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Monday, September 17, 2012

3 Common Misconceptions About Eating Disorders

Today you're in for a treat. Singer-songwriter Christa Black is guest-posting on an issue near and dear to her heart. She's recently written a new book, God Loves Ugly, which released September 4th, which chronicles her struggle to find personal peace in the face of insecurity, self-hatred, sexual abuse, depression, and eating disorders.

I haven't posted much on eating disorders, so I hope you find an insider's look as interesting as I did. So welcome Christa! Take it away.

For over two decades, my life was haunted by a devastating food addiction.  If you’re enslaved to food or know someone who is, here are some common misconceptions that are essential to learning for freedom to become a reality.

#1.  Oh, they must think they're fat.

When I binged for the first time at 8-years-old after stumbling onto late night porn down at a friends house, I guarantee you, the last thing I was thinking about was my weight.  Shoveling football player sized portions into my mouth wasn't about my body.  I was numbing an ache in my heart that needed a quick fix.  Controlling the amount of food I let in was just about the only thing I could control in an unpredictable world that punched at me without warning.  

I couldn't control the sexual abuse that had happened outside the home.  
I couldn't control the cruel things that came out of kids' mouths at school.
I couldn't control my freckles, red hair, and the reflection I hated in the mirror.
But I could control food.

Later in life, when the weight began to pile on after years of binging, I would have told you that my anorexia, bulimia, and overeating were about feeling fat.  But in reality, the problem wasn't my reflection.  It was my perception.  I truly believed, more than I believed the sky was blue, that I was unworthy of love.  So every time I looked in the mirror through the lens of those beliefs, what I saw was never enough, no matter how thin, perfect, or beautiful I became.

So yes, people with eating disorders believe that they're fat.  But the real problem is, they believe they're unlovable the way that they are.    

#2.  Eating disorders are just about food

Anorexia, bulimia, and compulsive eating aren't really about food.  Food just happens to be the closest drug able to numb the pain inside.  

Every heart needs one precious substance to live and thrive--LOVE.  Just turn on the radio or television for ten minutes to see what the world is longing for, or go read a book about baby brain science.  We thrive in atmospheres of affection.  When you don't get the love you need, or when it's perverted and cruel, you find counterfeits.  Why?  Because you weren't made to be empty.  These counterfeits can be anything from food, alcohol, and drugs to perfectionism, people-pleasing, and sex.  Anything that fills the heart, temporarily appeasing the ache inside, is a counterfeit affection.  The problem is, these 'fixes' are never enough, which means you have to keep going back for more.

Eating disorders, or any substance abuse for that matter, are just symptoms that a heart needs deeper healing.  

#3  You can never be completely free from an eating disorder once you've had one.

When my therapist told me I'd have the tools to "manage my addiction" but that I'd never be free from it, I got angry.  I refused to believe that because things had happened that were outside of my control--bad things, painful things--that it was just my lot in life to suffer forever and that I would never enjoy freedom and peace.

I didn't want tools to just get by.  I wanted freedom.

And I found it.

Whatever your religious orientation, I believe more than anything that the nature of God is unconditional love.  That means, you can't earn it, perform for it, be good enough for it, or lose it.  It's always there and never leaves based on your behaviors.  When I started allowing God and His unconditional love into the most shameful places of my past--the places I believed were unlovable--I began to heal.  I began to change.  

We all behave according to what we believe, so when my beliefs changed, my behaviors change.  I didn't have to go after the food or the addiction anymore.  I was being loved and believed I was lovable, so there was no need to fill myself with something that didn't love me back.  

Food addiction, self-hatred, people-pleasing, perfectionism--they're all becoming distant memories for me.  I live my life to receive love in the ugly places, and beauty keeps rising from the ashes.  

No matter what you're struggling with or how impossible it seems to ever be free, I promise you,  you can be changed.  You can be healed.  You can be free.

Christa Black is a popular blogger, speaker, and singer-songwriter whose songs have been recorded by multi-platinum-selling artists Jordin Sparks and Michael W. Smith.  She has toured with The Jonas Brothers, Michael W. Smith, and Israel Houghton.  After years of battling depression, addiction, and a chronically broken spirit, Christa was radically shaken by a God who truly loves ugly.  She lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with her husband and son.  God Loves Ugly is her first book and corresponds with her CD, God Loves Ugly. Visit Christa’s site to learn more and read the first chapter!

Thanks so much for this post, Christa! I hope your book reaches individuals in a mighty way for the Lord and invokes a change in their lives that can only be explained my Him.

Let's Analyze

Did you learn anything about eating disorders that you didn't know?