Love is Not Always Soft (An Eating Disorder-Recovery Q & A)

For a VIDEO of this post, click here!

Hello friends and happy Monday!!

I hope you had a beautiful weekend!

Just wanted to thank you guys for sharing in the excitement with me about my upcoming speaking engagement on the 29th in Memphis! I was so touched by your support and prayers – so thank you with all my heart!

One of the things I’m going to be doing, is ending the sessions with a “Q &A” portion. And this in particular is making me a bit nervous! SO – to practice, I asked y’all on my Instagram to send in your questions about recovery/ED, and let me just say — you guys came THROUGH!

So — without further ado…here are my answers (as a non-medical professional!)

How to stop thinking about food 24/7 😩😩😩

The answer to this question is not particularly going to be an easy one to hear…but it is the truth. The reason a person in recovery/ED is thinking about food all the time is because they are still actively restricting, or not getting sufficient nutrition/calories.

Here’s the thing…the body is designed to survive. It is out animal instinct — to live. And so if it is not getting enough calories to survive and thrive, it’s going to turn on the mental “MAYDAY” SOS signal in your brain, to make the body intake more food — because it is in literal distress.

So what is one surefire way to do this? By making you think about it all the time.

When I was actively in my anorexia, I thought about food all the time. It would be the first thing I thought about in the morning, and the last thing I thought about when I went to bed. In fact – I used to dream about it. It was a sick obsession. I’d watch the food network religiously, I’d look at Pinterest food recipes all the time, I’d constantly bake cookies for people and yet never even taste-test the cookie dough. Heck, I’d even go to the grocery store every day just to walk down the aisles and look at the food in a masochistic way, never letting myself enjoy it.

A 24/7 preoccupation with food is a HUGE red flag that there is restriction happening. Food is fuel for our bodies, yes – but also a source for pleasure, let’s not forget that, or make that a bigger deal than it should be.

When we nourish our bodies with enough nutrients to function and thrive, and also allow ourselves to enjoy the beautiful, delicious array of tastes and flavors God gave us, then food will take its proper place in our lives.

We eat. We enjoy. We move on. Never obsessing or deliberating because hey – we eat three meals a day, no food is off limits, and there’s always tomorrow 🙂

OH – and on that note — one last thing — I did go through a “binge period.” I wrote about it here — but the obsession with food is not only present in someone with anorexia. It’s also an obsession with people struggling with binge eating. There’s this “all or nothing” mindset with binging, and so you restrict, restrict, restrict, and then just gorge on everything you’ve been denying yourself. So obviously, you’re obsessing over what you’re going to binge on later. It’s this truly life-ruining cycle that is incredibly hard to break. But just let yourself enjoy food. When we ditch the labels of “good” or “bad” — then we can eat freely, let ourselves enjoy and be satisfied, and that urge to binge will literally dissipate overnight when we just eat without restriction or guilt!

Did you seek residential treatment?

Yes, I did seek residential treatment. I went to inpatient for two months, and honestly, I fully advocate for inpatient/residential (they’re interchangeable terms) — as the best/ –in my opinion, only way– to fully recover.

To be clear: I was adamant at the time against going. As an 18-year-old senior in high school, I was legally an adult, and therefore, my parents legally could not force me to go to inpatient.

It was four days before my graduation and a bed finally opened up at the best inpatient treatment facility in the country. I would not even entertain the idea of missing my graduation, but the fact is, I was 78 pounds, and my situation was so dire, that the doctors didn’t think I had four more days. I needed to go, now.

So my parents staged an intervention, and long story short, I was on an airplane the next morning, flying across the country to inpatient.

NOW – since then, I have become such an advocate for inpatient, because I feel it is the only way one can truly recover. Here’s why:

In her home environment, she is still in control. Up until that point, she’s figured out a way to manipulate her parents and loved ones into actively engaging in ED behaviors, either openly or secretively. So in order to fully heal, she needs to be completely removed from that environment and placed in a situation where she has no other options than to relinquish control.

At inpatient, you are monitored 24/7 — they control the media you consume, your daily activity, the food you eat, they even flush the toilet for you.

The biggest thing, in my opinion, is that it is unfair to the parents. By trying to recover at home, it places the parents in the position of “food police” and forces them to be the “bad cop” — which is detrimental on so many levels. As I mentioned before, she has already learned which “buttons to push” to get her way — but additionally, parents need to remove themselves from the battle and the standoff struggle over food. It is a power play, and the parents need to not engage. At inpatient, there is a nurse who literally monitors what she eats, and won’t let her leave the table until every morsel of food is gone. That type of hard line simply cannot be drawn in a home environment by the parents.

