Rooted Roundups: Holidays and Eating Disorders

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While there is never an easy time to suffer from an eating disorder or body image issues, the holiday season is undoubtedly one of the hardest. The increased parties, baked goods, and holiday dinners can add to the already overwhelming stress of a student with a broken relationship with food and their body. 

At Rooted, we hope to equip youth ministers and parents with resources to help love and care for their students who suffer from eating disorders during the Thanksgiving and Christmas season. May these articles help point us all to Jesus, the only source of true satisfaction and the one who longs to free them from the bonds of disordered relationships with food and their bodies. 

For Youth Ministers: 

  1. “Eating Disorders and the Holidays”- Rebecca Hatton: “Your identity is secured in the blood of the lamb, not your size. Your worth was proven when he went to Calvary for you, not when you look a certain way. Your value is in his sacrifice, and it never lessens because it is not dependent on you. Rest in that this holiday season.” 
  2. “Grace in My Eating Disorder”- Martha Kate Stainsby: “Because Grace is bigger than my flaws. Grace is bigger than my mistakes. Grace is bigger than my guilt. And Grace is so much bigger than my shame. In fact, it washes all of those things away and says: “You are loved, you are fearfully and wonderfully made, and your worth is not in your outward appearance. I don’t love you because of what you have or haven’t done. I love you because I have chosen to love you.”
  3. What a Teen Struggling With an Eating Disorder Needs from Her Youth Minister”- Rebecca Hatton: “Your student doesn’t have a food problem, but a heart problem, and they’re in good company, because we all do. We all need Jesus, so point your student to the foot of the cross.” 
  4. “What the Gospel Says to Teens About Food and Body Image”- Rebecca Lankford: “As much as diet culture will tell them otherwise, there is no condemnation for them in Jesus Christ… And in Him, our students can find the freedom to experience the full enjoyment of food and their bodies. Despite the growing force of diet culture, the Holy Spirit grants us the strength to stand firm, speak Truth, and to encourage our students to “taste and see that The Lord is good.””
  5. “What I Would Say to a Student Struggling With Body Image”- Liz Edrington: “In a culture that regularly sexualizes and commodifies women’s bodies, especially, we need a different story. We need the Truest Story, which begins with the dignity of being made as image-bearers and ends with the resurrection of our bodies in glorious form. We need the hope and redemption that Jesus brings as he draws near to those with broken bodies and broken perceptions of their bodies. We need redeemed eyes, through Christ, to see the beauty of imago dei in our students and ourselves beyond the world’s fleeting and sorely-lacking definition of beauty.

For Parents: 

  1. Ask Alice Podcast: Boys and Eating Disorders: Licensed professional counselor Alice Churnock recorded this podcast episode immediately after National Eating Disorder Awareness Week. In it, she discusses a variety of eating disorders, how males are uniquely impacted by eating disorders, and how the gospel offers good news to those who experience eating disorders.
  2. Taste and See: a Recipe for Trusting God With Our Family’s Diet- Mellissa Powell: “ My eating as a Christian is not aimed towards a particular body size, absence of nutrition-related chronic disease, or zero food waste; rather, I live and eat to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.”
  3. A Nutrient-Dense Theology of Food for Families- Mellissa Powell: “Food is a type or shadow of Jesus for us, and we can taste and see that the Lord is good because we have tasted good food (Ps. 34:8). In the same way, we are God’s good idea and all of our stories are filled with God’s goodness and love from beginning to end.”
  4. Ask Alice: Fostering Healthy Relationships With Food In Our Children: Listen and be encouraged as Alice Churnock speaks with Suzanne Pirkle, licensed dietitian and nutritional counselor, discuss the importance of fostering healthy relationships with food in our children. Suzanne and Alice give practical advice on staying neutral when discussing food as well as debunk the glorifying and demonization of certain food groups. They also share practical advice on raising a child to grow in their relationship with food in a healthy manner.
  5. When Your Child Has an Eating Disorder: A Story for Parents- Mary Beth Johnston: “[My parents] helped me through it the best way they knew how, but the reality was that they couldn’t be the ones to heal what was broken. They could never rescue me in the way that I needed. My healer was always and will always be Jesus. He is the one who had to reach down and pull me out of the darkness and into the light, the one who gives me a firm place to stand, my rock and my redeemer. “
  6. Prayers for the Worried Parent- Anna Harris– Father, I will be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, I am making my requests known to you. I will rely on your peace, which passes all understanding, to keep guard over my heart and mind through Christ Jesus. Father, keep me in your perfect peace because my mind is firmly fixed on you. Help me trust you forever, for in you is everlasting strength. (Philippians 4:6-7, Isaiah 26: 3-4)
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