Read Part One.
The month before my wedding was when I really started to consider what meals would look like every day when Johnny and I were married.
I wasn’t about to cook him the dinners of my orthorexic past—usually 1/2 cup chicken breast boiled in water with some spinach and maaaybe a 1/4 avocado occasionally—so I needed to think of something new.
You see, before this month of December, I had already gone almost 3 years with no food rules. What I hadn’t fully realized, though, was that the knowledge I had of macros and calories and nutrients still ruled over my food choices in many ways. I didn’t choose a burger over a salad—or anything over a salad—unless I had no choice. I had the same oatmeal every day. I never cooked with oil. And I still wondered why I couldn’t gain weight or get my period back.
No, I wasn’t obsessively counting every macro anymore… but I had come to BELIEVE that eating needed to be a restrictive practice. Oh, how wrong I was.
It was thinking about my coming marriage that made me realize that wrong. I started to cook things for myself that I hadn’t eaten in literally almost a decade.
Oily stir fries.
Mac & cheese.
Are you salivating?
So many things… And, in the process… I awakened my extreme hunger. My body had been desperately crying out for calories. It didn’t care about macros; it just wanted energy.
It was amazing to eat and feel nourished.
It was amazing to start to feel awake again.
It was not amazing to go to bed bloated, to not be able to button up my pants, or to fear what I must weigh on the scale. It was not amazing—at first—to realize that I would need to get my wedding dress altered because my body had changed.
But it is amazing now.
I look back and I see nothing but amazing works of Jesus for His glory. If I had to look back forever at wedding photos in which I was my slimmest, the devil would have a hay day I’m sure.
If you are reading this and are beginning to realize that it’s been a long time for you, too, since you’ve eaten anything actually delicious… that you fear certain foods… that the strictness of your eating prevents you from going out with friends… I have some tips for you.
1. Pretend you’re about to get married. Or are that you have a 12-year-old daughter.
What do you want dinner with your husband to look like?
What do you want Saturday mornings with your daughter to look like?
What do you think they were meant to look like?
The eating disorder used to convince me that I could only have those things if I stayed thin. But Jesus finally showed me the truth; staying thin meant I couldn’t have those things, because I would be brain-fogged and miserable.
Challenge: Spend a week cooking and eat like you would if you were married with children. If that feels too hard to imagine, think about a family you know with a really healthy relationship with food, and interview them about their eating experiences.
2. Pretend that you are a child–before you knew anything about the numbers of food. I know this is much easier said than done, but take a moment to think about it first. What were mealtimes like back then? What was it like to go to the pantry for a snack? What was it like on your birthday/at Christmas/at Thanksgiving?
Challenge: Take every food thought captive, and ask your childhood self what they would think of that thought.
3. Stop yourself from planning your life around food. Is your first thought about going out, I better check the nutritional info on the menu? Take a step toward life this week, and selflessness and love, and choose to think about the friends, family, and opportunities that come with going out to eat, or having a job that offers free food sometimes, or going on a trip.
Challenge: Take a moment to journal about what a trip you want to go on. What would you want to do? What places would you want to visit while you’re there? Reminisce about a time in which food didn’t get in the way of those experiences. Commit to taking steps toward food fading into the background in every day life.
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?“Matthew 6:25
When you’re first recovering from an eating disorder, it is oh so normal for food to take up a lot of you’re thinking–and for you to eat a lot.
In fact, in order to recover, you need to eat a lot.
But the more you eat to that higher hunger, the more your appetite will slow, and the less you’ll think about food.
I thought it couldn’t be possible for me. I thought I just loved food too much–more than the average person. But, in reality, I was starving.
Hungrier than even for the food I’d deprived myself of, I was so hungry for Jesus.
Desperate and longing for Him. For His presence. For His deliverance. For His Truth, His righteousness, His goodness, His sacrifice, His purpose, His love.
And He gave it, so so freely.
If you don’t know the Gospel story of Jesus, I pray that you would today. I pray that you would seek out His face by amazement of what He did on the cross–dying the death that you and I deserved because He loves us. Rising from the dead, and giving His Holy Spirit to those who believe in Him.
By Grace. Through faith.
When I received that Grace and accepted what a sinner I was, everything changed. He changed my heart, convicted me, challenged me. He didn’t change my soul’s imperfection; but He filled up my spirit with His Spirit.
It’s the most amazing thing that will ever happen to me. And He wants it for each and every one of us.
But He graciously gave us a choice.
Do we want Him?
In terms of your eating disorder, Friend: Do you want life to the full? A life with meaning and purpose, weight and truth, love and joy? Or a selfish life that doesn’t have meaning for eternity?
Look to Jesus. Look to His Word. Look upon His sacrifice.
Allow Him to challenge you.