If you spent a day with me, you'd probably have no idea that I once struggled with an eating disorder. I have a good relationship with my body and with food. Today I'm a registered dietitian known as the Healthy Grocery GirlÒ and am the founder and CEO of my own nutrition and healthy lifestyle company. But years ago, my life—and my relationship with food and my body—was very different.
I struggled with my own health. Eating well and respecting my body has not always been easy for me. Like so many others, I was overwhelmed, lost, and broken as I struggled with an eating disorder.
When I was in high school and college, I was anorexic, bulimic, and I abused laxatives. It was a depressing, scary, and empty time in my life. My eating disorders started from feelings of insecurity about how I looked compared to other young girls my age. I began to pay more and more attention to what I ate and how I looked. But like most people who struggle with an eating disorder, physical appearance and food were not the real root issues. At the core, I was broken. My heart was broken.
The person I was dating in high school chose another girl over me. This led me to wonder, What is wrong with me? Am I not good enough? I felt empty and hurt. I didn't know how to fix my feelings, so I tried to control an area of my life I thought I could fix: my eating. Yet this was a false promise of comfort, because the very thing I would go to in order to find escape from my brokenness was the very thing keeping me captive in a cycle of pain, guilt, and shame.
During that time I was very sensitive to comments people made about my body. It made me uncomfortable when they said I looked skinny. If they said I looked healthy, I interpreted this statement as "I look fat." And comments like, "You should just eat more," were not helpful. In fact they made me feel more frustrated and evoked additional negative feelings. Since I did not know how to manage my feelings in a healthy way, I would turn to methods of controlling my eating to try to find comfort.
Even though I grew up in a Christian home and I've always believed in God, during that season of my life I was driven by the sense that I was not good enough. I was healed from my eating disorder not by going away to a treatment center or spending years in therapy. I found healing in God, and I got healthy because I wanted to be healthy. I became sick of being sick—which is an important place to get for all people who need to overcome unhealthy habits.
Although the steps to overcoming an eating disorder are challenging and even painful, the steps to do so were less painful than the pain of remaining as I was. I poured myself into things that supported a healthy mind shift. I read a lot of books such as Captivating by John and Stasi Eldredge, and of course I read my Bible. I listened to positive music, I exercised which boosted my mood, and I focused on activities that were kind to my body, my mind, and my soul. Eating disorders are not kind, so I made an effort to focus on things that made me feel strong, loved, and capable.
You can look to outside sources for help such as counselors, treatments centers, friends and family. However, if you don't have access to these resources it does not mean that healing is less attainable for you. These resources can be tools, but the only human being who can truly help you get better is you, and God can help you. God was my strength on days I did not feel strong. I prayed every day asking him to help with what I was struggling with that day. I wrote Bible verses on note cards and kept them in my purse to read throughout the day for encouragement and strength. God and you alone can be the tools you need to recover because God is the only one you can truly count on to always be there for you when you need strength, love, and peace from worry or fear.
Today I know that my hope and peace come from God and his unconditional love, but at that time in my life I couldn't see this truth. Thankfully, I am now completely healed from this disease, and I am a better person for what I have gone through. God has used my past struggles to change me for the better. As a dietitian, I am now able to not only have sympathy, but empathy for others who are struggling with their own health.
Megan Roosevelt is a fun-loving foodie, registered and licensed dietitian, and the founder and CEO of Healthy Grocery Girl LLC. Connect with Megan at HealthyGroceryGirl.com, on Twitter @hlthygrocerygrl, and on Facebook.