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By On March 15th, 2014

Does Your Church Have An Eating Disorder?

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How To Address Christian Teens Suffering From Eating Disorders

It is alarming to take note that teenagers are at high risk of suffering from eating disorders. In the recent survey from the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa And Associated Disorders, one half of teenagers use unhealthy weight control habits like fasting, vomiting, skipping meals and taking laxatives  in order to lose weight. The same survey also indicated that 58% of college students are forced to lose weight because of peer pressure and the influence of mass media.

Eating disorders cause problems not only for the body but also to the brain development of teenagers. Examples of eating disorders are Anorexia and  Bulimia and  severe cases of either can cause both heart and kidney failures. These eating disorders can also affect the self-esteem of kids. It is important to understand that eating disorders stem from other mental disorders. Teens who suffer from eating disorders may have experienced abuse, neglect or trauma when they were younger which led them to drastically change their eating patterns and behaviors.

What Can You Do To Help?

 As a Christian parent who suspects their teenager might be suffering from an eating disorder, how should you deal with the situation? There are many ways to deal with eating disorders. It is important that you let them know that you love them and that God loves them too. It is also important that you tell other family members to stop any name calling that might be occurring. Calling someone porky, chubby or fatso can greatly influence a child’s body perception. They think that, in order to gain respect from other people, they have to drastically lose weight and this can lead to an eating disorder.  Consult with your family doctor or a mental health professional sooner rather than later if you think your child might be engaging in eating disorder behaviors such as binge eating, purging, drastically restricting calorie intake, over-exercising or exhibiting signs of preoccupation with their weight.

 The Body Is The Temple Of God

People who suffer from eating disorders tend to lose respect for their bodies. Thus, it is important that you help them understand that the body is the temple of God and if they try to harm it by starving or depriving it of food, then they are also shunning God away from their lives. In Ephesians 5:29, the scripture tells us that we “should not hate our bodies, but feed them and cherish them as Christ loves the church, because we are a member of Christ’s body”.

How To Treat Eating Disorders

Treating eating disorders can be a challenging task because everyone is involved in the treatment procedure.  Help your child understand and accept that he or she needs help. Once acceptance sets in, it is important to tell your child that having a good spirit and heart are more important than physical beauty. Let your child reflect on 1Samuel 16:7 (NIV) which says “The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance but the Lord looks at the heart.”

Eating disorders can be very serious and young Christians struggling with it need a lot of help that they can get from their parents, families and the whole Christian community. By being able to address their insecurities, only then can they live happy and fulfilling lives.

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