10 Tactics to Defeating Temptations

If you have had an eating disorder, you are probably familiar with the horrifying thoughts that threaten to swallow you whole. The thoughts that condemn and beat you into the ground. The thoughts that seem to control every decision you make.

I wish I could say that these thoughts can be easily overcome. But to be quite frank, recovery sucks. It isn’t easy. It takes a lot of time and hard work. So if you’re looking for a quick escape from your eating disorder, you may want to start looking elsewhere.

Recovery is a decision to be made every single day. Ultimately, you decide how to handle the convicting voices. And often times, this means to simply sit with them. Just sit with the voices. You can listen to them, but don’t give into them – there’s a big difference between the two.

During my recovery, I was frequently bombarded with negative, hurtful thoughts. And with them, temptations came flooding in. The temptation to omit butter from my oatmeal. The temptation to pour my orange juice down the sink when my mom looked away. The temptation to exercise at night or in the early morning. The temptation to lie about what I’d eaten. The temptation to do squats in the shower. The temptation to put one less slice of lunch meat on my sandwich.

These thoughts and temptations can be almost too much to handle, which is why I think it’s important to find distractions – things to temporarily disengage you from the voices.

Listed below are some suggested distractions to use when the thoughts and temptations hit. I found that these were all helpful for me during my own recovery:

1) Watch TV while you eat, particularly something funny. It’s a good distraction from your food, and besides, it’s hard to feel upset while watching a lighthearted show or movie!

2) Listen to music during mealtimes. My counselor recommended that I listen to “Make War” by Tedashii. The empowering lyrics and upbeat tune gave me the motivation I lacked to eat past my fears (“Worn” by Tenth Avenue North, “Tell Your Heart to Beat Again” by Danny Gokey, “Human” and “Tiny Victories” by Christina Perri, and “Scars to Your Beautiful” by Alessia Cara are just a few of the songs that I especially enjoyed amidst recovery).

3) Write during your free time. Write about your day. Write about your dreams or future plans. Write your thoughts, feelings, and emotions.

4) Call or visit a friend. Social interactions are so, so important in recovery. Surround yourself with people that will encourage you, both in words and in action – specifically people that aren’t dieting or trying to lose weight. Surround yourself with normal eaters.

5) Draw or color a picture. I know, I know. You might insist that you’re “too old” for coloring, as if that’s a thing. But both activities are soothing and therapeutic. It’s an easy distraction from food, and, when finished, you’ll have a beautiful piece of artwork!

6) Play a board game. When I began recovery, I remember my dad suggesting that we play cards together. I didn’t necessarily welcome the idea at first, but it proved to be a fun time! It was a good bonding experience, and it kept my thoughts, though only temporarily, off of food and exercise.

7) Play video games. I’ve never been much of a gamer, but I am pretty competitive. Whether it be Mario Kart, Wii bowling, or Fortnite, video games are a good distraction from other things. And for those that aren’t as accustomed to electronic gaming (e.g., myself), it can be a nice change of pace.

8) Read a book. Although reading has become sort of old-fashioned nowadays, it will never go out of style! Transport yourself to foreign countries and travel across the globe. Go on adventures and meet new people, and all with the turn of a page!

9) Take a bubble bath – seriously! Scientific studies have shown that bathing can alleviate stress and reduce anxiety. Blast the Spotify and relax! Lay back and soak it in. You deserve it!

10) Dig into God’s Word. Yeah, yeah. Maybe you aren’t religious. You don’t believe in God. You have an eating disorder, not a spiritual crisis. But please, just try. The Bible is God’s way of speaking directly to you. He loves you so much! In fact, God is love (1 John 4:8). “He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us (2 Corinthians 1:4).”

I could give plenty more suggestions, but these are my top ten favs! Some may sound generic or unoriginal, but, speaking from past experience, all were beneficial to my overall mental health.

I recommend that each be done from a seated position. Anorexia hates the notion of remaining idle. Thus, you sit still.

