Food is one of our greatest sources of pleasure; however, for many women, it can also be a source of anxiety, guilt and shame. This week, we spoke with Megan Roosevelt, Founder and CEO of Healthy Grocery Girl, about her journey from struggling with an eating disorder to a becoming a health-loving foodie who works as a Registered Dietician and nutritionist.
4word: Why is healthy eating so important?
Megan: I have a lot of goals I want to accomplish. My body needs to be able to keep up! More importantly, if I don’t take care of my body, then I cannot accomplish everything God is calling me to do. God has a plan for each of us, and it’s our responsibility to live out our calling and show the love of Jesus through all we do. When I eat healthy, I am fueling my body to fulfill my purpose and passions.
4word: You have some experience with the flip side of eating healthy, right? Can you tell us more about your struggle with an eating disorder?
Megan: When I was in high school and college I struggled with anorexia, bulimia and abuse of laxatives. It was a depressing, scary and empty time in my life. Luckily I am completely healed from that disease, and I am a better person for what I have gone through. As a dietician, I am able to not only have sympathy, but empathy for others who are struggling with their health in this way.
My eating disorder started with an obsession with appearance and food, but as with most people who struggle with an eating disorder, food is not the root issue. Something is broken. We feel empty and hurt. We don’t know how to fix it, so we control one area in our life that we can: our eating. Yet this is a false promise of comfort, because the very thing we go to escape our brokenness is keeping us captive in the cycle of pain, guilt and shame.
Nutrition to me now has taken on a whole new meaning. I am definitely a foodie! But I love food now for all the good that is does for my body and spirit. I appreciate food and my body. I don’t abuse them.
When I hear a little voice say, “Your stomach looks fat,” or “Your thighs seem big today,” I replace that lie with the truth: I am beautifully and wonderfully made. I remind myself that glorifying God by living out my purpose is more important than a perfectly flat stomach.
4word: What helped you overcome your eating disorder?
Megan: When I was struggling with my eating disorder, I was very sensitive to the comments people made about my body. If they said I looked skinny, that made me uncomfortable. If they said I looked “healthy,” I interpreted that as looking fat. And comments like, “You should just eat more,” were not helpful.
During that season of my life, I did have one friend around whom I always felt comfortable, because I never felt that she was judging me. I could open up to her and talk about what I was struggling with in my heart. In addition to my faith, that was the most helpful in my healing process.
4word: For women who are struggling with an eating disorder or have friends who are, what advice can you offer about learning to see food and their bodies in a healthy way again?
Megan: Get to know the person and focus on her, not her disease and not her actions. The eating disorder is a coping mechanism for a broken person. Love, accept, listen to and encourage her. Focus on her positive qualities, qualities that have nothing to do with her body, because those with eating disorders often only see the negative in themselves.
It is ultimately the individual’s battle to overcome, and your role as a friend and family member is to love her. Just love her. Of course if she is in serious danger, this may require tough love, in the form of an intervention or taking her to the hospital.
Mothers, I would also look at how you view your body and the words you use regarding food, dieting and your appearance. You are the best role model of what a healthy woman should look like to your daughter. You have an opportunity to teach her what it means to be a real woman – one who loves and accepts her body, who is passionate and driven to do great things and who is confident in her identity in Christ. And remember that it is never, ever too late to start living a healthier life.
If you want to hear more from Megan, you can visit her blog. And stay tuned, because in two week’s, Megan will be back with some practical tips on how to eat healthy as a busy, working woman.