she wanted you to notice.

3.  Instead, Ask An Older Woman To Help

Although you should not talk with your friend about your worries, you are not powerless. When you see those red flags, there is something you can do, and it could make all of the difference. The chances are that this girl in your life has an older woman that she looks up to. Whether it is a teacher, a youth leader, an aunt, or another woman in her life that she respects—this is the woman you can talk to about your red flags. This woman is in a place to talk to your friend, and get her the help that she needs. This is your most important job in helping your friend.

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4.   Your Words Hold Great Power

Lately I have been teaching you the importance of being a good encourager. You know that you can tell people what they are doing well, and things you like about them, and that it will bring a smile to their face. The power of your words runs even deeper than you think. You tell me at least five times a day that you think I am pretty. My boy, those words are life-giving. Whether it is your cousin, your friend, your aunt, your Grandma, and later on your girlfriend and eventually a wife, your words can give her all of the confidence in the world.

I know you have witnessed this in how your Daddy speaks to me. His words make me feel brave and strong and beautiful. Your words can do the same. But son, the most life-giving words you can speak to a woman are the ones that tell of her inward beauty. That she is brave, that she sings well, that she writes great stories, that she is smart, that she is kind. Everything you see good within her, tell her. Because a strong sense of inner beauty is one of the greatest protections against eating disorders.

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5.  It Is Not Your Fault

Finally, my boy, I need you to know that if a girl in your life is struggling with an eating disorder, it is not your fault. These sicknesses are so very hard to understand. Before and during my sickness, I had strong godly men speaking truth into my life. I felt loved and secure in my family. Sometimes these things just happen, for many various reasons. It is not your fault. It is the same sentence I would speak to any man who was in my life at that time. 

But son, although you were not the cause of her sickness, you can be a part of her healing. By paying attention to the red flags in your heart, by taking those red flags not to her, but to an older woman that she respects, and by always encouraging the women in your life by telling them of their inner beauty. You can make a difference. 

Be brave, my boy.

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Anorexia Dieting Faith

When Fasting Fuels The Flame Of An Eating Disorder

December 8, 2014

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My Anorexia, And How It Began With a Holy Experience

 

I can hear the soft crying of my teammates around me.

We have all taken the same journey over the past six weeks. The physical journey over vast expanse of water; from Texas, to Thailand, Myanmar and Laos. Our personal journeys, however, differ greatly.

I was fifteen, and being deeply challenged in ways that would affect the rest of my life.

This particular morning we all sit in the upper room of a church in Chiang Mai, Thailand. The sun pounds down harsh outside.

We have gathered, as a team of teenagers who were strangers six weeks before, to process how this experience—the extreme physical and spiritual hunger we have witnessed—will change our lives from here on out.

Some of my teammates are speaking with our team leaders, being prayed over, sharing the commitments they’ve made for when they get home.

I write my own manifesto, as of each of us do; promises to myself and God for how I will carry out this ministry at home. I begin, “If we end our mission here at the end of the trip, we have failed.”

I go on to ink my intentions into vows. “Stay in contact with the Thai people I’ve met”. “Sleep on the floor every Thursday to remember those in poverty” “Be informed about world events” “Study missionary biographies.”

And finally, “I will fast on the fifteenth of every month, to always remember the need overseas.”

 

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A Fast To Fuel A Famine

 

I came home from that trip with a mission. I also came home from that trip with a secret. And tragically, my mission began to fuel my secret.

Secrets in their very nature fuel upon covertness; the longer it is hidden, the more power that secret gains.

One morning in Thailand, I had come down to breakfast and made myself this challenge: eat only half as much breakfast as normal. And with that seemingly innocent decision, a secret was born.

I carried that secret through customs, over an ocean, and back home. As it began to thrive and gain power, good intentions turned into cloaks. My commitment to fast on the fifteenth of every month quickly morphed from a day of thought and prayer, to an “easy” day for masking my anorexia.

 

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The Giving Up Of Good For The Pursuit Of Healing

 

Fasting is a simple act—an abstaining, usually of food, for a time. The purpose? To think clearer, and to focus on prayer.

