Thursday, February 27, 2014

A little lower than the angels…

“For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honor.”
Psalm 8:5; Hebrews 2:7

As you struggle with food, weight or body image issues, you probably have not thought of yourself as reaching almost angel status. You may feel there’s absolutely nothing redeeming, glorious or angelic about you.

But God sees you differently. You are incredibly made- and it has nothing to do with how you may manipulate your body. It’s not about biceps, abs, bench pressing five hundred pounds or shedding pounds. It’s about your own inherent value, created by God, ON PURPOSE!!!

I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made…”
Psalm 139:14

 “All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made.”
John 1:3

This is who you are. As we’ve come to a close of the National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, I hope you are beginning to see yourself in a better light. If you’re struggling in any way, it’s not because you’re useless and worthless. We ALL fall short of God’s Glory (Romans 3:23). Therefore, ALL of us need a gracious and helpful God.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”
2 Corinthians 12:9

Wherever you find yourself, I hope you see God working in you, even in spite of you.

If you see yourself struggling with eating disorders, please know you’re valuable enough to get help. 

Knowledge IS power. Allow God to empower YOU!

Copyright © 2014 by Sheryle Cruse

Strategies for Prevention and Early Intervention of Male Eating Disorders

Recognize that eating disorders do not discriminate on the basis of gender. Men can and do develop eating disorders.
Learn about eating disorders and know the warning signs. Become aware of your community resources (treatment centers, self-help groups, etc.). Consider implementing an Eating Concerns Support Group in a school, hospital, or community setting to provide interested young men with an opportunity to learn more about eating disorders and to receive support. Encourage young men to seek professional help if necessary.
Understand that athletic activities or professions that necessitate weight restriction (e.g., gymnastics, track, swimming, wrestling, rowing) put males at risk for developing eating disorders. Male wrestlers, for example, present with a higher rate of eating disorders than the general male population. Coaches need to be aware of and disallow any excessive weight control or body building measures employed by their young male athletes. 
Talk with young men about the ways in which cultural attitudes regarding ideal male body shape, masculinity, and sexuality are shaped by the media. Assist young men in expanding their idea of “masculinity” to include such characteristics as caring, nurturing, and cooperation. Encourage male involvement in traditional “non-masculine” activities such as shopping, laundry, and cooking.
Demonstrate respect for gay men, and men who display personality traits or who are involved in professions that stretch the limits of traditional masculinity; e.g., men who dress colorfully, dancers, skaters, etc.
Never emphasize body size or shape as an indication of a young man’s worth or identity as a man. Value the person on the “inside” and help him to establish a sense of control in his life through self-knowledge and expression rather than trying to obtain control through dieting or other eating disordered behaviors.
Confront others who tease men who do not meet traditional cultural expectations for masculinity. Confront anyone who tries to motivate or “toughen up” young men by verbally attacking their masculinity; e.g.,  calling names such as “sissy” or “wimp.”
Listen carefully to a young man’s thoughts and feelings, take his pain seriously, allow him to become who he is.
Validate a young man’s strivings for independence and encourage him to develop all aspects of his personality, not only those that family and/or culture find acceptable. Respect a person’s need for space, privacy, and boundaries. Be careful about being overprotective. Allow him to exercise control and make his own decisions whenever possible, including control over what and how much he eats, how he looks, and how much he weighs.
Understand the crucial role of the father and other male influences in the prevention of eating disorders.  Find ways to connect young men with healthy male role models.
Call our toll-free, confidential Helpline, Monday-Thursday from 9:00 am - 9:00 pm and Friday from 9:00 am - 5:00 pm (EST):


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

I Had NO Idea!!!!

Ask and Receive

All kinds of stereotypes and lies are flying around, trying to convince and shame you for struggling with “this girl’s disease.” You may feel like “less of a man” for experiencing any food, weight or body image issue. You may think “real men” don’t get eating disorders. Not true. It’s not just a female issue.
What can be just as troubling is, even though males suffer from eating, they are less like to ask for help. Check out some sobering information:

Males are less likely to be diagnosed early with an eating disorder.

