Do you have a comfort food? A food or a meal that just makes you feel all cozy, warm, and happy? Enjoying a meal that brings you happiness is totally normal, healthy behavior. I have binge eating disorder which is not a normal, healthy behavior, I am also a Christian. Having Binge Eating Disorder does not mean I have any less faith than a “normal” person.
What is Binge Eating Disorder?
Simply stated, Binge Eating Disorder (BED) is an eating disorder characterized by reoccurring episodes of eating large quantities of food (often very quickly and to the point of discomfort); a feeling of a loss of control during the binge; experiencing shame, distress or guilt afterward; and not regularly using unhealthy compensatory measures like purging to counter the binge eating according to NationalEatingDisorders.Org.
My Story with Binge Eating Disorder
Abuse started in my home around age 7 and I would probably say that is when I started binge eating. Our bodies and brains are amazing works of God and we intuitively seek out things that help us cope with our pain. Eating brought younger me pleasure. I probably binge ate to block out my abusive parents, distant extended family, and school yard teasing.
In high school, I was diagnosed with both Binge Eating Order and Bulimia. It was hard being a fat teen and I purged to try to correct my binge eating. During an inpatient stay from an attempted suicide, I got treatment for bulimia and am proud to say that treatment worked for that and until Covid started I had not purged.
Binge eating is not like other eating. When I binge I am usually upset to start with and I usually binge on unhealthy food. I start eating and the mechanisms of eating calm me. The repetitive chewing, the swallowing, the reaching. I eat fast, not really enjoying the food and never realizing how much I have eaten until I have finished the food. The rush of endorphins hits me and I “feel” better but not really.
My original problem is still present but now I have added shame, guilt, physical discomfort, and disappointment.
My Christian Response to Binge Eating Disorder
Loving My Body
“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Psalm 139:13-14
Binge Eating Disorder is a destructive behavior. It does not honor my body. My body is a wonderful creation from God, no matter its’ shape or amount of fat that is on it. It is my body at this present moment. I can not have self contempt at my present body and love my body enough to care what I put inside it.
I am not talking about being vain or conceited. I just talking about loving and caring about your body as much as you would care about someone else’s. I love people as they are in the present moment, not after they lose 50 pounds and I deserve that same amount of love from myself.
Giving Myself Grace and Mercy
God gives us grace when we mess up. Why wouldn’t you give yourself the same He offers us? I am worth that grace and mercy and so are you!
When I binge, I give myself grace. I am not perfect, the Bible tells me that. Coping with emotions and feelings in a healthy way is sometimes hard and human nature has us drawn to comfortable and familiar behaviors. For me, my comfortable behavior is eating until I am numb. I am learning and getting better.
Learning & Using Positive Ways to Deal with Stress and Strong Emotions
When I was being abused as a child and going through my trauma I, of course, did not have the resources available to me to deal with my emotions in a healthy way. Now that I am an adult, I can take responsibility for my behaviors and search out how to deal with my emotions in a healthy way. I do this several ways
- Therapy. I have a licensed counselor that I see. Thankfully, I have insurance that helps pay for it but before I had access to health insurance I was able to call around even to churches and find someone I could talk to about my problems.
- Facebook Groups. Facebook groups for eating disorders are so helpful. They make you realize you are not alone. Coping techniques are shared and you can learn from others.
- Books. Several books, especially the Intuitive Eating book helped me so much in learning how to break so many unhealthy behaviors.
- Podcasts. There so many podcasts out there that are great for those who have eating disorders, including Binge Eating Disorder. Check out this list from Binge Eating Recovery Project.
My binge eating story is not over and does not mean my faith is not strong. I am so glad I have God on my side as I battle this disorder and work through my trauma. I couldn’t imagine not having God on my side.