Don’t combat negative thoughts with restriction or exercise. Don’t give into Anorexia. Don’t give into her temptations. Don’t sneak off to the bathroom to compulsively burn calories or to hide food away. It’s not worth it. You, are worth more.

– Taylor

My Experience With Eating Disorder Treatment

Let’s talk about therapy. For some, this could be a touchy subject. For others, perhaps a comforting topic of conversation. Regardless of where you stand, here’s my take on the issue.

About a year and a half ago, my mom made the decision to seek help from a trained professional on my behalf. Time and time again, I had proven that I was incapable and unwilling to choose recovery. Thus, she took it upon herself to find help.

I expected I would meet with an eating disorder specialist or a recovery coach of some sort. However, this was not the case. In December of 2017, I began my sessions with a Biblical counselor.

Right away, I openly admitted my fears and apprehensions. I unloaded what I had kept hidden inside for so long. I talked through my struggles and concerns surrounding food. I confided in my counselor, as though I had known her for years.

Several weeks into our sessions, it was suggested that we do a Bible study together. I was slightly taken aback by this proposal. I was disinterested, to say the least. I was not there to listen to sermons. Trust me, I was receiving my fair share of those at home.

It irritated me that my counselor would recommend a Bible study. She doesn’t get it, was my immediate reaction. She doesn’t understand what I’m going through. She doesn’t comprehend the depth of my illness. If only she could grasp that I don’t need more lectures. I don’t need to read more Bible stories. I need someone to listen to my story. I need a meal plan, not a Bible plan.

I went into the whole ordeal with somewhat of a closed mindset. I couldn’t understand how a study titled The Gospel-Centered Life had anything to do with my eating disorder. How was this supposed to help me? Was it just mindless filler, to occupy the time?

Then, maybe halfway through the study, a lightbulb went off in my brain. Sure, the Bible study may not have specifically applied to my life, but my life could easily apply to that particular Bible study. In other words, the study wasn’t written for recovering anorexics. But an anorexic could equally use the study to recover.

If you’re still confused as to what I mean, let me continue. The author probably didn’t have me in mind when he composed his book. But even so, the book was written directly to me. And why is that?

Although the study had nothing to do with anorexia nervosa, when the Gospel is made central in our lives, it has a strong affect on every aspect of our being. In my case, the Gospel allowed me to obtain a new perspective on food and exercise.

For far too long, my eating disorder had become an idol. I worshipped food and praised fad diets. It had become the central theme of my life. Therefore, I had a distorted opinion of God. My inflated view of self and so-called “healthy” foods and vigorous workouts had deflated my view of the Gospel.

Learning to live a Gospel-centered life allowed me to truly recover. Not to say that I’m perfect or that I have ever been so. I stray away and lose focus, a typical human tendency. But continual striving towards the cross has freed me from my eating disorder.

Perhaps my counselor was the smartest woman on the planet. She recognized that I needed Jesus significantly more than I needed another ritualistic meal plan. I needed Jesus more than I needed affirmation to eat. I needed Jesus more than I needed self-care.

In the moment, I couldn’t identity my needs. I thought that quinoa and egg whites would make me whole. I assumed my worth to be found in the foods I ate and in the exercise I performed. Yet my worth is not in what I eat. I am made complete by none other than Jesus Christ!

Without the Savior, I believe recovery to be immensely hard. Until you make Jesus the main focus of your life, your eating disorder will decide your every move, justifying every wrongdoing. Lying will become excusable, and disobedience, a mere habit. Deception will become a daily practice, and secrecy will play a part in your typical routine.

I urge you, run! Run from your eating disorder and from lying, disobedience, deception, and secrecy. Run from aimless pursuits and earthly pleasures. Run from these things and into the arms of my Savior!

When I was sick, I longed to experience contentment – contentment with my body. I was searching for a piece of mind that I never received.