Doctors are reportedly less likely to make a diagnosis of eating disorders in males than females. Other adults who work with young people and parents also may be less likely to suspect an eating disorder in boys, thereby delaying detection and treatment. A study of 135 males hospitalized with an eating disorder noted that the males with bulimia felt ashamed of having a stereotypically “female” disorder, which might explain their delay in seeking treatment. Binge eating disorder may go unrecognized in males because an overeating male is less likely to provoke attention than an overeating female.  This inferior image, among other things, contributes to the reality that 1 in 10 cases of eating disorders involve males. Particularly, for the disorder anorexia, up to one in four children referred to an eating disorders professional is a boy. Clearly eating disorders amongst males is a cause for concern.

It’s critical- and Biblical- you get the help you need.

“Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.”
John 16:24

Find trustworthy men, mentors, pastors, coaches and teachers to support you. If you feel there’s no such help available, please contact NEDA’s hotline:

Call our toll-free, confidential Helpline, Monday-Thursday from 9:00 am - 9:00 pm and Friday from 9:00 am - 5:00 pm (EST):

There is help and hope. Just like eating disorders are not merely “a female thing,” neither is the recovery, support and relevant help available for them.

And please never forget, God never discriminates. He wants you to be the man He envisions you to be!

Copyright © 2014 by Sheryle Cruse

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The prayers of an righteous man availeth much

Right now, you may be assaulted with feelings of powerlessness. However, you are not powerless. Pray! God wants to help you RIGHT where you are! Reach out and have others pray for you as well.

“Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”
James 5:16

It’s not weakness; it’s strength. And it can do more than we could ever imagine! Pray and get help!

Copyright © 2014 by Sheryle Cruse

Call our toll-free, confidential Helpline, Monday-Thursday from 9:00 am - 9:00 pm and Friday from 9:00 am - 5:00 pm (EST):

My Strength

Eating disorders often disguise themselves as a mastery of self-control and strength. Bulimia, therefore, can manifest for some boys and men. It can be a need to prove some definition of manliness, cope with unaddressed trauma or abuse or deal with anxiety. Still, however, the predominant feelings are those of weakness and failure.
See yourself here? You’re not alone.

Bulimia Nervosa in Males

Bulimia nervosa is a severe, life-threatening disorder characterized by recurrent episodes of binge eating followed by self-induced vomiting or other purging methods (e.g., laxatives, diuretics, excessive exercise, fasting) to prevent weight gain. An individual struggling with bulimia is intensely afraid of gaining weight and exhibits persistent dissatisfaction with his body and appearance, as well as a significant distortion in the perception of the size or shape of his body.

Behavioral Characteristics:
·         Recurrent episodes of binge eating: eating an amount of food that is definitely larger than most people would eat during a similar period of time and under similar circumstances
·         A sense of lack of control over eating during binge episodes
·         Recurrent purging or compensatory behavior to prevent weight gain: secretive self-induced vomiting, misuse of laxatives, diuretics, or fasting, compulsive exercise (possibly including excessive running, body building, or weight lifting)
·         Hoarding of food, hiding food and eating in secret
·         Frequently weighing self
·         Preoccupation with food
·         Focus on certain body parts; e.g., buttocks, thighs, stomach
·         Disgust with body size or shape
·         Distortion of body size; i.e., feels fat even though he may be thin

Emotional and Mental Characteristics:
·         Intense fear of becoming fat or gaining weight
·         Performance and appearance oriented
·         Works hard to please others
·         Depression
·         Social isolation
·         Possible conflict over gender identity or sexual orientation
·         Strong need to be in control
·         Difficulty expressing feelings
·         Feelings of worthlessness -- uses weight, appearance, and achievement as measures of worth
·         Rigid, inflexible “all or nothing” thinking

Physical Characteristics:
·         Weight fluctuations
·         Loss of dental enamel due to self-induced vomiting
·         Edema (fluid retention or bloating)
·         Constipation
·         Swollen salivary glands
·         Cardiac arrhythmia due to electrolyte imbalances
·         Esophageal tears, gastric rupture
·         Lack of energy, fatigue

This is not who you are; this is not who God believe you to be. He sees you as both incredible- and someone who needs His help.

 “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
Isaiah 41:10 

One doesn’t cancel the other. It’s not about your own strength; it’s about His, in you.

