The Many Faces of an Eating Disorder

An eating disorder is a snake in the grass.   It comes in disguise promising you the Apple of your eye, offering everything good and desirable including a picture perfect life while it is sucking the very life out of you.  You think…… it will bring me skinny, it will give me peace……..   But what it brings you is fear and obsessions; crippling panic attacks; confusion and isolation while it is drowning you in a pool of sorrow and pain.   The snake will tell you it will bring you lifelong happiness but is planning your death instead.  Its faces are many and go by the names of Bulimia, Anorexia and Binge eating disorder. 

The face of an eating disorder is not always recognized; it can raise its ugly head subtly and develop over time. Or, it can emerge as swift and as quick as a tornado taking one captive along with their loved ones in its destructive course.   So how do you know if you are looking right into the face of an eating disorder?

The following are screening tools to help guide you.

SCOFF questionnaire:

·         Do you make yourself Sick because you feel uncomfortably full?

·         Do you worry you have lost Control over how much you eat?

·         Have you recently lost more than 14 pounds in a 3 month period?

·         Do you believe yourself to be Fat when others say you are too thin?

·         Would you say that Food dominates your life?

*One point for every “yes”; a score of ≥2 indicates a likely case of anorexia nervosa or bulimia.                                    

Source: BMJ1999;319:1467   

Also of concern that could indicate signs of a potential for, or a binge eating disorder include:

·         Eating uncontrollably unable to stop regardless of the amount you eat

·         Use food to  “numb out” regularly

·         Feeling depressed, ashamed and guilty over your eating habits   

If you identify with any of these faces of eating disorders you need to reach out for help. Here are the three big first steps to face your fears and FACE OFF an Eating disorder!

 1.  Reach out, be honest and tell someone that you are hurting.  If you struggle to reach out on your own, ask help from a strong and loving person you trust most to help you connect to support. Maybe it is your parent, your spouse, your Pastor, your youth leader, teacher or school counselor that you start with. 

2.  Find the right counsel and Support. This includes professionals who are skilled in treating eating disorders so you and your family can access the strengths you have to beat it while obtaining proper treatment and direction.   Local support groups are all around and can lessen the isolation and provide hope.


3. Have hope and faith that there is life without an eating disorder and you deserve that life.      

Many times Christians have said they won’t ask for help because they fear rejection, being imperfect, or being judged that they are not exactly who or what others may think they are.  Some people are just purely afraid to give up the eating disorder face for fear they won’t survive without it.  If you feel that you should be victorious over all that ails you and that hiding behind the face of an eating disorder is the only choice for you...remember, true victory comes after the fire. 

The fire molds and grows us.  We cannot go around it, we must go through it to emerge are greatest potential.  We are all ordained by God to live joyful and fulfilling lives amidst the challenges and ups and downs we may endure in life. There is help, there is hope, there is healing and there is freedom from an eating disorder.

                         O LORD my God, I cried out to You, And You healed me.

                                                                                                (Psalms 30:2 NKJV)

~ Deborah A Russo, PsyD, Tapestry Psychotherapist and Education Outreach Associate 

 The information contained in this article is intended to provide readers with helpful information and inspiration. This article is not to be used to diagnose or treat. Consult licensed medical, and or mental health professionals for assistance.

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