But, when I turned from anorexic behaviors and trusted wholly in Jesus Christ, that’s when I experienced true contentment. A sense of freedom, unlike anything else. A security that I am enough because He is enough.

You don’t need a nutritionist or a 12-step program. You don’t need more greens or grains or grapes (try saying that five times fast!). You don’t need to take a class on mindfulness or a course on intuitive eating. You need, more than life itself, a relationship with God Almighty.

“And my God shall satisfy all your needs according to His riches in the glory of Yeshua, The Messiah.” – Philippians 4:19

– Taylor

Orthorexia Nervosa

Anorexia and bulimia are the two categories that come to mind when you think of an eating disorder.

According to Google, anorexia is defined as being an emotional disorder characterized by an obsessive desire to lose weight by refusing to eat. It is commonly known as a quest for thinness due to a discontent with one’s own body.

Similarly, bulimia is defined as being an emotional disorder involving distortion of body image and an obsessive desire to lose weight, in which bouts of extreme overeating are followed by depression and self-induced vomiting, purging, or fasting.

However, anorexia is much more than the pursuit of “skinny.” And equally, there is more to bulimia than the typical binging and purging. But that’s a different story for a different day.

Although most people are only diagnosed with one or the other, it isn’t unusual for an individual to suffer with a combination of eating disorders. Often times, one illness will evolve into a form of another.

Although never professionally diagnosed, I would say that I developed anorexia around age twelve. From there, it advanced into orthorexia.

Orthorexia nervosa. You’ve probably never heard of it. Doesn’t surprise me. Like I said before, anorexia and bulimia are the two disorders widely known among Americans. Orthorexia isn’t as notorious.

So what is orthorexia anyway? It is the unhealthy obsession with eating so-called “healthy” foods.

From first glance, orthorexia doesn’t seem like such a bad thing, which is why it so often goes untreated. After all, it is important to prioritize your health. But there is a fine line between balanced eating and eating “clean” to the detriment of your mental health.

Orthorexia compulsively checks nutrition labels. She wants the most bang for her caloric buck, so to speak. She looks for items low in sugar, high in protein. Foods low in sodium, high in vitamins and minerals. Low in taste and pleasure, high in dissatisfaction and unhappiness.

Orthorexia takes a strange interest in what others are eating. She spends hours of her day thinking about food. She is easily fascinated with cooking shows, food blogs, and “healthy” lifestyle accounts on social media.

Orthorexia loves cooking rich, indulgent, calorie-dense foods for others. She uses sugar – oh, lots of sugar – and butter and salt. She adds in extra cheese and more sugar, for good measure. She prepares such yummy things, and yet, refuses to eat them herself.

Orthorexia studies restaurant menus for fun and finds enjoyment in poring over various workout routines. She is extremely concerned and conscious about every particle of food that passes through her mouth. She avoids ingredients deemed to be “unhealthy.” She packs her own food and worries about what might be served at the church potluck next month.

Orthorexia becomes greatly troubled when her usual “safe” foods aren’t available. If this is the case, she might decide to skip dinner, arguing that no meal is better than an “unhealthy” meal.

Anorexia is a severely dangerous disease. But, when coupled with orthorexia, I believe it can be very crippling and seem almost insuperable, meaning nearly impossible to overcome. Anorexia, in of itself, is a restrictive eating disorder. However, when paired with orthorexia, the restriction only increases. The small list of “safe” foods shrinks smaller and smaller.

Although orthorexia is an extremely hard-to-beat illness, it can be done. I’ve heard from different sources that some recovery centers are unsure of treatment methods for this particular eating disorder. Likewise, I’m sure that families and parents are uncertain when it comes to helping their suffering child or loved one.

But, this is where I think we begin to overcomplicate things. Recovery is difficult, but we have the tendency to make it much harder than it needs to be.

