Overcoming Anorexia

How two courageous women battled an eating disorder—and won
EVERY WOMAN SHOULD BE THIN. At least that's what American society dictates. Pictures of emaciated models and celebrities flood the media, aimed at young women who feel defective if they're not so thin their bones protrude. And it's working. Seventy-five percent of American women say they live in a chronic state of dissatisfaction with their body. And 5-10 million young women struggle with eating disorders and borderline conditions.
These eating disorders, including anorexia nervosa (self-starvation that leads to extreme weight loss), bulimia nervosa (bingeing and purging), and binge eating (compulsive overeating with no purging), affect both mind and body simultaneously. According to Donald Durham, program founder for Remuda Treatment Centers, an inpatient/outpatient Christian counseling facility, eating disorders are often triggered by a specific traumatic event or set of circumstances that causes the person to use food as a solution to resolve her pain. Eating disorder sufferers tend to be young women aged 14-25 (however, the disorder can strike as early as age 8 or as late as age 70), Caucasian, affluent, and perfectionistic, with a type-A personality. When they feel their world is falling apart, they rest in the knowledge that they at least can control their bodies. The hidden truth, of course, is that what they initially take control over soon controls them.
Christie Schweer and Renee Ratcliffe found that to be true—and soon were battling for their lives. But they had the guts to get help. With the help of their faith in Christ, they've stopped looking at their bodies through distorted lenses. Now in recovery from anorexia, they share their stories in the hope others will find healing. —The Editors

MY STRUGGLE WITH BEAUTY

Several years ago, a normal day for me consisted of eating only nonfat or low-fat foods and exercising for three hours. What began as a simple plan to drop 5 pounds somehow spiraled into an eating disorder and a 30-pound weight loss on my 5'8" frame.

I'd never have considered myself a candidate for anorexia, but going halfway across the country to attend college proved to be more than I could handle emotionally. In order to cope with my loneliness, I became obsessed with weight and fitness.

During the first two months of school, I gained a few pounds, even though I was on the tennis team and was getting exercise. At home my mother cooked healthy, well-balanced meals, but the school dining hall offered mostly fattening foods and plenty of tempting desserts. I didn't want to be a victim of the "freshman 15," so I decided to exercise more and cut back on my food intake to burn off those extra pounds. I decided to eat salad for dinner every night.

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May 25

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