Furthermore, residential/inpatient is at a medical facility. Sure it may be camouflaged as a spa or retreat-like atmosphere, but the fact is — there are doctors and medical staff and equipment at the ready, should, God-forbid something happen. Refeeding syndrome is a very very real thing, and particularly during the initial period, a starving body needs to gradually be nourished. Otherwise, this tsunami-like influx of food could send her weak heart into cardiac arrest. It’s a real thing, and I sure as hell wouldn’t want to try to navigate that delicate balance at home without the supervision of a doctor. #JustMyTwoCents

What advice would you give to those who are ministering to/walking with someone who is in recovery?

Aside from encouraging her to get professional help/continue on with her care team in an outpatient relationship, I think it is incredibly important to be as knowledgable about eating disorders as possible.

By learning about ED, you not only are communicating through your actions to this person that you care enough to become familiar about what they’re going through, but also allows you to more deeply connect. Eating disorders are not about the weight, they’re not about the food — and I can’t begin to express how much it meant to have a person in my life that realized that. Who didn’t look at me as the number on the scale, or see my “progress” or “worth” as how much food I ate or didn’t eat that day, but rather, saw me for me. Who wanted to know my interior, rather than just fixating on my exterior. See her as a person, not just a case to be “fixed.”

And lastly, and most importantly, I think it’s important to remind her of her worth in Christ, and how loved she is, despite our sins and shortcomings. God’s love is a “no-matter-what” situation.

Those in recovery carry around so much guilt and so much shame about their past, and being that source of encouragement and truth that God takes all of us and loves us unconditionally — that is something to just drill drill drill into her head, because though she may know that conceptually, actually believing it is something that takes years and years to fully embrace. Believe me, I know from personal experience.

So yeah — just your presence, and care and love — it goes a long way.

Piggybacking — What’s the best way to intervene with a loved one who may be showing signs of an ED?

With gentleness and kindness. Without judgement or criticism. With concern and honesty. In privacy and a one-on-one setting. Without presumption or accusation. With patience and a willingness to listen. With knowledge that she is probably going to lash out in anger or hurt. With love and compassion. With resources for professional help. With an offer of support and confidentiality.

It will be a difficult conversation. But one that needs to be had. Remember that love is not always soft.

My ED is telling me that I don’t deserve church and God and the community I have there. How do I restore my relationship with God post-ED?

This is definitely something I can relate with. Because I think when we go through something like an eating disorder, or addiction or alcoholism — we can take the guilt we feel for having gone through that, and for having put our loved ones through that — we can internalize that guilt, and come to believe that it wasn’t just our actions that were wrong, but that we, ourselves, as people, at our core are wrong, and disordered and bad.

We can put that guilt on ourselves, which then becomes shame. And that shame becomes a terrible filter through which we see the entire world, and situations, and ourselves, and our relationships — especially with God.

It took me a long time, but I had to realize that my eating disorder was one of the nails the Cross. That Jesus loved me in my broken state. He loved me as I was, in that moment — enough to die for. And to know that He willingly took up the Cross, knowing full well that I would have this season of destruction during my eating disorder, but He died to wipe that slate clean for me, and redeem me from my eating disorder — it broke through.

Keep dwelling on that truth — every morning, every day — until those walls are broken down. But just remember, that Jesus knows all of you, and loves every part of you, and your story — just as it is. Don’t let the ED win by staying away from Church and from God. After all, the voice of ED is really the voice of Satan, so of course he wants to keep you away from God. Don’t let him win. It’s your life. He’s trying to destroy it. Don’t give him that satisfaction.

How do you deal with anxiety over eating? How do you know if a big meal classifies as a binge?

One of the big hurdles of ED recovery is relearning how to a) listen to your body and to hunger cues. And b) what an appropriate portion size is.

During my disease, I had “normalized” portion sizes that were nutritionally and calorically inadequate — to put it mildly. So afterwards, I would feel like I was just eating a mountain of food, when in actuality, it was a “normal” portion size — I was just used to eating what my ED dictated as “safe” — which was next to nothing. So that readjustment can be mentally difficult.

But I will also say this…part of food freedom, is honoring your body’s hunger cues. And sometimes, that means that you will eat more food than normal. But that’s okay! Your body needed it! Perhaps you had a particularly active day, or your body needed some extra protein or iron. Or heck! Maybe it just tasted super delicious and you wanted an extra helping! That’s okay! It’s food freedom — and not every day will be exactly the same.

Binge eating involves regular episodes of compulsive, uncontrollable eating, past the point of comfort, for reasons other than hunger. It is its own eating disorder, and I’ve written more about that, here.

How do you stay strong during recovery?

Honestly – surrounding yourself with people who know, love, and care about you is so important. Eating disorders thrive in secrecy and isolation. So creating a community of life-affirming loved ones is crucial.

