Anorexia and Bulimia are serious compulsive eating disorders that are life threatening. These compulsive behaviors if not properly attended can result in death. This is not to scare you but to inform you that eating disorders are quite serious. I would like to shed some light on a serious subject that many do not like to discuss. In order to reach spiritual wholeness we must be willing to look at all human behavior. Everyone has areas in which they need to grow. Some have a harder time harnessing harmful behaviors. Behavior displayed does not actually display a true indication of how someone really is. Personality is often a veneer that has developed in order to protect the real person. Personalities vastly differ on a multiplicity of levels. Behavior can actually be a plea for help. Compulsive behaviors need immediate attention.
Anorexia and Bulimia is not something that is usually openly discussed. Anorexia nervosa is a self induced starvation that results in a dramatic weight loss. Bulimia is when one binges on large amounts of food that is followed with self induced vomiting or laxative abuse. This can or may not result in weight loss. Both are extremely dangerous and harmful both mentally and physically. Food for many can bring to mind memories of pain, abuse, anger, failure, rejection and or conflict. Although women primarily develop eating disorders, there are approximately 10% of men who are also anorexic or bulimic. Eating disorders usually have their onset during adolescent or teens. They can also develop later on in life.
Anorexia and bulimia origins are nested most frequently in dysfunctional families of varying social economical status. There are currently programs designed for children as well. This should inform you of the seriousness of eating disorders Denial is often an accompanying dynamic. Anorexics usually deny their feelings. They have been taught to suppress their feelings.
Let’s look at some of the symptoms. One of the first symptoms of Anorexia is when a person is focused on how they are too fat; when it is quite obvious that is not the case. They continually shift their desirable weight down. It is not unusual for an anorexic’s hands, feet, and head appear far too big. They continually restrict food to lose dramatic amounts of weight. They often wear bulky clothes or sweaters to mask their actual body size. It is also accompanied by the over use of laxatives; and or diet pills. Low self esteem and being over perfectionistic .Maintaining rigid control and excessive exercise. Depression, deceitfulness, guilt and irritability are often present as well. Anorexics are proud of their ability to restrict and control the amount of food they do or do not consume. Voluntary starvation can lead t emaciation and sometimes death.
Let’s look at some of the symptoms for bulimia. The person is caught up in a binge-purge pattern of eating. They can consume vast amounts of food and relieve themselves by self induced vomiting, They often observe food rituals. Low self esteem and being overly perfectionistic are apparent. The person looses control once they start eating. Food actually becomes a calming agent and somewhat of a companion. One common bond in anorexia and bulimia is the person really wants relationship and the approval of others. It is highly likely that there has also been sexual abuse. It is important that you lovingly confront someone with an eating disorder. It is important that you are honest about the way they look. You must be willing to take the risk at them being upset. You should also be willing to take part in their healing. It is important that they receive the professional help they need. You too will need support during their recovery process. It is most helpful to learn more about eating disorders.
There are cases when a person is a combination of the two. This is known as bulimarexic. They vacillate between the two disorders. It can be confusing because the individual does not acknowledge there is a problem. Denial is present since they do not actually fall into either category. Weight gain or loss, digestive problems, heart problems. anemia, forgetfulness, erosion of tooth enamel, glandular functioning, hypoglycemia, and impulse control order are some of the many side effects.
How does one heal? In severe cases an inpatient treatment program is best. A person’s weight must be closely monitored. In some cases initially treating them for depression is necessary. One thing that is necessary for healing is that they come to terms with the “Truth” of how they are feeling. One must make a conscious effort to look at their life, their family system and how they have been affected. In order to become whole they must learn to look at themselves, and others differently. Eating disorders are a family affair. Restructuring of the family interactions and dynamics are crucial. Obsessive compulsive issues to food and unrelated to food need to be addressed. Anorexia can affect major organ system functioning. The family system must be changed. Creating a healthy environment of honesty, love and support will facilitate healing. Healing takes time. But putting forth the effort is worth the time. Dysfunctional dynamics have often become the norm for many. The unhealthy use of defense mechanisms, the lack of the ability to be who they are, the need to please others and the rageaholic and /or controlling family issues must be dealt with.
God wants us to be whole. Being whole does not mean being free of conflict or problems. Life will continually present challenges. Challenges brings about spiritual growth and development. God also wants us to be perfect. Godly perfection does not mean being free of flaws. Godly perfection companions are an inward peace of mind and accepting the fact that God has uniquely created you. It means learning how to embrace who you are. Who God intended you to be. It means learning how to be content in the light of His Word. Then cautiously moving forward in life discovering who you are? To be perfect in Biblical terms simply means to be complete in Him. No it does not mean you have all the answers. But it does mean having a healthy relationship with God who does.
If you or someone you know has an eating disorder. Pray for or with them. I truly believe that as long or short as the Lord has us here it is to learn. When we learn all there is to learn, if you are His child He calls you home. Learning to relate to food, people, things, problems and situations is a lifetime learning experience. But you can start today if you have not already; living life differently. You can live life preparing for eternity. This will also relieve you of much unwarranted anxiety. God knows ever single solitary thing that has happened in your life and everyone else lives. God really does know your heart. God can and will teach you how to guard your heart properly. God wants you to have that abundant life His Son died for. He wants you to enjoy and learn how to properly nourish your body both spiritually and physically. He wants you to live a balanced life. He wants you to be emotionally whole.
Yes you will continue to have sorrow, grief and disappointments. Yes, the world is getting worse. Yes, life is and will be difficult at times. Drugs, alcohol, sex, money, food and yes even hard work can be all used in an attempt to fill emptiness in your life. There must be a balance. We must learn to properly relate to life in a manner that pleases God. In the midst of this world you /we are given the opportunity to have a Comforter! You see Jesus purpose was that we have life and have it more abundantly. This does not just mean materialistically. It means in every way. It is the enemy who comes to steal, kill, and destroy……. You do not have to focus on the enemy when you know that your life is truly in the hands of the Lord. Yes, it is important that you know how he operates. You do not have to focus on what others think when you know that God’s knows the depth of your heart, He knows why you do or do not do whatever! God can free you. He only can give you the peace that surpasses the understanding of man. Start anew today! God wants to fill the void in your life that only He can fill. Most important He loves us enough that He allows us the opportunity to choose. Allow His Holy Spirit, His Comforter to comfort and abide with you 24/7. I truly believe that there is absolutely positively nothing that is too big for God to handle. Begin today and everyday by allowing the Lord His place in your life, heart and home. He can help you and teach you how to properly physically, emotionally and spiritually nourish your body, mind and soul. God is your Maker and Creator. God has promised to work “all things” not some things which means even the bad things. God has said “all things work together for good. For those who love Him. For those who are called according to His purpose” When you are walking in the Spirit there is no condemnation. You can always trust, lean, depend, stand and count on God.
DeBorrah K. Ogans is a licensed Pastoral Counselor and ordained minister. She is certified through the Sarasota Academy of Christian Counseling in Creation Therapy and holds a Master’s Degree in Biblical Clinical Counseling. She is the author of a pre-marital guide “How Do I Love Thee: Things You Need To Know Before You Say I Do”, and just released her second book "Holy Matrimony: Now That You're Married".