Hey y’all- today officially kicks off National Eating Disorders Awareness Week. This is near and dear to my heart, because back in high school I struggled with disordered eating and body image issues. Right after I started blogging, I shared this post detailing my struggle and how God brought me through it. I’m not going to rewrite my full story in this post, but I still wanted to pop in and share a few reflections and reminders in honor of this very important week.
Come As You Are
Every year, National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) chooses a theme for their Awareness Week in late February/early March. I especially love this year’s theme, “Come As You Are.” This encourages women to embrace and accept their unique self as beautiful, rather than try to fit themselves into a narrowly defined idea of what our society calls “beautiful.” (Note- eating disorders and body image issues do not discriminate based on gender, and men struggle with them as well. But since my blog audience is primarily women, I’m writing this post from the perspective of women and body image struggles.)
Although NEDA is a secular organization, as a Christian, I can’t help but think how the theme “Come As You Are” reflects how God views His children. Psalm 139, verses 13-14a are such a perfect reminder of how God has made each and every one of us exactly the way He intended:
“For you formed me in my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”
The world deems certain body shapes and sizes, hair color, eye color, skin color, etc as more desirable. But God doesn’t. He is a God of details, and gave us all unique physical features. Even identical twins have different fingerprints! And He determined our physical characteristics before we were even born, and He declares us all “fearfully and wonderfully made.”
Therefore, “come as you are,” by fueling your body with the nutrients it needs and exercising to promote health and prevent disease, not to force yourself to fit into a mold that society says is “beautiful.” The way that God made you is beautiful because He created you in His image.
Picture of the Gospel
The “Come As You Are” theme encourages women to celebrate their natural shape and size, and how they are fearfully and wonderfully made. In addition, it paints a beautiful picture of the gospel. God offers the free gift of eternal salvation through the sacrifice on the cross of His Son, Jesus, to anyone who professes faith in Him. There is nothing that you can do to earn this gift. It doesn’t matter who you are, what you look like, or what you’ve done in the past. Jesus simply wants you to “come as you are” to the foot of the cross and accept Him as your Lord and Savior.
The sermon at my church yesterday reminded us all that in Jesus, we aren’t our past sins and failures, we are His sons and daughters. You don’t have to look a certain way to earn His favor, you simply “Come As You Are” to His open and ready arms.
“For all. have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement through the shedding of his blood–to be received by faith.” -Romans 3:23-25a
Healthy Relationship with Food
Now that I’ve shared a little bit about what then NEDA Awareness Week 2019 theme “Come As You Are” means to me, I’m going to wrap things up by sharing a few pointers on how to have a healthy relationship with food. My therapist says that eating disorders are complicated because they have an addictive basis. But unlike treating a drug or alcohol addiction, you can’t abstain from eating. So instead, people like me with a history of an eating disorder have to take certain self-care measures to prevent relapse. I’ve outlined a few of these measures in this post from last year, but I’m going to share a few right here as well:
Enjoy a variety of foods.
I aim to eat healthy foods that give my body the nutrients it needs. However, I also give myself the freedom to satisfy my sweet tooth. Sweets can and should be part of a well-balanced diet.
Avoid viewing foods as good or bad.
As much as I wish I could live off sweets, I know I need to incorporate plenty of other foods that are more dense in vitamins and minerals. However, I avoid calling sweets “bad,” and a salad “good.” Both a salad and sweets can coexist as part of a healthy diet. Furthermore, if you eat a salad, do so because it tastes good, not because you feel like you have to. I’m really tired of seeing the meme floating around that says “I’m just a girl looking at a salad wishing it was a donut.”
Listen to your body’s internal cues.
This is honestly the biggest game-changer for me. The best way to maintain a healthy weight for your unique body type is to listen to your body. If you’re hungry, eat. If you’re not hungry, then don’t eat. And when you’re hungry it’s totally okay to eat something other than fruits and vegetables. Basically, don’t deny your hunger pains, but also make sure you’re not engaging in emotional eating when you aren’t hungry.
This three things are the biggest practical tips that have helped me. By God’s grace and amazing healing power, I am evidence that one with a history of disordered eating can develop a heathy relationship with food and remain in recovery for a long time.
For some encouragement about food freedom, I highly recommend following Dylan Murphy on Instagram. She describes herself as a “non-diet dietitian.”
I’m just a girl looking at a donut, glad it’s a donut because I know that any food can be part of a healthy, well-balanced diet. (Photo by Reveling Spaces)
I hope that y’all enjoyed this post and that it encouraged you to “come as you are.” Always remember that your worth is not in a number on the scale or your clothing size. You are fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of God. Before I sign off, I want to challenge you to list three things you love about yourself, exactly as you are. They can be physical or nonphysical. I will get things started- I love my hair, my spunk & feistiness, and my playful, childlike spirit
Okay, you’re next!