Spirituality and Its Role in the Eating Disorder Recovery Journey

Article contributed by Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC, President @ Eating Disorder Hope and Crystal Karges, BS, DTR, CLEC

Cross seen through a cloudy skyPerhaps one of the most challenging yet equally beautiful aspects about the recovery journey is the way we progress, develop and mature throughout the process.

Recovery does not just speak to one feature of us as human beings, but to our complete entity: Mind, Body, and Spirit.

Perchance one of the most apparent marks of progression in recovery from an eating disorder is the physical aspect.

This is seen as dangerous eating habits are ceased and as one allows the healing of their body while establishing a peaceful relationship with food. There is a deep interconnection between physical and emotional/mental healing as one cannot exist or occur without the other.

The third essential component of the recovery process is Spiritual. Researchers have demonstrated that improvements in spiritual well-being during treatment were significantly connected with positive gains in eating attitudes, less body shape concerns, and positive psychological and social functioning [1]. Though maybe not quite as obvious as the physical, mental, and emotional facets of recovery, spirituality merits a deeper understanding in that it’s an important piece in the recovery puzzle.

As human beings are comprised of mind, body, and spirit, it would seem fitting that recovery would involve each of these aspects as well. Belief in God and prayer can be a positive influence on promoting your wholeness as a person; as well as, bringing hope to your life, especially in the valleys of despair experienced in the recovery journey.

Recovery is a road often darkened by shadows of doubt, hopelessness, self-hatred, confusion, and fear. Strengthening your spirit through prayer, meditation, worship, etc. can fortify you from within, bringing light and hopefulness in even the bleakest situations.

A well-known Scripture from the Bible, “The Love Chapter”, is applicable to the spiritual nature of the recovery journey [2]:

“Love is patient and kind”-Recovery involves learning how to be kind towards yourself and your body. Many in recovery would testify that this is not an easy task. Persistence in the journey and throughout the healing process will ultimately lead to freedom.

“Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude”-Eating disorders are isolating diseases, but recovery lies in the hands of those who find support, who ask for help in the hopes of pursuing recovery.

Young man reading small Bible“Love does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged”- Recovery is not a “one-path” option, and hardly ever is it in straight line.

Recovery involves a powerful process of forgiveness, learning to forgive one’s self or those that may have wronged you, to move towards healing.

“It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out”-Recovery involves exposing the truth about eating disorders, disabling the lies, and rejoicing in the truth! No longer are we captives under the bondage of lies that say: “I’m not good enough”, “I’m not beautiful”, and “I can’t make it”. Recovery is freedom.

“Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful and endures through every circumstance.” At Eating Disorder Hope, it is our prayer that you would find the faith you need to endure every circumstance….to not just survive but to thrive in life and flourish in every aspect of your being.

Recovery embodies the unity of mind, body, and spirit working together to promote total healing as a whole person. There is hope in knowing that you do not walk in this journey alone.

Eating Disorder Hope is a Christian organization dedicated to promoting eating disorder recovery for individuals of all faiths.


• Smith FT, Hardman RK, Richards PS, Fischer L. Intrinsic Religiousness and Spiritual Well-Being as Predictors of Treatment Outcome Among Women with Eating Disorders. Eating Disorders: The Journal of Treatment & Prevention. 2003 Spring; 11(1): 15-26.
• http://www.biblegateway.com/ (1st Corinthians 14:3-7; New Living Translation).

The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of eating disorders. These are not necessarily the views of Eating Disorder Hope, but an effort to offer a discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Eating Disorder Hope understand that eating disorders result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an eating disorder, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Published on October 9, 2012.
Reviewed, U
pdated & Approved on February 26, 2019, by Jacquelyn Ekern MS, LPC

Published on EatingDisorderHope.com