Resource For Loved Ones Struggling With Eating Disorders

Eating disorders don’t take a holiday. {Image credit: elenathewise / 123RF Stock Photo}

Of all the topics during the holidays, food (a.k.a. calories) can be one of the most stressful. For those struggling with eating disorders, and the people who love them, that stress can be overwhelming.

Today, I’m grateful to be able to introduce you to my guest, Tracy Steel. We met at She Speaks last summer and her own story of eating struggles as a ballerina—and the creation of her young women’s Bible study about eating and body image—instantly touched my heart. May it support you as you love friends, sisters, neighbors or daughters who struggle with eating disorders.

Q: Tracy, thank you for being here. Please tell us a little about you.

From the time I took my first steps, I never stopped talking or slowed down enough to sit still. What can I say? I am just a slightly extroverted woman from the Midwest who loves people and the God who made them.

My days are filled with loving on my husband Chad, and chasing after my children, Jackson (3) and Katie (2).

On most days, I am lucky to shower and to locate my car keys. But in the middle of young mommy chaos, I love to encourage women of all ages through my writing and speaking ministry, One Degree.

Since before marriage and babies, I’ve been head and heart deep in youth ministry. I love helping young women discover the truths of God’s Word and mentoring them, whether at Starbucks, conferences, or on mission trips. In 2006, I created a special tool just for them: the Images of His Beauty Bible study.

Q: What’s the story behind the Images of His Beauty Bible study?

It shocked me one day in a sanctuary of teens when a young woman asked for prayer about her eating. By the time she finished sharing her struggle–and bringing tears to so many of the other girls’ eyes–I realized it had been naïve to think only non-believers struggled with eating disorders (EDs). Young Christian women can and do suffer from eating disorders, too.

In years that followed, more and more students sought help for anorexia or bulimia. I listened to them, saw their tears. I could relate to them since I was a ballerina for many years, and had struggled with disordered eating behaviors, too.

A Christian counselor at our church provided support for them, but the girls wanted more. They needed resources to overcome and recover from their eating disorders. As I prayed about how I could help, God placed Images of His Beauty on my heart. In the months that followed, I collaborated with that same Christian counselor to create this 10 week Bible study focused on a young woman’s true identity, ability to overcome and heal through Jesus Christ, and unique God-given beauty.

Q: What do you most hope readers will glean from the study?

There are countless sources that focus on what EDs are and how to treat them.

Young women with EDs already know that they are struggling and harming themselves. What they need is a resource to point them back to their Creator, and the value He’s placed in them.

I long for these precious girls to grasp that they are not “a girl with an eating disorder”—they are a child of God, forgiven and loved. I want them to embrace the truths of the Bible that teach that:

  • God sees their pain and that He loves them.
  • God gives them true beauty, purpose, and worth simply because they are His daughters.
  • God desires for them to use their beauty to make a difference in the world around them (instead of be trapped by it).

Q: As a mom of daughters, what signs do I need to watch for?

Here’s a partial list.

  • Consistent trips to the bathroom after meal times
  • Compulsive desire to exercise
  • Hoarding large amounts of food
  • Increased use of laxatives or diet pills
  • Preoccupation with food and calories
  • Intense fear of gaining weight
  • Mood swings, depression, fatigue

The links below also provide further information:

Also, if I may add this in love: our daughters will notice how WE see ourselves. Are you consumed with talking about your body, over exercising, counting calories etc.? Let’s pray for God to help us all remember that we are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14), and ask the Holy Spirit to help us care for our own bodies in a way that glorifies God!

Q: If you could give a bit of advice to any of us who know someone struggling with an ED, what would it be?

In the book of Acts we are introduced to the Apostle Paul’s companion, Barnabus. The name Barnabus means: son of encouragement. My one bit of advice is to be a Barnabus. Encourage your friend or family member by praying, listening, and walking with them. Being faithful, and consistently loving and believing in them as they go through treatment is a HUGE blessing to those who struggle.

For more support ideas, visit the Avalon Hills or Remuda Ranch family resource pages.

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GIVEAWAY OFFER: Enter to win a copy of Tracy’s Bible study, Images of His Beauty by commenting with your questions or stories here or at Facebook’s Moms Together by 11 p.m. PT December 4th.

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Tracy Steel is proudly married to Chad, a pilot in the US Air Force.  She loves to drink green tea, watch re-runs of LOST, and chase their two children, Jackson (3) and Katherine (2), throughout their toy-infested home.  A graduate of Phoenix Seminary in 2005, Tracy served as the Director of Student Women at Scottsdale Bible Church from 2005-2007. You can find out more information about her Images of His Beauty Bible study and follow her blog at One Degree Ministries. You can also connect with her on Facebook or on twitter.

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  • Tracy Steel

    Thank you Laurie for allowing me to share the message that God has laid on my heart. I am so glad God crossed our paths this summer at SS. God bless!

  • Eileen

    Great interview and such a huge problem with young girls. I struggled with an eating disorder in high school. It was my way of trying to control things I had no control over. Food & exercise was what I could control… or so I thought.

    • Tracy Steel

      Eileen-thank you for your honesty and for sharing your story with us. EDs are often about the issue of control, and not the food itself! May I ask what or who has helped you to heal from your ED?