Pinterest A Grateful Life Lived: Small Tweaks for a Big Slap-in-the-Face to Eating Disorders

Monday, January 12, 2015

Small Tweaks for a Big Slap-in-the-Face to Eating Disorders

I am so amazed and thrilled at the response from my last post. It is by far my most viewed EVER! While I don't write this blog to see how many readers I can get, I do however get elated to see that God is using me to reach other people and offer hope.

I had someone tell me last year that it was hypocritical for me to speak about my journey while I was still struggling. The truth is: if I wait until I'm not struggling, I'm never going to. Whether ju is anorexia or something else, I'll always be faced with barriers. But here's the thing: the world doesn't want to hear my message of hope when I'm thriving and life seems ideal. To be honest, people pay attention when we are raw and honest. In that manner, we proclaim hope THROUGH trials. So yes: I'm in treatment for an eating disorder. And yes: I'm speaking up now.

So, in light of my last post, I want to offer more insight.  What do you do, for instance, to combat eating disorders in your own friend groups, your own families, your own homes?

Unrealistic Beauty Standards
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Promoting positive body image and confidence are key. Although you cannot ensure that you'll stop eating disorders from impacting your family, you can take preventative steps. Here are a few easy changes to make:

1. Stop commenting on weight and weight loss to others
Whether you are still bunking with mom and dad, or already have children of your own, you most likely can see the persistent pull to focus on outer beauty.  God has created us to value outer beauty and I don't want to diminish that.  But it's important we don't put too much focus on outer beauty alone.  We shouldn't associate beauty with weight or tie it to someone's value.  Comments like: "Wow, you look great. You've lost a lot of weight," may seem harmless but they aren't. If you deem it important toe to mention that to a friend, save it for a private conversation and couple it with a genuine compliment on his/her personality as well. Don't be throwing around comments about weight and size, especially around little ears that soak it all up like a sponge.

2. Start stretching the adjectives "beautiful" and "pretty"
Although we typically associate them with outward appearance, the words "beautiful" and "pretty" aren't limited to someone's outfit or makeup. Your friend can have a beautiful confidence or humility. You can have a joy that is pretty and spunky demeanor that is attractive. Let's stop using these words to only scratch the surface.  (RELATED: Say Goodbye to Barbie?)

3. Give it a rest!

Perfectionism is one of the chief character attributes observed in those struggling with anorexia (and eating disorders in general). So give it a rest! If you have children of your own, encourage healthy responses to failure. Don't let them quit just because they don't excel at something. And above all: don't send mixed messages. If you are saying its ok they aren't perfect, but you lavish praise and affection when they get top marks, it will reinforce that perfectionism in many children. If you're like me and you aren't thinking about doing your own taxes yet, let alone having your own family: this still applies to you. Most likely, you are a role model to at least one young person. Start utilizing this skill now. In the process, you may see that your own confidence and self-image are improving.

4. Talk about eating disorders!
As I addressed in my last post, I am very bothered by the stigma that surrounds eating disorders. They are seen as the shameful illness that's tucked away. Instead of pretending they aren't there, get the issue out into the open. Learn what the warning signs are for eating disorders, don't shy away from talking about them when it is appropriate and helpful to a situation. Removing the stigma is a vital step in helping those who are struggling with them. One of the easiest ways you can get educated is by subscribing to my blog, where I'm planning to start posting regularly on common misconceptions, education and ways you can spot possible eating disorders. 


I truly hope you will take this into consideration. Most of these tips I've outlined are just small tweaks to your everyday behavior. Yet, they can make a big difference in the atmosphere you create and the legacy you leave. I, for one, want to be remembered as someone who truly connected with others on a deep level that surpassed their latest wardrobe update. I want them to walk away from their time with me, holding a higher opinion of themselves as a valuable man or woman who should be proud of who they are. (RELATED: Who Do you Think you Are? 

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