It is a reminder for us to depend upon God alone for what we need. It’s not only a Christian practice. People of all kinds of belief practice fasting as a way to clear the mind and regain clarity and focus. It is a good and healthy practice.

That is, if you don’t have an eating disorder.

I would eventually give up my practice of fasting once a month, trading it instead for the decision to heal. It was too risky a practice; something meant to be good, but I had tarnished ugly with my sin and secret.

I still don’t fast. Although I am completely healed, and no longer struggle with any facet of an eating disorder (God is so good, seriously.). I just never took up the practice again. That’s not to say I won’t. Perhaps it’s simply because I have too many unhealthy memories of the days I fasted; tying it forever to a great mistake I made. Perhaps it’s simply because I haven’t felt the need to.

 

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The Filling Up Part

 

There is something wonderful that happens at the end of a fast: you get to eat again! The meal after a fast always holds an extra morsel of appreciation, gratitude, and enjoyment. When I broke my fast, at the end of several years battling eating disorders, and I approached that first day with certainty that God in His grace was making me whole again—my soul filled.

My healing began through the realization that I had grown hungry for much more than food. My body, my soul, my spirit–the whole of me was being starved.

My fast lasted years, and although it was murky and sinful and deadly, God somehow in His grace used it to bring clarity. However, my clarity did not come through the fast itself, it came at the end, with that first meal. With the filling up. With the making whole.

A Practice Of Breaking The Fast

 

I think this may be why my favorite meal is breakfast. For Heaven’s sake, I have waited all night long to eat! Breakfast is just that: breaking the fast.

I appreciate breakfast the most, because I know that it is in the filling, after a fast, that empowers us for a day. It fills us up with nourishment, that we may fill others up with nourishment as well.

I never miss it.

In fact, when we were leaving our house late this morning for church, none of us having eaten breakfast, I hopped in the car and my husband chuckled at me as I pulled out two hard boiled eggs and began to peel them in my lap. I cannot not eat breakfast, because a fast has to end at some point. The emptying out and abstaining helps us clear our mind, and it prepares us for the filling up.

 

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What Type Of Hungry Are You?

 

I believe that we need to ask ourselves from time to time just what our motive is for our spiritual practices. And not only for the spiritual, but anything we deem important in our life. Because motives can quickly be skewed when we fail to keep our focus on the “why”.

Maybe your fast has turned ugly, as mine did years ago. How do you need to be filled up? Is your soul weary and spirit aching from empty?

Are you hungry?

Then I dare you to examine your fasting. Whether its physical—a struggle against your own body for the ideal image in your mind. Or spiritual; a giving up of the very food we need for all life, God and His Word.

We are all hungry. We are born hungry. Awkwardly squawking out our first breaths as desperate cries for our mother’s milk. We are born hungry for more than just milk. At times we fuel the flame of that hunger by avoiding the very nourishment we need. I challenge you today, ask yourself what your body and soul are longing for, and then pursue the nourishment from that which is good; that which always satisfies.

 

Pannekoeken (Dutch Baby Pancakes)

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup butter (organic)
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 3 eggs (free-range)
  • 3/4 cups milk (organic, whole)
  • 3/4 cups flour (organic, unbleached white; or white spelt)
  • 2 slices proscuitto (or thinly-sliced ham)
  • small handful freshly-shredded parmesan cheese
  • (Try other savory toppings as well. Or make a sweet Pannekoeken with things like toasted pecans and apple sautéed in butter and sugar!)

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 425 degrees. Place a cast-iron skillet into the oven with 1/4 cup butter, just until butter is melted, then remove skillet.
  2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix together: 3 beaten eggs, salt, milk, and flour
  3. When your oven is pre-heated, pour your egg mixture into the skillet, over the melted butter
  4. Tear your proscuitto into small pieces, and arrange it, along with the cheese, over the egg mixture
  5. Bake in the oven for 15-18 minutes, until risen, bubbly, and just beginning to brown
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