Whether you’re a recovering anorexic, orthorexic, or bulimic, my message remains the same – you simply need to eat. I know, that sounds like such an unoriginal thought. You’re probably tired of being told to eat. But regardless, it’s so true! You need to eat a butt load of calories. You need to eat ingredients that scare you in quantities that scare you. You need to stop weighing your food and tracking your intake. You need to delete any and all calorie counting apps. You need to stop researching menus and following toxic accounts on social media. You need to quit exercising and watching workout videos.

Recovery is possible. 1 Corinthians 10:13 says, “The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.” This is such a comforting verse! Even amidst our struggles and hardships, God provides a way of escape. Look to Him, and He will rescue you.

– Taylor

Drinking Almond Milk will Kill You, and Here’s Why…

Now, I personally have nothing against almond milk. I don’t hate or despise it. I understand that some people, for specific health reasons, have no other option.

If you can get past the thin, watery consistency and the cardboard box flavor, almond milk isn’t so bad. It almost tastes like real milk – almost. Except it isn’t. It isn’t real milk, and it will never be real milk.

Comparatively speaking, almond milk has significantly fewer calories than real milk, which is why, I presume, a lot of people opt for this alternative.

But please, listen carefully. If you have or have had an eating disorder, you do not need to be drinking almond milk. Don’t tell me that you prefer the taste, because that’s absolute crap.

Here’s the thing: almond milk in and of itself will not kill you. But, if you are choosing to drink almond milk for the wrong reasons, it could be very damaging and detrimental to both your physical and mental health. Confused as to what might be considered the “wrong reasons?” Let me elaborate on that.

• if you are drinking almond milk due to its low calorie content, you are doing so for the wrong reasons

• if you are drinking almond milk due to its low sugar content, you are doing so for the wrong reasons

• if you are drinking almond milk due to a sudden fascination in veganism, you are doing so for the wrong reasons

• if you are drinking almond milk in avoidance of real milk, you are doing so for the wrong reasons

I have no problem with someone choosing to drink almond milk. But if I know that that particular individual has been, in some way, affected by an eating disorder, I might begin to question their motives. Obviously, there’s nothing wrong with drinking almond milk. But for an anorexic, it goes far beyond a glass of white liquid.

An anorexic doesn’t just restrict in one small area. An anorexic will restrict at every given opportunity. Therefore, if an anorexic is restricting their dairy consumption, it is guaranteed that they are restricting in other areas. For this reason, it is deadly for an anorexic to drink almond milk. The same could be said of other foods and beverages.

I’ll say this again: drinking almond milk for any of the wrong reasons will lead to some serious issues.

If you have an eating disorder, you may strongly disagree with my argument. As you read this, you are inwardly justifying your choice to drink almond milk. You claim that real milk hurts your stomach, or that you’ve recently developed an intolerance to lactose. You insist you are saving the animals in your decision to purchase almond milk.

Excuses, excuses, excuses.

Excuses meant to cover up the truth. The truth that you are afraid of the extra calories found in real milk. The truth that you are still clinging to your eating disorder. The truth that you are fearful of full, wholehearted recovery. The truth that you are, in fact, restricting.

The world applauds almond milk. Studies and tests are performed to prove that almond milk is “healthier” than cow’s milk. But is it? Is it, really? Is it healthier when it becomes an obsession? Or when you cry at the thought of dairy? Or when you are unwilling to eat cheese or butter or chocolate pudding? Is it healthier when you refuse ice cream, which used to be your favorite food? Or when you are financially unstable due to your compulsive spending on diet foods – e.g. almond milk? Or when you are wasting away, now skin and bones?

Why make such a big deal out of a seemingly harmless drink? Could it possibly be that bad? To be honest, no, it isn’t. It isn’t that bad. But even so, it will never stop at just almond milk. Your eating disorder will be dissatisfied, always pushing for more. More restriction. More exercise. More hunger pangs.

More, more, more. Almond milk will kill you, and don’t think that it won’t.

– Taylor

Serving Sizes Are Ludicrous

The recommended serving size for a portion of trail mix is one-fourth cup. One. Fourth. Cup. That is ridiculous – laughable even. What can a fourth cup of trail mix possibly do for me? Feed my big toe? Maybe, but that’s pushing it.

