I primarily work with collegiate athletes on a Christian campus and I deeply empathize with how difficult it can be to protect your recovery journey while on campus or away at school. Today I want to discuss a few strategies that I have witnessed to be helpful with many of my clients in protecting themselves and their recovery.
Community marks the Church (Acts 2:42-47). It makes us different and spurs us on. From early on we learn to edify each other and point others to Jesus. If we aren’t in community and people don’t know our struggles (including those with food, body, and exercise) then how can they point us to Jesus? Now, I know that there can be a lot of baggage here BUT if we give up on community, we are forfeiting an opportunity for the Holy Spirit to work through other believers on our behalf (Ephesians 4:4).
Find a local church and get plugged in if you’re not already. Have a safe group of friends on campus with you that know your struggles and your recovery journey. Be specific in what you need from them and when you need it. Protect meal times by scheduling meals with those friends and make sure they know how to support you. Let them see you exercise or move, let them see you eat, let them into your world so that they can hold you accountable, point you to Christ, and ultimately be a source of comfort to you as you choose everyday the recovery road.
Spiritual disciplines like prayer and studying Scripture are crucial to recovery. There will be many days where it feels like a slog and maybe doesn’t even feel worth it, but trust me: if we believe that the Word of God is living and active (Hebrews 4:12-13), then it is worth it. It’s a worthy investment of our time and effort.
Spiritual disciplines help shape our mindset, our focus, and our perspective to the things that God wants them to be. It protects us from the world and from the eating disorder voice. If we are constantly reminded that the work of recovery is good, that God is with us, that God finishes the good work he starts, then we are much more likely to continue the tough road of recovery!
Everyone in recovery learns to set strong boundaries. Boundaries with themselves and with others. We have to know our limits in order to flourish. If you know that not going to lunch with your peer group will give you the perfect opportunity to restrict or binge, then create a boundary to keep that lunch date. If you know that you’re not quite ready for a church potluck, then create a boundary for now and invite one friend to sit and eat with you on campus. Know your limits so that you can one day grow and expand!
Boundaries with your body are equally important. You need to have strong boundaries around movement and food. Your body needs time to recover and replenish. Depending on how your eating disorder voice presents itself, it may be necessary to impart strong boundaries and accountability around the workout room, the cafeteria, your dorm room, etc. Don’t allow yourself to be isolated and to withdraw because that is typically when the eating disorder voice gets louder and louder and clouds your judgment.
The road to recovery is possible and worth it. My hope and prayer is that these tips will help you protect your mind and body as you navigate the narrow but very worthy road. As you do so, continue to remind yourself that God is near and He works all things for His glory and your good. Keep persevering through the Spirit, your life is worth it!
Top Resources for ED Recovery as a Christian
Joy-Filled Eater Podcast with Brittany Braswell
Body BLoved Bible study
Gratefully Nourished Podcast with Alyssa Pike
The Joyful Health Show Podcast
Compared to Who? By Heather Creekmore
@gracerootednutrition on Instagram
Peace with Food app
Find Freedom from Diets By Grace Course
Intuitive Eating for Christian Women Podcast
Christa is a Registered Dietitian who recently received her Diploma in Sports Nutrition from the International Olympic Committee. She has spent many supervised hours learning about eating disorders and the impact they have. She has worked with many athletes and individuals recovering from eating disorders and primarily focuses on Christian athletes in her private practice, Christa Smith Nutrition. You can find her on Instagram @christasmithnutrition and her blog at gracelacedwellness.com