Starving for Love

Recognizing and understanding eating disorders in children

As pastor's children, we weren't allowed to play with Barbie dolls or take dance lessons or look at fashion magazines. Mom was a nutritionist; she knew about eating disorders. And she had decided, long before we were born, that we wouldn't get them.

So we were homeschooled and forced to attend church and taught that only inner beauty mattered, and by the age of 13, I was so severely anorexic, nurses couldn't believe I was still alive.

A Family Affair

While it wasn't anything that my parents did, necessarily, that caused my hunger for love, there were also things that they didn't do which affected my decision to starve myself.

After all, while secular organizations today say eating disorders are a disease, not an illness, a result, not a choice, I believe, in fact, that eating disorders are very much a spiritually influenced decision. And while I didn't know about anorexia nervosa, I knew I was unhappy. That I had little or no attention from my father, a mother who didn't allow me any independence or choice, and an address that was constantly changing due to my father's job.

I was lonely, insecure, and desperate for affirmation and control: all factors which feed an eating disorder.

According to a survey conducted by SELF magazine in 2008, 65 percent of the female population battles a form of disordered eating. Another 10 percent displays symptoms consistent with clinical eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder.

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