Eating Disorders In Women From The Christian Point Of View Essay

Length: 12 pages Sources: 12 Subject: Health Type: Essay Paper: #94830349
Excerpt from Essay :


Eating disorders are the number one cause of mortality among mental disorders. A significant portion of women in America suffer from eating disorders. This paper describes these disorders and identifies common, practical and theoretical approaches to eating disorders that are used by counselors, therapists and care givers to help women overcome their struggles. It discusses some of the causes of these disorders. Finally, it identifies the how the Christian perspective and faith-based interventions can be used to help women obtain a better, healthier, more positive, and more realistic image of womanhood to help them deal with the social and peer pressures, the unhealthy emotions, and the mental afflictions that can cause them to develop eating disorders. This paper concludes with the affirmation that the Christian perspective on healing can be an effective approach to helping women who suffer from eating disorders.


I. Introduction

a. Key facts and statistics on eating disorders among women in the U.S.

b. Sources will include:

i. Le Grange et al. (2012), Smink et al. (2012), Gagne et al. (2012), Diemer et al. (2015), and ANAD (2018)

c. Thesis: Many strategies and treatments are available for treating women who suffer from eating disorders, but this paper will analyze the problem from the Christian perspective and provide a Bible-based, Christian approach to treatment for women who have an eating disorder.

II. Image of Woman

a. Culture in which these eating disorders are manifested:

i. Projects an unrealistic image of woman (Tavel, 2013; Bailey, 2010; Hruby & Hu, 2015; Cederstrom & Spicer, 2015; Unger, 2010)

ii. Distracts from the biblical message of womanhood (1 Tim 2:9-15).

iii. Eating disorders emanate from the pursuit of aims opposite to those recommended by Timothy

III. Disorders

a. Describes:

i. Anorexia, bulimia, binge eating, etc.

ii. Theoretical and practical approaches (Lundahl, Wahlstrom, Christ & Stoltenberg, 2015; Titelman, 2016)

iii. Treatments (Milano, De Rosa, Milano et al., 2013):

1. Counseling

2. Therapy

3. Pharmacological intervention

IV. Treatments from the Christian Perspective

a. The faith-based approach (Timberline Knolls, 2018)

b. Attachment to God can reduce risk of developing an eating disorder (Homan & Lemmon, 2014; Henderson & Ellison, 2015; Strenger, Schnitker & Felke, 2016)

c. John 14:6

d. 1 Cor 9:25

e. Eph 6:12

f. Prayerful assistance (Gilbert, 2014)

g. Helping those who want to use the faith-based approach

h. Helping those who do not want to use the faith-based approach

V. Conclusion

a. Eating disorders are the number one killer among mental disorders.

b. Women suffer in significant numbers from these disorders in the West

c. The Christian perspective can help them to overcome issues related to struggles to match an unrealistic body image by guiding them to the reality of womanhood according to the teachings of the Bible and the Christian tradition.


According to Le Grange, Swanson, Crow and Merikangas (2012) eating disorders impact approximately 30 million Americans every year. Moreover, of all known mental illnesses, eating disorders have the highest rate of mortality (Smink, Van Hoeken, & Hoek, 2012). For women of all ages, eating disorders are particularly problematic. Roughly 13% of women over the age of 50 exhibit some form of behavior associated with an eating disorder (Gagne, Von Holle, Brownley et al., 2012). 3.5% of college age women develop eating disorders (Diemer, Grant, Munn-Chernoff et al., 2015). Approximately 8% of women in the military have eating disorders, while nearly 1% of all women in the U.S. are anorexic at some point in their lives, according to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD, 2018). Approximately 1.5% of women are bulimic at some stage, and almost 3% of all American adults engage in binge eating (ANAD, 2018). In short, eating disorders are prevalent in the West and especially among women. Many strategies and treatments are available for treating women who suffer from eating disorders, but this paper will analyze the problem from the Christian perspective and provide a Bible-based, Christian approach to treatment for women who have an eating disorder.

The Image of Woman

In the West in the modern era, the image of woman has become erotically heightened and sexualized to an impossibly idealized extent, with female models posing as the emblems of fashion...

With the stigma of being fat and the threat of fat shaming weighing on the minds of many modern women (Bailey, 2010), along with the threat of obesity spreading at pandemic levels throughout the world (Hruby & Hu, 2015), some women can develop a mental obsession or disorder that causes them to swing too far in the opposite direction: instead of risking becoming obese, they risk becoming too thin or engage in behavior that reflects an evident eating disorder (Cederstrom & Spicer, 2015).

The unrealistic expectations placed upon women in the modern era, thanks to advertising and cultural norms propagated through the media (Unger, 2010), contrast sharply with the image of woman as presented in the Old and New Testaments as well as with the image of spiritual perfection as represented by Christ in the New Testament. Instead of focusing on virtues, principles, duties and vocation, women in the modern era are subjected to a barrage of images that convey to them the need to look a certain way in order to be respected and admired. The result is that women adopt unhealthy eating habits that are symptomatic of a mental disorder, associated with trying to fit into the hypersexualized, unrealistic body image of fabricated imaging promoted all over popular media.

1 Timothy 2:9-10 states “that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works.” This urgent call from Timothy to the early Christians gives the Biblical perspective on how women should see their actual image—not as ornaments to attract the “male gaze” but rather as focusing on “good works,” which are appropriate for godly women. And what are these good works that should be the focus of women? Timothy explicitly states that women “will be saved through childbearing, provided they continue in faith and love and holiness, with modesty” (1 Tim 2:15). In the modern era, women are pulled away from Timothy’s exhortation to women to grow in faith, love, holiness and modesty and to seek to become mothers: women are instead urged to put themselves alongside men (instead of in the kind of submissive role advocated by Timothy). As a result, they are conflicted. Instead of “eating for two” as the saying goes, they starve themselves to match the skinny, skimpy idealized models of modern womanhood; or they overeat in order to compensate for the depressed feelings that they experience in the wake of their pursuit of goals opposite to those identified by Timothy as the goals they should seek for themselves.

Types of Disorders

Eating disorders that are common in the West include: anorexia nervosa (weight loss or low weight gain characterized a person deliberately avoiding eating or taking in the necessary calories appropriate to the individual’s body mass index); bulimia nervosa (the disorder most often associated with consciousness of body image and the obsessive desire to lose weight; characterized by overeating, depression and self-induced vomiting, purging or fasting); binge eating disorder (characterized by prolonged periods of excessive eating due to emotional distress); purging disorder (characterized by routine self-induced purging or vomiting of food eaten earlier); night eating syndrome (characterized by the consumption of most of an individual’s calories after the dinner period and before the breakfast period—i.e., late at night or throughout the night); atypical anorexia (which is described as anorexia without having a low body weight), and low frequency bulimia (bulimia occurring at a lower rate than normal).

Practical Approaches to Understanding

Practical approaches to understanding eating disorders stem from various scientific backgrounds. The psychological approach focuses on the underlying or associated issues or feelings that typically accompany a woman’s eating disorder—such as feelings of anxiety, depression, isolation or low self-esteem. The behavioral approach focuses on activities that women with eating disorders tend to also display in conjunction with their eating disorder—such as a penchant for over- or compulsive exercising, using diuretics, or feeling a need to engage in eccentric food activities, such as baking sweets constantly or always wanting to cook for other people. A high degree of impulsivity is also found among women with eating disorders, according to the behavioral approach to the subject (Lundahl, Wahlstrom, Christ & Stoltenberg, 2015). There…

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