For me, it has been so important to embrace life, and embrace people. During my eating disorder, I completely pushed the world away. I isolated myself, and didn’t return a phone call or a text message for two years. So the biggest thing for me in my recovery is to let people in. To say yes to opportunity, and adventure and friendship. And it has made such a huge difference. By doing so, it sends the subliminal message to my brain that, I am worth being known and being loved. And as someone who spent years and years not believing that – it affirms my recovery every day.

Practically speaking – I’ve completely ditched the scale. I don’t even own one. I don’t own a full-length mirror. I threw away those teeny-tiny clothes I wore during my anorexia. I really keep my focus off of the external, and instead make a conscious effort to everyday focus on my soul-health. I listen to worship music. Church sermons. I try to go to daily Mass as often as I can.

I would not have my recovery were it not for Jesus. And part of that sustained recovery comes from being in constant closeness with Him. — Through prayer, through the media I consume, through reading my bible or other Christian publications. And through Christ-centered relationships in my life.

Jesus reminds me who I am, and He fills my mind with the Truth so that I cannot hear the lies that the evil one tries to trip me up with.

So there you have it folks, some of the questions you sent in about recovery. I hope that these were helpful or insightful for you.

At the end of the day, we are what we think about. It’s as simple as that. So we need to constantly be seeking out Christ. He’s not going to force Himself on us, we have to make the choice to be in relationship with Him. And when we are consumed by His love, there’s no room for any other garbage that is flung our way.

I hope you have a beautiful Monday night — and I’ll talk to you all on Wednesday for a recipe, and Thursday for programming as usual!

Hugs and love xoxo

“This is what the Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life.” Ez 37:5

A big thank you to my foundational sponsor, BetterHelp Online Therapy. I cannot begin to express how beneficial therapy was for my recovery from anorexia.  Speak with an online therapist. Or check out content about eating disorders from BetterHelp.

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55 thoughts on “Love is Not Always Soft (An Eating Disorder-Recovery Q & A)

  1. Good stuff here so it’s kind of hard to narrow down the better parts. However, the absolute BEST part was when you talk of Jesus taking of up the cross even for you in your sinful and broken condition. That is why He did the things He did, not just for you but for all people in their sinful and broken conditions. When He talked to the Pharisees who mocked Him for eating with tax collectors and sinners, He said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance” (Mark 2:17). That is a sickness shared by all people. I hope that your speaking engagement goes well and that you are able to inform others about some of the ways they can help their fellow patients in this life.

    1. Thank you so much CD! Yes! He is the foundation of my recovery! Amen amen amen! Thanks for stopping by and for your encouragement! Hugs and love xox

    1. Thanks Kenneth for your prayers and encouragement! That’s an awesome thing to remember! You’re a great friend! Hugs and love xox

  2. Great post, it is heart touching, encouraging hearts. I’m grateful for the call God has on your life and the lives who are touch. When we are able to share and bare witness that, arms are open wide. No one has to overcome alone. The Lord meets us right where we are and to know that others offer love and support, 💜🙏🌸

    1. Thank you so much! Yes! God has brought me through so much, it is the least i can do to praise Him and share His goodness! Hugs and love xox

  3. Great idea for a practice Q&A! I think the “What Advice” question is going to be a critical one for CTK’s Stephen Ministers! Any advice on how to communicate with and understand an ED victim is a hugely important reason for your speech! Holding yourself up as a “case study” and sharing how things progressed down and back up will be a real gift! Along with the testimonial of Jesus’ saving grace in your life!

    Thank you for your courage to open up with strangers to help them help ED sufferers! Can’t wait!!

    1. Thanks Jeff! I think you’re right about that — the q&a is always the most fruitful part of a session – it really allows people to be involved! Thank you! – Those are great topics to be sure to cover and build into the session! thank you! Can’t wait! the countdown is on! hugs to you and your girls! x

  4. Amazing amount of wisdom and insight here. So thankful God brought you safely through so much AND you are sharing and helping so many people. What a beautiful heart for God! Wonderful to see. Love you, as always! Hugs! XO 😄 ❤

    1. oh gosh thank you so much my dear sweet friend 🙂 God really has brought me through so much for that I am eternally grateful. God is good!!!! thanks for stopping by and being such a wonderful friend! love you!!! xoxo

  5. There are various kinds of disorders and they can all be lethal if not treated. The beginning of all treatments is exercise of a will to be treated. Only those who’ve exercised that will and worked through a reversal of the disorder are qualified to mentor those struggling through a similar experience. I believe that is one of your missions in life now to mentor and support. 🙂

    1. Thank you Ian for your kind words of encouragement. You’re so SO right about that — the person has to WANT to get better. No one can want recovery for them, they have to want it themselves. Something powerful to think about. thank you my friend 🙂 hugs xo

  6. God bless you for your courage. You always keep Jesus at the forefront of your recovery. You are such a beautiful example of what it’s like to rely on God.
    I have to take exception to inpatient being the best and only way to truly recover however. Many ED sufferers aren’t even recognized because their BMI isn’t low enough. Others don’t have the “right” insurance. Some are like me and have children they can’t leave.
    I am a therapist and am in recovery myself and have seen that anyone can recover if they eat enough to bring their body to it’s set point so their brain can stop being hijacked by starvation, rely on Jesus for strength, and open up to at least one support person.
    If there’s anything I could add as a professional it’s to give the person in recovery permission to eat! There is this fear of binging, and someone with a calorie debt so deep is not binging.

