Finding Your Self-Esteem after Anorexia and Bulimia
Anorexia and bulimia are two of the deadliest eating disorders, yet people who seek treatment are more likely to overcome the conditions. It is an arduous journey, but the effects of the eating disorder are harder. It can leave you feeling as if you are not worthy, not loved, or emotionally weak.But God did not create you to be weak. He created you, a warrior whom He loves so much that He sent His Son Jesus for you. You are worthy and loved above all other creations on Earth! You can return to being you (or a newer, improved, joyful version of you). Building your self-esteem and coming back stronger than ever is possible with Jesus and a few suggestions you can implement today.
As you make Christ the focal point of your recovery and work on rebuilding your physical, emotional, and psychological health after battling anorexia or bulimia, you can implement a few other things to regain your confidence. Rebuilding self-esteem and belief in yourself after anorexia and bulimia will take time, but the more you try and accomplish, the more confidence you will feel.
Depending on where you are in your journey, take one step at a time. Introduce a new habit and try it out for a week or a month before adding another suggestion. Eventually, these layers will add up and help you rebuild your self-esteem.
Know Who You Are
How quickly we forget God created us in His image. He loved us enough to sacrifice Jesus so we could have a real relationship with Him. Think of God as a King and yourself as His daughter. A King protects and cherishes his child. He goes out of his way to keep her on the right path and wants her to honor and respect herself. In our day-to-day lives, God can seem far away.
Ask Him to show you in His word and through others how precious you are. Once you believe this about yourself, certain spiritual confidence is born. You realize that God’s Spirit moves through and around you. You have the fruits of the Spirit through Jesus Christ, including self-control.
The Book of Proverbs states, “As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.” (Proverbs 27:17 NKJV) The New Living Translation reads, “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.” God knew that we would need support as we navigate through this life. The questions are, “Who are you seeking support from? Who is in your circle?”
Unfortunately, not everyone in our lives, not every relationship, is positive or beneficial. Some are toxic. When recovering from an eating disorder, you need people who understand what it takes to break free while lifting you up. If you do not have that support in your life, reach out to a counselor today. Sometimes, simply taking the first step to join an eating disorder support group can take your recovery to a new level.
Treat Your Body Well
Although the physical body holds our spiritual bodies temporarily, it still needs to be honored and treated well. “Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself.” (1 Corinthians 6:19, NLT)
If you are recovering from an eating disorder, you may have a nutritionist or dietician assisting you with planning your meals. Nutritious foods and water ensure that your body receives the proper vitamins and minerals to thrive – not just survive.
Depending on the severity of your condition, your therapist may introduce (or reintroduce) exercise into your weekly routine. Aerobic conditioning, weight training, and flexibility are important aspects of strengthening a healthy body and preventing injuries. If overexercise has been a problem for you or if you used exercise as an unhealthy means to burn more calories than you consumed, speak with your therapist before resuming working out.
Stress can catapult us back into old patterns and behaviors. But being told to stress less is not constructive advice. How do you stress less? This may require you to take a good hard look at your schedule. Are there some chores or errands you could delegate to family members?
Consider taking a step back from specific commitments outside your priorities, such as assuming a role in your child’s PTA or soccer team. Once you have only scheduled things vital to you (and your recovery), give yourself a time out. Find a book or movie you have been dying to read or watch. Soak in a hot bathtub. Get a manicure or pedicure. Or simply take a nature walk to catch your breath and remember what is most important – staying healthy.
Take a Social Media Sabbatical
The constant bombardment of society’s ideal body image can trigger negative behaviors. Consider taking a sabbatical from social media for a while during your recovery. At least until you feel more confident in your new thoughts and behaviors.
It is also imperative to remind yourself that what you see on social media is through a filter. What people show you are highlight reels of their lives. You do not see the struggles, the arguments, the stress. Stay in the present and show gratitude for your life and blessings.
Consider Your Environment
Your counselor may have already mentioned this to you, but your environment has a lot to do with how you react under pressure. Is it crazy at home? Is your living space cluttered? Do you have access to healthy foods? Speak to a nutritionist about planning meals and snacks and the best timing to eat so that you stay on track.
Begin decluttering your living space a little at a time. You may want to label two boxes: one for donations and one for storage. Also, have a trash bag handy to get rid of anything that triggers bad memories. It is your home, your room, and you shouldn’t have anything around that does not bring you joy or has a great memory attached to it.
Set New Realistic Goals
Sometimes recovery can feel all-consuming. To stay on track, you must make conscious decisions. But you can also begin working on reaching new goals outside of food. Have you always wanted to write a book? Learn a new hobby? Now is a great time to set new goals with realistic expectations. Sign up for a class at your local community center or join a group at your library. Push yourself a bit to experience something new. Now is the time to enjoy life.
Spend Time with God
A warrior cannot fight unless she is grounded in her armor and weapons. The only way to procure those is by knowing the word of God. “Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will be standing firm.” (Ephesians 6:13 NLT)
Ephesians chapter 6 breaks down the pieces of armor you will need, including the belt of truth, the body of armor of God’s righteousness, the shoes of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit (which is the word of God).
We know Jesus defeated Satan during a 40-day fast in the mountains by quoting Scripture. Spend time daily speaking with God and reading the Bible until it becomes a part of you. It will give you an advantage over this evil world and help you decipher your own truths from lies.
During anorexia and bulimia recovery, you should feel that you are starting a new life. With Christ at the center, you can accomplish more than you think or imagine. If you need help overcoming anorexia and bulimia or need to speak to someone who understands the pitfalls of eating disorders, reach out to our office today.
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