Serving sizes are an absolute joke. Of course, I haven’t always carried this mindset. When my anorexia was very active, she liked to memorize serving sizes and nutrition labels. She precisely measured her food, down to the smallest gram. She counted and calculated and considered every crumb. Anorexia didn’t believe in second helpings, or even one and a half helpings, for that matter.

If you are recovering from a restrictive eating disorder, you cannot abide by the suggested serving size. You need to eat more! Always more. You’ve grown so accustomed to small plates and bird food that you’ve forgotten what a normal portion looks like. And no, it isn’t one-fourth cup of trail mix.

Because you are malnourished and in a caloric deficiency, you need to eat massive quantities of food. Sipping on a dinky protein shake here and there will not cut it. Simply adding in an extra snack is not enough. A meager glass of milk with your meal is insufficient. You need to be eating a significantly larger breakfast, lunch, and dinner followed by three (at least) big, substantial snacks.

When I began recovery, I was terrified to eat anything over the suggested serving size. But the truth of the matter is this: serving sizes are merely man-made measurements. My body doesn’t say, “Oh my gosh! Taylor just ate four servings of trail mix! What do I do? How do I process an entire cup of trail mix? Doesn’t she know that a single serving is one-fourth of a cup? What am I to do with these three extra servings?” No! That’s insane. Our bodies don’t know serving sizes. Our stomachs don’t digest food according to serving sizes, which is why, I have concluded, that they are completely useless.

Useless. Unnecessary. Pointless. Futile. Good-for-nothing. That’s how I feel about serving sizes. I don’t appreciate it when my portion has been predetermined for me. Let me eat what I want, in the quantity that I want it. Rightfully so, I should be able to enjoy my food without worrying that I must appease a man-made number printed atop plastic packaging.

Serving sizes are ludicrous, and you can’t convince me otherwise.

– Taylor

Keeping a Recovery Journal

I’ve never been good at outwardly expressing my feelings. I can plan and arrange what I mean to say, but something always happens between my brain and my mouth that seems to hinder me from eloquently communicating my thoughts.

When I developed an eating disorder around age twelve, my already somewhat quiet personality was amplified. I bottled my emotions and kept things in. I thought it a weakness to open up. I considered it debilitating to make myself vulnerable. I won’t hesitate to admit that I’m a prideful person, and for a while, I hated for others to think that I was anything less than perfect. It’s silly and dangerous, I know.

Anorexia is centered around secrecy and isolation. Everything is done in private, and all emotions are buried deep down. Even in recovery, my mom had to pry things out of me. I didn’t want her to know that chocolate syrup freaked me out or that I truly did enjoy mayonnaise, for fear that she might have me eat both.

I cannot stress enough the importance of addressing any and all thoughts in regards to food. Don’t keep your thoughts in, hoping to retain a small part of your eating disorder. Get them all out!

Because of my inability to effectively disclose my thoughts, my mom suggested that I start a journal to record my insecurities and concerns about food. I would write how I was feeling, usually after mealtimes, and my mom would read what I had written at the end of each day. Afterwards, we would meet, and she would verbally encourage me and challenge specific thoughts that I had had.

Obviously, this method may not work for everybody, but I highly recommend that you try it. Keep a journal, and scribble out your thoughts about food. Begin a list of fear foods to tackle. Think of restaurants or specific meals you’d like to try. Research combative bible verses and add these to your notebook. It shouldn’t be overly complicated or complex.

Whether it be your mom, dad, aunt, or a grandparent, allow a trusted adult to read your journal! This could be scary for some, but it is so, so important to get your thoughts into the open. When you permit somebody to read what you have written, you are no longer fighting on your own. You are enabling another individual to join the fight!

If Anorexia thrives on secrecy, do not do things in secret. If she prospers on isolation, do not isolate yourself.

