A Christian Parents Guide On Talking To Your Daughter About Eating Disorders
Eating. It should be one of the most normal and natural things we do - just another part of our everyday life, right?
For many people today, it is more complicated than that. The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) states that in the United States alone, 20 million women suffer or will suffer from an eating disorder at some time in their life, with the majority of cases found in girls between the ages of 13 to 18. It is integral that Christian parents know how to talk to their daughters about eating disorders.
Here are some important things to consider:
1. What is it that drives young women to take such extreme measures?
Eating disorders are never simple. Each case is unique, every struggle different in some way. An eating disorder is also never simply a surface behavior - its roots lie in the soul.
2. What is driving your eating disorder? What is that thing that you really want more than anything?
Is it the approval and acceptance of your peers or parents? Is it the hopes of adoration? Is it simply the need to be in control? Is it the need for perfectionism?
When you talk to your daughter about eating disorders, challenge them to think and pray about that. And as they do, ask one more question: has God called you to be thin?
I can answer that one for you – He hasn’t.
3. If we are to be women of God, we need to concern ourselves with what God is concerned with. And He is concerned with your body.
“Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food”—and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? … Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” 1 Cor. 6:13-15, 19-20
While the context of this passage is sexual immorality, the principle applies to all areas.
What is the purpose of our bodies? What do we have them for? For the Lord! We no longer belong to ourselves. Our bodies belong to the Lord. Not only do they belong to Him, they were made for Him! You were created to glorify God, not just in your “spiritual life,” but with your entire being – including your body. The apostle Paul mentions here our union with Christ – we are united to Him, so our bodies are members of Christ. Can you see the implications of that? If we are hurting our bodies, which do not even belong to us, we are dishonoring the Lord. We are His members. Whatever we do is directly tied to Christ.
4. When our daughters have the right view of their bodies., everything is put into place.
Not simply the fact that God made you wonderfully (which He did!), but this view reminds us that God has every right to our body. And might I just add that He is not in any way against your body – He has chosen to make it His dwelling place (1 Cor. 6:19). Filling it with purpose, He can say that He is for your body!
5. When talking to your daughter about eating disorders, challenge her to choose to honor God over whatever it is that you want that drives you to hurt your body with an eating disorder.
If you crave perfectionism, can I remind you that Jesus achieved your righteousness for you? He lived a perfect life in your place; you are no longer condemned when you are united with Him – would you repent, accept His righteousness, and worship Him for it? (2 Cor. 5:21)
- If you crave control, would you surrender to your sovereign God that cares deeply for you? (1 Pet. 5:7; Job 42:2)
- If you crave love and attention, can I remind you that you already have that in the Savior who gave His everything to buy you back? (Rom. 5:8)
- If you crave acceptance and approval, can I remind you that you can’t earn those on your own? You have acceptance and approval from God because of what Jesus has done for you! (Heb. 4:14-16; Rom. 8:37-39)
5. Finally, let her know that this is an ongoing battle.
“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” 1 Cor. 10:31
Realize that that the battle never ends here. I am writing not as one who has overcome completely, but as one who is in the trenches. There are days where looking in the mirror is still hard and I have to remind myself of these truths. But I have hope in the fight. The hope is that we know what the future is for our bodies. One day, the fight will end and we will be redeemed! God will raise us up by His power (1 Cor. 6:14). In the twinkling of an eye, we will be changed, and our perishable body will put on the imperishable (1 Cor. 15: 51-53). We will appear with Christ in glory! (Col. 3:4). And He will present us, bodies and all, to God as holy and blameless. Perfect.
So take heart. The struggle will come to an end. On that day, all will be made new.