Eating Disorders

Eating Disorder Recovery and Lent: Survival Tips

Eating Disorder Recovery and Lent: Survival Tips | Libero Magazine

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They are hanging on bulletin boards, in your mailbox, all over social media: signs and flyers urging you to restrict your intake to nothing or to a few food groups. Everywhere you turn, people are talking about what foods they are giving up and at times insinuating they are more moral for doing so.

The thing is, you aren’t in a crazy weight-loss clinic. You are in your church, on your religious college campus, interacting with your religious friends.

Whether you are religious or not, as the season of lent comes upon us you are likely to experience an increase in eating disorder triggers. But with the right preparation, you can wade through this triggering season without losing the progress we have made.

The first step is choosing not to fast, and understanding why you have chosen not to.

The key is understanding a critical principle in eating disorder recovery: just because something can be done doesn’t mean it should to be done, and just because you choose not to do something doesn’t mean you are too weak to be able to do it. Or as the Bible puts it in 1 Corinthians 6:12 “You say, ‘I am allowed to do anything’–but not everything is good for you. And even though ‘I am allowed to do anything’, I must not become a slave to anything.”

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It is very difficult to deal with the feeling that others, or even God, are judging you as undisciplined and un-spiritual. But the Bible makes it very clear fasting is a personal decision to be made solely for the purpose of obeying God, and if you have had a history of making food an “ultimate thing”, it is blatant disobedience to return to putting God second in your life in the name of spiritual discipline.

Use this time to refocus on living your life based on God’s standards rather than on the opinions of those around you. And practice not feeling obligated to explain yourself to others–particularly when it comes to religious matters.

The second step is to avoid triggers to the best of your ability.

Since fasting is meant to be a personal, private decision, in an ideal world it would not be talked about, publicized and pushed on others. But a few days into lent it becomes pretty obvious fasting often gets used as a form of self-glorification rather than God-glorification.

If you find somebody is triggering you with talk of fasting or with their eating habits, respectfully ask them to refrain from such topics when around you and avoid being with them during meal times.

Lastly, choose your own observance.

Just because you are choosing to avoid the classic lent observance of fasting from food doesn’t mean you have to avoid observing lent in general.

For me, a history of perfectionism and minimalism means I too easily fall into idolatry when I fast from anything, and thus I generally choose “additive” observances. For example, in past lent seasons I have added things like music that feeds my soul, daily biblical meditation and choosing a new life-verses to focus on.

I hope these steps can help you not just make it through the lent season this year, but also experience spiritual renewal and rejuvenation–Please let us know any of your “additive” lent ideas!

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Eating Disorder Recovery and Lent: Survival Tips | Libero

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Disclaimer:The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official views, beliefs, or opinions of Libero Network Society. In addition, any advice, tips, or recommendations made within this article should only be followed after consultation with a medical professional and/or your recovery team. Libero Network Society holds no liability for any potential harm, danger, or otherwise damage that may be caused by choosing to follow content from this article.

Elizabeth Geffers

Elizabeth holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology and is planning to work towards becoming a licensed clinical social worker. She hopes to work with people struggling with mental illness and their families, and she would love to write a book someday. Elizabeth feels blessed to have been surrounded with the support of her friends, family, and support forums during her personal journey with depression, and she is passionate about using her personal experiences and her psychology research and studies to bless people in the same way she was blessed. She hopes that as a contributor to Libero Magazine, she will be able to connect with and support her readers, and she hopes to provide very practical, easy to put into practice tips. When she is not writing, journaling, or blogging, she loves to spend time with her family and friends, do anything active outdoors, and volunteering at her church.


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  • I had a pastor who challenged us to add something that served others to our lives during Lent, whether it was an hour of volunteering, sending an encouraging letter/text/email, or a random act of kindness every day.

  • Thank you so much for this post. As someone recovering from an eating disorder, thinking about how Lent starts tomorrow made me feel guilty about deciding whether or not to fast. However, your post puts the Lenten season into perspective. Just because I’m not fasting doesn’t mean I’m less spiritual of a person. There are so many other things that can bring us closer to God.

    • I’m so glad God used it in your life! I have definitely struggled with this in the past and I love seeing 2 Corinthians 1 in action: God will comfort us in our struggles and use them to help us comfort others going through the same thing!

  • Being a Catholic, I’m pinning at least 40 pins about nice things about my body and why I train it just because it feels good and it enables me to celebrate my own body rather than, say, obtain a stereotypical (yes, I said stereotypical) Brazilian buttocks through squats. f I were to suggest what to give up for Lent (we’re 7 days into it, BTW), it would be fat talk. Whether directed towards self or in the form of fitspiration/thinspiration, I would suggest they’d go 40-47 days without it. Lent is about getting closer to and worshiping God, not worshiping thin ideals, even if the ideals include toned limbs, thigh gaps, bubble butts, and six-pack abs.

    • Tiffany, I love that! Giving up Fat talk is a great way to start telling God we love how he created us!