Question About Telling My Children (from Reader)

"Hi Marie,
Hope you're doing well. I was just pondering today and thought of you. I was wondering how you talk about the topic of eating disorders with your kids. More specifically, the fact that you had one. What age did you bring it up? What did you say? How exactly did you go about it - did you sit them down or talk about it more casually? Has your history of having an eating disorder affected your parenting? Look forward to hearing from you.

Hi L!

Huh. Good question. I don't specifically remember having any real conversations. When my book came out, Valentina and Miro read the first chapter, my testimony, but didn't have any particular comments. I guess they're just used to the idea that (like a lot of people who they would have heard sharing a testimony over the years) Mom has something in her past that, with God's help, she overcame. 

Valentina was the only one old enough to have any (even vague) memory of my ED - not that she would have been consciously aware exactly at the time, but since I was still buying and planning my days around out-of-control binges (while trying to hide it) when she was in Kindergarden, 1st grade.....it was making me more short-tempered and irritable, as well as exhausted and I'm sure that did affect her. But she has no conscious memory of either my bulimia or drinking problem. However, she has always had a sneaky side......hiding/lying about stuff (usually small stuff), and even at 17, waits until we are out of the room to sneak sweets out of the fridge. Which is ridiculous, given that we have never restricted any of them from having chocolate (or whatever); why hide it?? My husband once wondered if my past might have had anything to do with her inborn "sneaking", but I doubt it.

How has it effected my parenting overall......I would say, I don't repeat the same mistakes my mother did. I have never made an issue of weight with her, never used the word "calorie" in a sentence or passed on any food hang-ups in any way (probably because I no longer have them.) I'm more concerned, if anything, about all the GMO and junk in the American food supply than my kids getting fat (but not concerned enough to go organic....I'm far too cheap.) 

I hope that answers your question......I never really addressed it or made a bid deal out of it with them, but they've long known (probably because of my book.) However, telling my husband was another matter entirely and a very hard experience. See "Telling Someone" in my book. 

Hope that helps!


Review of "Redeemed from the Pit" on the Biblical Counseling Coalition

Redeemed from the Pit: Biblical Repentance And Restoration From The Bondage of Eating Disorders by Marie Notcheva

Redeemed from the Pit is a solid read for the biblical counselor who is looking to expand their understanding on this important topic and for anyone seeking to overcome an eating disorder or is ministering to someone who is enslaved to the lifestyle. The personal story victory and practical application of Gospel truth makes this a great resource.

In the Pit of Despair

As a biblical counselor and as a person who was once diagnosed with bulimorexia, I took on the challenge of reading Marie Notcheva’s book, Redeemed from the Pit: Biblical Repentance and Restoration from the Bondage of Eating Disorders book for both personal and professional reasons. I have had a love/hate relationship with food all my life. Like Marie, I once struggled with binging and purging and I alternated those behaviors with starvation.  
From the introduction to the end of the book, Marie makes it clear to the reader that eating disorders are not a physical disease from which a person recovers but a spiritual disease from which a person must repent. 
Marie’s personal story is weaved throughout this great book. She gives vivid details of how her early years provided the perfect mental and emotional set up for the development of her eating disorder. The culture of the late 1960’s and early 70’s that subjected women to consistent expectations of thinness and beauty fueled the fires of shame ignited by her family’s careless words about her weight and appearance. Her mother in particular (who appeared to struggle with her own food issues) was exceedingly fearful Marie would be overweight and suffer consequences to her health. She enrolled Marie in a toddler dance class to slim her down and restricted her access to sugar and starches.
At age 11, Marie began taking gymnastics. By 14, with gymnast Nadia Comaneci as her idol, she began a lifestyle of severe calorie restriction and over exercise. The highly competitive worlds of gymnastics and dance fueled her desire to become sylphlike. While she got the desired results through constant exercise and living on Slim-Fast and vegetables, the following year she determined to eat as much as she wanted, eliminating the food binge through vomiting.
In a very short amount of time, Marie’s binge/purge lifestyle was out of control. It was clear to everyone around her she needed help. Her health was in serious jeopardy. While referred to psychologists, psychiatrists, and therapists, they were unable to breach the concrete protecting her heart. 

A Way Out

In her sophomore year at college, she joined Campus Crusade and put her faith in Christ. She continued her secret lifestyle while active in Cru, Bible study, and discipleship. A job abroad followed college and her slavery to bulimia remained an active part of everyday life. She also began to drink heavily as a way to medicate the constant guilt and shame she lived with.
Marriage and children did not expose or alter her bulimia, although her husband did express concern about her drinking.
Marie writes at length about the self-disgust she experienced. It caused her to question her salvation and consider herself a hypocrite. She felt hopeless and at times she feared God had rejected her. However, she had such a desire to return to Him that she continuously tried to turn away from her sin. In desperation, she met with a small group of Christian women who prayed over her. It was then that she began to find freedom from alcohol and bulimia.  
From this point forward in the book, Marie develops the inward battle of change at the heart level. She describes her battle with overcoming her eating disorder both on the physical and spiritual level and does not shrink away from describing the difficulties she faced or her failures in overcoming the desire to binge and purge. She notes, “Overcoming an eating disorder requires our constant, active commitment to inward change” (7). 

