By Valerie Minard
Last year, France took the lead in efforts to curb eating disorders and promote healthier body images among young women by passing what is known as the “skinny model law.” The law requires doctor verification of whether a model is too thin given her age, body weight or shape, and the law penalizes pro-anorexia websites. Ads retouched to make a model look thinner or heavier require labeling.
In the United States, 69% of elementary school girls say that the pictures in magazines influence their idea of the ideal body shape. This may be one factor why 20 million women and 10 million men suffer from an eating disorder. As in France, these stats show how culture and media influence a person’s self image with the subtle message that they are not attractive enough.
To remedy this, some experts recommend medical care and monitoring, nutritional counseling, medication, or joining a support group like a 12-step program. But the dropout rate is high for most of these programs. Others have found that a spiritual approach can bring complete and permanent healing.
That’s what happened to one young woman we’ll call Jane (who asked to be anonymous). During her college years Jane gained about 20 pounds and became self-conscious and worried about it. Believing she was unable to control her eating, she continued to gain weight. She started to purge her food in order to keep her weight down, but soon found she was too sore to get out of bed and started missing classes.
Eventually, she joined a support group. “The group was well-intentioned….” said Jane. [But] “the counselor who led the group told us that we would probably never be totally free of the problem. This was pretty discouraging news; I could not imagine being enslaved by this difficulty the rest of my life.”
Up to her teens, Jane had attended a Christian Science Sunday School. So after graduating from college, she decided to see a Christian Science practitioner. They talked about how she was the dearly loved child of God–totally controlled and governed by divine intelligence. As God’s child, her birthright was to express God’s orderly government.
The following weekend, alone and frightened, Jane was tempted to binge and purge. Instead she called the practitioner, who assured her she could only be controlled by God, and they prayed together. When she hung up, all temptation to binge and purge was gone and Jane was completely healed. Within a month, her weight returned to normal and the problem never returned.
If you are struggling with an eating disorder, don’t despair. A spiritual approach can give you dominion over feeling that your eating is out of control, as it did Jane. As a child of God, it’s your heritage to stand up to self-destructive habits. Christian theologian and author, Mary Baker Eddy, gives this encouraging advice: “Rise in the strength of Spirit to resist all that is unlike good. God has made man capable of this, and nothing can vitiate the ability and power divinely bestowed on man.”
Valerie Minard writes regularly on the connection between consciousness, spirituality, and health. She is a Christian Science practitioner and the media and legislative spokesperson for Christian Science in New Jersey.