Are Eating Disorders Biological?

We are looking at the behaviors known as Eating Disorders this week.  Yesterday we examined some of the commonalities between Anorexia, Bulimia, and over eating. My parting statement was of the universal nature of the heart being bent towards "self" in those who struggle with any of these behaviors.

I thought it worthy to mention a few other issues that are a part of these behaviors that go to the heart of the problem. If you are trying to help someone who is currently indulging in these behaviors one thing you need to know is the powerful role deception plays in all of these eating disorders.

Lying by saying that they ate, or didn't eat, ate enough, or not too much. Lying about not throwing up or exercising for hours a day (or night), lying about how many pieces of pie or chicken, how many calories ingested in a single setting...and the list goes on and on.

Sin hates exposure and this is part of the reason for the lies. The other reason may be the person just does not want to stop the behavior enough to do so! There is a pay-off someplace in their actions and that pay-off is what keeps them coming back for more torture. The thin get thinner, the control freak maintains control, and the over weight over eater medicates their emotions.

What is missing from this rosy picture is the incredible sorrow without hope that coincides with eating disorder behavior. On some level, they believe there is no hope for change, that things have gone too far to turn back.  Especially in the over eating person. These folks have often put on and taken off literally hundreds of pounds through dieting and controlled eating. Despite all the best intentions they have at the outset of the latest diet they soon find themselves back at the same place, or worse.

The bulimic wants to please those in her life that are unhappy about her behavior, but she struggles now to control it! The anorectic has a driving desire to be thin enough to disappear... what they once controlled is now in essence controlling them.

When these behaviors are considered "diseases" or "illnesses" the personal responsibility is removed from them. It is easy to blame biology or genetics for attitudes and behaviors but not only is there no proof of such things, but it steals all the hope out of recovering.

The world has a very different view of these behaviors than biblical counselors do. Secular counselors want to make some leap to biology as the cause of these destructive habits. They want to look to your brain chemicals for an explanation. But, this quickly becomes a slippery slope as there is no medical proof, no biological markers to prove there is an initial medical sending unit to the brain telling a person not to eat, or to eat too much, to exercise until their heart explodes in your chest or to vomit until their esophagus is torn in two. There is no proof in science or medicine for proof of those theories and that is really, really good news!

If it isn't biological then what exactly is it?  More tomorrow.