When a Diet Spins Out of Control

If you are struggling with an eating disorder, the first thing to do is tell someone else. Healing comes from a lot of talking, thinking, working and listening — especially, listening to your heart. This will require honesty. You will need someone objective, someone outside of yourself, to help you process all your thoughts and feelings. Granted, it seems embarrassing and scary to entrust someone else with such personal information. So choose carefully whom you tell — but do tell someone.

Peers may not be the best option; even family members who love you dearly may not know what to say or do to help you get at the root. In fact, those who care about you will not want to see you hurt, so they may try to help you distract yourself from the pain. A licensed therapist can be objective, and will keep everything absolutely confidential. He or she can help sort through all the confusing thoughts and speak some trustworthy truth into the situation.

A good counselor or program will also hold you accountable — that is, they will empower you by encouraging you to make good, healthy choices about what to do with your body. They will not allow you to make any excuses that will keep you in the destructive patterns. If you sincerely don't know how to feed your body well, a nutritionist can help.

Keys to healing

You are not alone. Many women suffer with eating disorders — bulimia and anorexia together form the third most common illness among adolescent females. Intake counselors at Remuda Ranch in Arizona report 500 calls each month — and these are only from the women who are hurting enough to ask for help! Those counselors are there to help each and every woman figure out the best way to tackle her problem. Call them. You can also contact our sponsoring organization, Focus on the Family, for a one-time free phone consultation with a licensed Christian counselor or to obtain the number of a trustworthy counselor in your area.

Healing will take work. Most women aren't "fixed" overnight. Sheila Mather worked through guilt, fear, shame, inferiority, anger and grief from her past from age 25 to 30. Every day she had victory, she confronted the false messages in her mind that had played for so long and allowed her to be so hard on herself. Some days she slid back into old patterns, but once she had begun the path to recovery, she could only press forward to wholeness. Sheila wouldn't trade any of the hard work for something less than the freedom she has now:

I woke up on a beautiful summer morning and leapt out of bed. I felt a drive to live! The past was behind me. I felt no need to cling to it or change it in any way. Today was a new day with new choices. … I looked forward to new challenges. What other people thought had no bearing on my choices. …I liked who I was. I wanted to be all that I was. I was eager to live life. I was ready. I knew that there would be times when I would feel overwhelmed with fear. I knew that shame would always be a part of my life. I knew that I'd experience pain and disappointment, probably many times. But joy and love were at the centre of my thoughts. I had hope. I had excitement. Negative thoughts no longer ruled, although they were still present.

You do want to be free! Human beings were not created to live in the kind of misery that bulimia and anorexia cause. You were made to be free, and God wants to set you free. You can use food as it was intended — to nourish your body. You can be free to feel — to hurt, to be confused, to be sad, to be repentant, to be angry. You can even laugh again — a light, joyful laugh from the depths of your soul. Your healing depends partly on your desire. If you truly want to be free, remind yourself of that every moment, and ask others to help you remember that.

When Paul the Apostle petitioned God to remove his "thorn in the flesh," the Lord replied, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." So Paul decided, "I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong."

God specializes in taking the "weaklings" of the world and turning them into strong and beautiful souls. In His eyes brokenness is not a failure; it is the gateway to deeper spirituality. (From Judith Couchman's Designing A Woman's Life: Discovering Your Unique Purpose and Passion.)

Background Information

Addiction Triggers
What causes the addiction cycles to begin?

Dr. Jekyll's Potion
The link between alcohol and violent behavior may be stronger than you think.

If You're an Alcoholic
Think you'll never be able to quit? There is hope.

But I've Got Reasons!
Alcoholics offer countless excuses for drinking. They simply don"t hold water.

Questions and Answers

My husband is an alcoholic. Can it be treated, and is there hope for families like mine?

Have you ever been concerned that exercising the concept of "tough love" in a marital crisis could potentially kill the marriage?

Review Frequently Asked Questions


Absentee Father
One adult child of an alcoholic shares his experience of healing and hope.

Under the Influence
Growing up with an alcoholic father was frightening. In the end, I choose to give my father the gift of forgiveness.

It Would Never Happen to Us
Teen drug addiction is always some other family's tragedy, until it hits home.

If you've been through a experience related to this topic, we invite you to share your story with others.
Share Your Story

Other Things to Consider

The Hungry Heart
Our souls seek satisfaction like a starving man seeks food. Regardless of race, culture or creed, we have one commonality: hungry hearts. What is it our souls hunger for? Relationship.

Where is God in the Midst of All My Troubles?
So many cry out to Him in times of need, but is God really listening? And, more important, does He care?

Life Pressures: Workaholism

Parenting Teens Drugs and Alcohol, Eating Disorders, Internet Concerns

Relationships:  Anger