This episode is a flashback of one of our top-viewed sessions in our 2021 Church Mental health summit with Isabel Garza.
WHO IS ISABEL GARZA?
Isabel is a Registered Dietitian and owner of Woman Wise Nutrition.
She helps women who struggle with hormone dysfunctions and disordered eating learn how to stop fighting food and start nourishing their bodies with confidence and clarity. Isabel strives to empower women with a deeper understanding of their health so that they can ultimately live their life of purpose.
Isabel offers great resources, and I really enjoy her Instagram feed as it offers an alternative view of healthy eating that is so refreshing compared to many of the channels that push different diets, supplements, or exercises that have unrealistic promises.
WHAT LED TO THIS EPISODE?
I try to offer a balance of episodes that support you as a caregiver as well as equip you to care for others well and this episode could fall into both of those categories.
There are many people, almost 30 million in the US alone who struggle with disordered eating. So, there is a good chance you will connect with someone with these struggles.
But you will often hear me say things like “leaders are people too” and “as caregivers, we are part of the community we are caring for.” Essentially saying that just because we help others doesn’t mean our lives are perfect.
As supporters, we too have struggles and a common struggle among caregivers is around body image and disordered eating.
It is common for helpers to struggle with food, body image, and all the control and emotions that come with that.
In her session, Isabel shares that the fastest-growing group of people being diagnosed with eating disorders are middle-aged women, and less than 6% are considered underweight this is a silent struggle for so many people. This is why I wanted to reshare Isabel’s session from the 2021 Church Mental health Summit.
In her session, Isabel invites you to explore a new way of approaching your mental, emotional, and physical health that may be counter to what society is teaching and you will be able to identify and challenge harmful beliefs that are misaligned with God’s truth while discovering the innate wisdom of your bodies.
FEAR AMONGST WOMEN WHEN IT COMES TO BODY IMAGE
From a young age, women are taught to fear their bodies due to society standards and this can lead to eating disorders.
Women are constantly bombarded with messages about their bodies and how they are supposed to look in a certain shape from your social media feed to weight loss.
All these messages are saying one thing, you are not enough and if left unchecked the feeling of not being enough can grow into our minds and bodies.
This feeling can having you believing that if you are not thin, you are not happy and references like “I don’t like my body.”
Body shame is one of the most isideneous epidemics of Stockholm syndrome that is affecting majority of the population in the world.
ISABEL’S EXPERIENCE WITH BODY SHAME
In the 5th grade, she recalls wearing her favorite pink shirt and track pants. This particular outfit gave her a little step in her bust however it was still an amazing outfit
As she maneuvered around the playground, she heard a girl from her class come up to her and point saying “ Eww gross you are not wearing a bra.”
On arrival home, Isabel rushed home to her older sister’s room to look for something to cover up her chest.
This was the first time she felt bad about her body and a long history of shame.
Have you experienced this before? Take time to think about if you have gone through this before.
Much as this may be the norm, this isn’t how things are supposed to be and we have to recognize that there is something wrong here and we have to make change.
HOW DID GOD DESIGN OUR BODIES
The Bible quotes in 1st Corinthians 6 that the body is described as a dwelling place and in Psalms 39 it is declared to be beautifully and wonderfully made.
Throughout the Bible, we see that God designed our bodies to be more than to be as small as possible.
While we are busy loathing our bodies, God’s creative design is present in every cell in our bodies.
HOW ABOUT CRAVINGS?
Cravings are not a bad thing, this is a sign of our bodies requesting something and rather than thinking about how to get rid of the cravings, one’s perspective should be what are my cravings telling me?
This is because God designed our bodies so that they are always trying to do the best thing for us.
WHAT DOES SCIENCE SAY?
When we eat less or overexercise or deprioritize our bodies, they become severely depleted of essential nutrients, and maintaining them without adequate rest affects it.
This is poor nutrition and can lead to swings and blood sugar and lead to a metabolic dysfunction called insulin resistance.
Now insulin resistance happens when the cells lose some of their ability to be opened by insulin so they can’t access or use as much glucose that’s in the blood floating around and deemed useless.
The result is that your body cells get starved for energy and starving cells then send the brain an SOS signal urgently requesting more nutrients so that they can function optimally, we experience these SOS signals as cravings.
This is one example of a system God created in our bodies that is meant to serve you when you are experiencing undesirable symptoms, cravings, weight gain, energy crashes or hormone imbalances. These are all purposeful signals used by the body.
God made our bodies to guide us and help us feel our best so why are we working so hard against his design?
OVER SPIRITUALIZING OUR ISSUES WITH FOOD IN OUR BODIES
Are you struggling with coping with your body and the fact that the Bible says our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit yet you cannot stop binge eating?
You feel like a sinner for not following through with God’s word. My friend, you are not alone.
Isabel quotes that women in their 40s and 50s are ashamed and believe they should be doing better.
They say things like, I know better, why can’t I do what I know I should do most every day and I know I shouldn’t be seeking food for comfort.
The truth is, the spiritual is part of these issues but they’re not only spiritual, but they also are real physiological and psychological systems involved and as Christians, we need to be very careful not to confuse symptoms with sin.
Disordered eating behaviors and diagnose eating disorders have both psychiatric and physiological influences and over-spiritualizing these conditions creates unnecessary shame and isolation rather than healing and transformation.
EATING DISORDERS ARE MORE THAN SPIRITUAL
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 66% of people living with eating disorders suffer from a mood disorder.
As you can see the challenges we experienced with food and our bodies are complex, and can’t be fixed with an inspirational spiritual quote. Romans 8: 28 says, God works for the good in all things.
Yes, that means scripture but that also means doctors, therapists, caseworkers, nutritionists, and your community. God has arranged for you to be here today it is not a coincidence.
He is so generously making resources available to you so that you can be better equipped to navigate the struggles you may be facing with food and your body, you are not alone do not need to suffer in silence.
HOW DO WE MAKE CHANGES?
- Do some mental work and analyze the false narratives you have about your heart
- Rewrite your story, you have the power to transform your perspective with your body
- Commit to becoming the expert on your own body
CONNECT WITH ISABEL GARZA
CONNECT WITH HOPE MADE STRONG