La Madeline in a jar welcomes Fall in Texas, ya’ll. Thanking God today, that I’m in a place where I can enjoy every bite…
We all know at least one person who we are scared for when it comes to asking the question posted in today’s title.
Some of us are raising our own sparkly-eyed flesh and blood, fearful that the things she has said about her beautiful-forming body are predictors of what she will grow up believing about herself.
Some of us play tennis with that momma whose thighs don’t have a chance of touching one another, not even in the closest of squeeze-ins on the couch during family movie night.
Some of us walk alongside similar aged family members or best girl friends who constantly obsess over their own meal selections and those of their children in a race to win the award for “Healthiest Woman of the Year.” Potato chips are sworn off for good, left on the grocery aisle for only the most gluttonous shoppers.
Some of us look in the mirror and see it looking right back at us — the reflection that screams you’ll never be quite right. Not thin enough, not toned enough, not pretty enough to get the recognition that you think will make you whole. Or make you better. Or make you beautiful.
So, here’s a few things to look for if you’re suspecting that you’re in good company of someone who is: 1) showing signs of an eating disorder or 2) someone who is struggling with body image to a point that it is negatively affecting her relationships.
Signs of an Eating Disorder (especially in adolescents) :
- Food Restriction — For that girl who has cut out sweets and fattening dairy products and most meats and a number of things she claims as unhealthy, be aware. She is restricting her food choices in an effort to over-control her diet. The bigger question: What is so out of control right now that she is seeking to control everything that makes it to her plate?
- Food Cravings — For that girl who loves salad. I mean, she just “craves salad.” And she loves things like low-fat cottage cheese and her no-carb/low-carb diet. She craves all things raw-veggie related (because butter on those veggies is dan-ger-ous!). Did I say that she craves salad? The bigger question: What is so out of control right now that she is seeking to control everything that makes it to her plate?
- Food-induced pain — For that girl who just can’t eat very much EVER because it makes her stomach hurt. If her stomach has shrunk over time, to the point that her digestive system can’t handle barely enough to feed a bird (and you know what I mean by that), then she is going to have food-related pain. If food allergies are not in the mix, then something else is! The bigger question: What is so out of control right now that she is seeking to control everything that makes it to her plate?
- Food Deprivation paired with Over Exercise — A normal female (teenage or adults), on average, needs at least 1600 calories p/day unless a doctor has prescribed differently for other medical/health needs. On top of that, exercise, which burns calories, requires we replenish our bodies with additional calories. If your girl is barely eating and exercising often (again, you know what that looks like if you know her habits), then there is likely a bigger issue at hand. The bigger question: What is so out of control right now that she is seeking to control everything that makes it to her plate?
- Food (Calorie) Counting — Logging calories is an activity that is common for girls/women who are struggling with eating disorders. Over time, it drives what she can or cannot eat in a day. The bigger question: What is so out of control right now that she is seeking to control everything that makes it to her plate?:
Signs that Body Image is Negatively Affecting Relationships (side-note for adult women) —
If any of the above symptoms resonate with you, then you might want to spend some time thinking through how much any one of these factors affects your daily thought patterns. I’m just sayin’: If you are struggling with body image, it is something that, the sooner you own it, the sooner you get to sift through its ramifications. How you speak about food, how you think about food, how you suppress thoughts about food — all of these responses say something about how you deal with hunger.
Physically and spiritually.
And hunger comes to us in the most raw and fleshy form. If you are denying your body in an attempt to idolize its physical form, then body image is enslaving you. It is getting in the way of pursuing freedom and joy. And it is getting in the way of your relationships with the people you love, who desperately want to enjoy you in the freedom God intends for His people.
So there’s that. How’s that for starting off your weekend ?
But, seriously, let’s engage in the conversation. It’s time.
Next week, this space will host an interview with my trusted friend and well-respected Dallas pediatrician, Dr. Sue Bacsik. Her initial insights and responses will help us think through how to approach our relationship with food and body in a refreshing and truthful way.