    1. Thank you so much for sharing your story. You bring up some great points about inpatient. Thank you for that. And yes! I love that! Permission to eat! So true – such malnourished body needs a lot a lot of nutrients to rebuild and regrow cells and muscles and tissues. Hugs and love xox

    1. Thank you friend!! Yeah i think knowledge about it is important when it comes to supporting one another! 🙂 it breeds empathy! Thanks for taking the time to stop by! Hope you have a great day! Hugs and love xox

  7. Great Q&A.. I found it actually inspiring to read. I would like to take note of one question though. No doubt you were asked this question at one time or another….

    “My ED is telling me that I don’t deserve church and God and the community I have there. How do I restore my relationship with God post-ED?”

    Your answer was extremely great, I would like to add something to it though.

    Being someone who has never even been in a eating disorder, I can’t even begin to imagine what the person who asked such a question is actually going through, but there should be some comfort in the knowledge that even though you don’t feel it, God is still there right by your side.
    The bible is full of our heroes who have fallen spectacularly, only to have been redeemed by God; thus showing us how gracious and loving our God is.
    King David said, “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.” (Psalms 139:7 – 12)
    If you read about the life of King David, his life was littered with hardships. He even committed adultery and murder. Yet in all, God still calls him, “A man after my own heart.”

    Also take Paul from the new testament. This great man wrote much of the New Testament. His writing are filled with revelation after revelation from God. His writing are used to define the Gospels we read. Yet, in all, there is a passage where Paul talks about “a thorn in the flesh.”
    There are many theories about the thorn and I wrote an article on it here.

    https://julxrp.wordpress.com/2014/09/21/thorn-in-the-flesh/

    I firmly believe that Paul was more or less haunted by his past. He was a murderer.

    In context, the sins of King David and Paul far supersede any eating disorder, yet God esteems them so high enough to make even us forget their past.
    If God can do that for them, He is certainly more than capable to do the same for you.

    While the question hints closely towards Paul’s thorn in the flesh, the bible already has the answer for us, “My Grace is sufficient for you”.

    So accept His grace and walk in it. Never let the thorns of guilt halt you from becoming the person He designed you to be.

    1. Thanks so much for taking the time to read. That is such an important important point. He is ALWAYS by our side. Great great reminder. Love that so much. Thanks again Hugs and love xox

  8. I’d remind your listeners that not all “treatments” are costly or make them “go away”. Celebrate Recovery ministries are scattered all across the country and one near them can be found on the CR website. It’s free and it’s a place where everyone’s accepted “as is”. Christ’s power never fails to heal if we’ll just let Him.

    1. Thanks Rollie for that information! I think that is a great option for those who have been medically stabilized! 🙂 big hugs to you xox

  9. This is a very transparent and first-hand question and answer session. Thank you for your openness and willingness to educate and provide information about ED in such a clear and easy to understand way. I am praying for your speaking engagement. May God use your platform to glorify himself and educate and heal all who will be under the sound of your voice. May he equip and strengthen you his willing vessel for his great work. This is just the beginning of your speaking engagements. I am excited for you.

    1. Thanks so much Ada for your kind words and prayers. It truly means so much. Thanks for sharing in the end items for with me. Hugs and love xox

  10. What a Glorious Gift Of God you are and what glorious gifts you have received from Him in knowing what is so good in life and letting pass what should be passed. Your sharings and writings are a wonderful gift for all of us to partake. Love and hugs always!! ♥️♥️♥️♥️♥️♥️♥️♥️♥️♥️♥️♥️♥️♥️

    1. Oh gosh Miguel you are just the greatest. Thank you for such wonderful encouragement. Big hugs to you xox

    1. thank you Jackie for your prayers and words of encouragment 🙂 hope you’re having a great week so far! hugs xo

  11. Thanks so much for sharing! I always find these posts helpful for understanding those in my life who are struggling or recovering.

    And congratulations on the speaking engagement! Since this is the first I’ve heard about it 😜 (this blog kept making my computer shut down, so I feel behind on reading it. But now I have an app! Yay!)

    1. Aw thank you friend. I’m so glad these posts resonate with you. 🙂 and thanks for sharing in the excitement with me!! I’m super grateful for the opportunity!! Hugs and love xox

    1. Good! Oh praise God! That’s so awesome. Proud of you, Amanda and I’m cheering for you and your recovery!! Hugs and love xox

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