Speaking from past experience, your eating disorder will keep you from thinking rationally, so much so that you may not even realize it. For that reason, it’s so critical that you bring a reliable adult into it – someone who can speak truth into your life. Someone who can sensibly and logically make decisions about food.

The darkness will flee from the light. Therefore, bring your eating disorder out into the light! When you do, it will become much easier to fight. Pick up your sword, and activate your armor. Recovery is worth it, my dear. I promise.

– Taylor

Hunger and Full

During anorexia, I was very familiar with the feeling of Hunger. We had grown rather close over the years. Hunger spoke to me through the low rumblings that seemed to echo through my hollow stomach. I saw Hunger in the pair of gaunt, sunken eyes in the mirror. She spoke to me in the mornings and at noon and throughout the afternoon and evening. Though not the best of friends, we were in constant communication, me and Hunger.

I enjoyed the feeling of Hunger and her presence. I enjoyed the satisfactory sensations that accompanied Hunger, the knowledge that I was being “good.” In a way, I felt superior to others because of my bond with Hunger. I was self-controlled when it came to eating, something I took great pride in. Hunger promised a long, healthy life. She assured me that I was doing the right thing. I was not a greedy, gluttonous pig. I was not overly concerned with food.

All the while, I hated the feeling of Hunger and her presence. I hated the feeling of void inside me. I hated denying myself food, my ravenous belly pleading to be occupied. I hated the dry skin and lack of warmth that followed Hunger. I hated her with a passion, and still do, to this day.

Yet as much as I loved Hunger, I loved Full more. Full reminded me of fun times spent around the dinner table with loved ones. Full brought color to my cheeks and new flesh to my frail hands. Full went to bed content, knowing that all of His needs had been met. Full didn’t ask for more.

Still, I hated Full. It seemed like a weakness to experience Full. He brought bloat and discomfort. Full caused me to part with Hunger. He told me that I was inadequate and too easily given to the feelings of Hunger, being unable to restrain myself from eating. Full made me feel bad about my decision making skills in regards to food. He made me think that I was incapable of controlling myself, which would only lead to excessive weight gain and unhappiness.

While suffering with an eating disorder, there’s always this constant battle between Hunger and Full. The slightest bits of food were enough for Full. It didn’t take much to please him. But in the same way, Hunger was even easier to entertain. She asked for nothing – literally, nothing. The majority of the time, Hunger won, but only because her voice was louder. Full too was tempting, just not as much.

Now that I am on the recovered side of things, I would choose Full over Hunger any and every day of the week. I now realize that the personalities of Hunger and Full were dramatically exaggerated in my head, likely a result of malnutrition.

Hunger was never my friend. Her promises of a healthful life were empty – almost as empty and bare as my stomach at the time. And contrary to what she told me, I was beyond overly concerned with food. Food had become my obsession, my infatuation, my hobby. It was my every thought and decision. My unhealthy delight in food was hindering me from living a pleasurable life.

Also, Full wasn’t as bad as my eating disorder made him out to be. Full was not my weakness or my enemy. In fact, he helped me to heal. He distanced me from Hunger, but never with bad intentions at heart. He only wanted the best for me, which was to truly live a long and healthy life.

In order to leave your eating disorder behind, you have to run from Hunger. She won’t help you. Run from Hunger, and run to Full. He will gladly welcome you, if only you’ll accept him. Sure, there may be pain and slight discomforts involved, but only because you’ve grown too accustomed to Hunger. Full has been long awaiting your arrival.

Just know that there is a difference between feeling Fat and feeling Full – a big difference. Too many times did I convince myself after meals that I felt Fat, as if “Fat” is a feeling. Fat and Full are not the same thing. As a matter of fact, Full does not like to be mistaken for Fat, his false identity. They are in no way related and do not correspond with each other.

Full is good. Embrace him. He wishes you a wonderful life beyond an eating disorder. But first, you must discontinue the toxic relationship you share with Hunger.

– Taylor