Living Free

She urges the reader to “be one who believes” in the power of the Gospel as the means to transform life from victimhood to victorious in Christ, rightly emphasizing the critical need for repentance in overcoming an eating disorder.
“Forgiven, cleansed, and given a new start, He expects you to get up off your knees and get started—walking in repentance” (6).
Marie carefully breaks down the numerous issues of the heart that a person with eating disorder behaviors must repent of to overcome this sin and live victoriously. There is an entire chapter devoted to the believers position in Christ, which is very important for a woman with an eating disorder to understand since so much of her thinking is performance oriented. Marie brings forth the truth about the role emotions play in how a person thinks about food. This is vital since those with unhealthy eating habits believe many lies about food.
Throughout the book, there are application steps that make use of charts and Scripture memorization. There is also an entire chapter on practical issues that a person with disordered eating faces. Marie highlights the refining benefits of a biblical counseling relationship and involvement in a local church. 
This book is a solid read for the biblical counselor who is looking to expand their understanding on this important topic and for anyone seeking to overcome an eating disorder or is ministering to someone who is enslaved to the lifestyle. The personal story victory and practical application of Gospel truth makes this a great resource. 
Julie Ganschow

Julie Ganschow

Julie Ganschow has been involved in biblical counseling and discipleship for over a decade. She ministers to women through Biblical Counseling for Women and writes a daily blog on counseling issues. She is a staff member at Reigning...
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Feedback from a Professor...and Former Bulimic

Dear Marie,

Thank you for your sincere, honest, straightforward, inspirational book! I am a 36-year-old, single woman living in California. I was severely bulimic for 6 years, and for another 6 years after that, I struggled with non-purging bulimia (bingeing and restriction). I also developed alcoholism during those years. I wasn't raised to believe in God, but I always knew my eating disorder was a form of sin and dated back to my early experiences with lying and petty theft as a pre-teen.

I accepted Christ in 2007, much to the dismay of my family. I now work as a professor, teaching about the sociology of addiction. I also mentor women struggling to recover from eating disorders. I was very excited to find your book, because I think it will be a huge help for one of my mentees in particular, named Laura. She will go several weeks without bingeing and then get mentally tripped up about the boundaries of abstinence. She knows it's not wise to eat trigger foods, but she's also wary about making them off-limits because it perpetuates food rules. I'm going to suggest she try your advice to make certain foods off-limits for 6 to 8 weeks and then pray to seek further guidance.

Your advice and insight is spot-on, based on my own experiences and observations. I've seen a lot of bulimics (including my own sister) and a lot of spiritual and nutritional approaches to ending the habit, and everything you wrote rings true.

Eating disorders are crippling. Yes, they are triggered by family and environmental situations, but I also believe they are a serious site of spiritual warfare. Sometimes I think people who come from non-believing families are particularly targeted by the enemy, because he knows how many opportunities we have to help lead people to Christ.

I am so grateful to know you are out there! Please pray for my mentees and let me know if there's anything I can do to help you.

In Christ,


"For the Rest of My Life" - Anniversary of Broken Chains

Ten years ago today, (January 1, 2004), I suffered my very last hangover. I had forgotten that today is the anniversary of Jesus redeeming my life from the pit, until a few minutes ago. Listening to "For the Rest of My Life" by Third Day, I was struck by the appropriateness of such a song to remember God's faithfulness:

Staring at the edge of a canyon
It all feels so far away
Somewhere it all went wrong
The sun has come and gone
I'm left here standing in the rain

You rescued me from the darkness
I feel the warmth and the light
Somehow you pulled me out of
A sea of pain and doubt
I'm never going to go that way again

For the rest of my life
Will You be by my side?
I can't make it by myself
I want You and no one else
For the rest of my life

And when my memories have all faded
They all seem so far away
My one and only hope is
I'll still be holding You close
I'm never gonna ever walk away from You again

For the rest of my life
Will You be by my side?
I can't make it by myself
I want You and no one else
For the rest of my life

For the rest of my life

For the rest of my life
Will You be by my side?
I can't make it by myself
I want You and no one else
For the rest of my life


"Hope and Healing from Eating Disorders" Published in Albania!

Dear readers,

While I realize many of you may not speak or read Albanian (I do not), I wanted to share with you my first published article in a foreign magazine. Earlier this week, "Ilira Reviste" ran my piece "Hope and Healing from Eating Disorders" in their magazine, which is the only Christian women's magazine in Albania. (Click link to read the original, English version). The magazine is only available in Tiranë, but the editor, Migena Ramaj, sent me a .pdf of the issue.

As far as I understand, anorexia and bulimia have become problematic among the young women of Eastern Europe and biblical counseling is in short supply. My hope in having this article published (and a similar one in an upcoming issue of "Списание Лия", a Bulgarian Christian magazine), is to bring attention to the Person and work of Jesus Christ to readers. Even believers often fail to make the connection between the hope found in the Gospel and life-dominating sins such as anorexia and bulimia. It is my prayer that someone will read these articles and feel a new sense of hope in "putting off" the old nature and "putting on" the new.