Starving and Stuffing: The Same Thing?

50 per cent of recovering anorexics will go on to become bulimic.  What do you think are the reasons for this?  Is it that you have to relearn how to manage appetite? That your body is trying to ‘right’ itself? Or (given that we’re whole people), both physical and emotional hungers surfacing in an overwhelming way?

This is something I’ve struggled with myself and I guess it’s one of the things I have to keep working on.  You’d think in some ways that bingeing would be anathema to someone who feeds on self-control – and it is.  But what I’ve discovered is that, where in the past I’d starve myself to feel better and in control, now the opposite can be true.  Instead of skipping a meal, if I feel bad, I’ll often eat twice. Or much more. Where food was the enemy, now it’s the solution – to everything!

I think that’s one consequence of seeing only the physical side of the disorder – if gaining or losing weight is the issue, then you’ll use food as a way of being good and coping.   It becomes an extension of, ‘be a good girl and finish your plate’.  The danger here is that, although you’re maybe physically in a better place (and that counts for a lot), you’re still using food as a mechanism for self-expression and coping with life.

It turns out I can’t really address my issues with food and weight by focusing on food and weight. Something (or rather someOne) else needs to capture my heart.

5 thoughts on “Starving and Stuffing: The Same Thing?

  1. As I am trying to develop a healthy plan stepping forward, these same thoughts were rolling around in my head today. I was never clinical, so it is very easy for me to let my obsessive behaviors alone. My underlying problem is a distorted body image that was a protective coping mechanism for early maturation. It slowly developed into obsessive exercising and long term fasting, and finally into binge eating. Each of these were solutions, even the body image. Some people can simply make some rules to follow for better healthy choices, but rules become rulers to me. I’m so unsure how to step forward – so I continue to do nothing proactive. It’s so frustrating.

    You say that Jesus needs to capture your heart, but what does that mean exactly? And how does that address the issues?

  2. Hi Emma. I’ve enjoyed reading your husband’s blog for a while, now and it’s nice to be able to “meet” you :)

    I can well identify with much of what you’ve written here as I’ve bordered on anorexic/bulimic for years. And I completely agree that it is only in having one’s heart captured by Jesus that she can truly feel freedom from the need to be externally restraining the willful, internal desire to self-destruct.

  3. The Mike Reeves message on the love of God that Glen suggested was helpful to listen to.

    Maybe you could have a link to especially helpful adio recordings for those who deal with food issues.

    For me, capturing my heart means I’m going to perservere in my relationship with Christ and focus on Him and His love even while I struggle with eating issues…as I’ve done for almost 30 years.

  4. Hi Terry, great idea. I’ll go pester Glen about that!

    Hi Missy

    I love the way you put it – ‘rules become rulers to me’. That’s exactly it.
    And your question – what does it mean for Jesus to capture your heart? – that’s at the very heart, not just of recovery, but life itself. Thomas Chalmers is great on this. He talks about ‘the expulsive power of a new affection’. In a similar vein, Jonathan Edwards says ‘you are not your ideas or passions but your affections – what you most long for’. In other words, it’s not enough for us to get rid of the idols in our hearts (and this is a work of the Spirit rather than self-will) – we also need to replace those idols with someone bigger – Christ. Otherwise the strongman will be replaced by lots more.

    As for the nitty gritty of what it looks like… I’m going to write a bit more over the next few days – love to hear your thoughts.

    Hi Heather

    Great to meet you too – and thanks for your comments! Looking forward to hearing more


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