The Trouble with Cookie Dough

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By: Amy J. Puccillo

Cookie dough tastes good but sounds awful. That’s the way it was described to me by an eighth grader. Pale, thin and tired, *Abby* often complained of headaches, refusing to participate in P.E. When others noticed she wasn’t eating her lunch at school, I asked her about it. Reluctantly, she explained that as a child her family members teased her by poking her tummy, laughing and calling her cookie dough belly. While this may seem like harmless fun, Abby took it to heart. Her mom told her she couldn’t be in ballet because she was too fat. Combined with images she saw on T.V. and in magazines, Abby decided in 7th grade that she was not going to eat anymore than necessary. She doesn’t eat breakfast and frequently skips lunch at school. She picks at her food during dinner and will occasionally munch on “healthy” snacks only. Abby hates eating in public and has a hard time seeing herself as already very thin. That’s the trouble with cookie dough – in this case, anyway – it didn’t come from eating it, instead it came from being called it.

Abby has some of the common symptoms of an eating disorder. Teens with eating disorders are often obsessed with their weight, have a poor body image, eat very little, will not eat around others, are very picky eaters and may deny any food issues. Eating disorders begin in a variety of ways. Usually they are linked to an emotional issue or an area of life which seems out of control. Sometimes they begin by just wanting to be ”thin” according to the world’s standards. Unfortunately, no matter how they start, one thing is for sure – they end with dreadful results and serious consequences. If you or someone you know may be struggling with an eating disorder, seek wise counsel from a trusted medical professional right away (see a list of resources at the bottom of this article).

Giving Jesus first place in your heart and life is critical to healthy living. We are called to nourish and care for our bodies – which is explained in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20: “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own, you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body” (NIV). 1 Corinthians 10:31 tells us, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (NIV). We are urged in Romans 12:1 to offer our bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God as a spiritual act of worship. When we take proper care of our body, we are engaging in worship and obedient service to the Lord.

While we may understand all this in our heads – sometimes our hearts may not. Eating disorders can actually be a result of emotional issues. This is why having Jesus in your heart is essential to healthy living. In order to be well-balanced mentally, physically and emotionally – we must constantly draw strength and wisdom from God’s Word. The Bible contains everything we need in order to make safe, healthy, right choices. We must replace the lies we have come to believe about ourselves with the Truth. The Truth that I’m talking about only comes from God’s Word. In fact, 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (NIV).

We believe God’s Word is Truth. We also know we need the power of God’s Word to help us break free from any destructive habits, sinful choices and unhealthy patterns. It is by the renewing of our minds that we can test and approve what God’s will is for us (Romans 12:2, NIV). If you or someone you know is possibly struggling with an eating disorder or food addiction it is important to get help immediately from a professional trained in this kind of recovery. (To get help, see your school guidance counselor, a trusted adult, or visit to locate a Christian counselor in your area). In the meantime, remember to fully rely on God and renew your mind daily by reading your Bible. My friend Abby is making progress after admitting her problem and seeking help. I have seen a smile begin to return as she clings to God’s promises for her life.

*Name changed to protect identity*

© 2009 by Amy Pucillo. All rights reserved.

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