“The LORD is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation; this is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him.”
Exodus 15:2 

And He is strengthening you, as you take that next step in life. That’s includes recovery.
Take that next step of strength!

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.”
Ephesians 6:10

Copyright © 2014 by Sheryle Cruse
Call our toll-free, confidential Helpline, Monday-Thursday from 9:00 am - 9:00 pm and Friday from 9:00 am - 5:00 pm (EST):

Monday, February 24, 2014

Change the "Bossy" Perception...

Love This!!!

Man Looks On Outward Appearance

In Western culture, it’s one of the greatest challenges to possess a healthy self-image, let alone, a healthy attitude toward food and weight issues. Practically everything we’re presented with, image-wise, is manipulated, altered or photo-shopped to some perceived perfect standard.  However, when it’s presented to us, often there is no mention of the factor that there was massive airbrushing, strategic posed angles, light and camera tricks galore. No, the subtle message, more often than not, tends to be, “this is reality.” But it’s not.
·         Nemeroff, Stein, Diehl, and Smolak  suggest that males may be receiving increasing media messages regarding dieting, and ideal of muscularity, and plastic surgery options (such a pectoral and calf implants).
·         DiDomenico and Andersen found that magazines targeted primarily to women included a greater number of articles and advertisements aimed at weight reduction (e.g., diet, calories) and those targeted at men contained more shape articles and advertisements (e.g., fitness, weight lifting, body building, or muscle toning). The magazines most read by females ages 18-24 had 10 times more diet content than those most popular among men in the same age group.

We’re image obsessed. We fret over the outward appearance, often choosing to sacrifice the unseen, like our souls: our mind, our will and our emotions. But God sees and values us, in our entirety.

“But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.’”
1 Samuel 16:7

The inner workings don’t disqualify us from His Love and Esteem, even if they don’t fit some temporary image trend. You are more than your body; you are more than the sum total of your features. And God’s not intimidated by the more vulnerable inner reality, even if/when you try to project an image of masculinity, strength and invincibility. Challenge what is being presented to you. Is it a sales pitch, disguised as an unrealistic Charles Atlas standard?

Where is your focus- on the outward presentation or on the inner reality? It’s not hopeless. Just realize, whether it’s image manipulation, your uniqueness or God Himself, there’s more going on than meets the eye. There is the heart of the matter.

Copyright © 2014 by Sheryle Cruse
Call our toll-free, confidential Helpline, Monday-Thursday from 9:00 am - 9:00 pm and Friday from 9:00 am - 5:00 pm (EST):

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Mighty Man of Valor

Least likely… ever feel that way?

According to Judges (6:10-24), there was definitely a man who had a major inferiority complex: Gideon. Discovered in a wine press, an angel of the Lord popped up, saying…

“…‘The Lord is with you, you mighty man of valor!’”
(verse 12)

And Gideon’s reaction? He questioned if God was ever there with him; he felt abandoned.

“…‘O my lord, if the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all His miracles which our fathers told us about, saying, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the Lord has forsaken us and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites.”
 (Verse 13)
But God reassures him, encouraging him to go and get some victory, underscoring it with ‘Have I not sent you?’”(verse 14).
But Gideon argued his realistic viewpoint instead:

“…‘O my Lord, how can I save Israel? Indeed my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.”
(Verse fifteen)

Attack of the fifty foot case of “Least likely.”
Still, God tried to reassure him…

“And the Lord said to him, “Surely I will be with you, and you shall defeat the Midianites as one man.”
Verse 16

But Gideon did not have a case of the fifty foot confidence- in God OR in himself! And he did what- let’s get real- you and I often do when it comes to dealing with God: He wanted to see a sign and sweeten the deal with human effort…

Then he said to Him, ‘If now I have found favor in Your sight, then show me a sign that it is You who talk with me. 18 Do not depart from here, I pray, until I come to You and bring out my offering and set it before You.’”
Verse 17-18
This was followed by waiting…
“And He said, ‘I will wait until you come back.’”
(Verse 18)

 So Gideon went about his business, trying to make this thing happen (verse 19) until an angel popped up again with the sign (verses 20-21).

And bam- NOW Gideon gets it- God really IS with him (took a minute)!

Now Gideon perceived that He was the Angel of the Lord. So Gideon said, “Alas, O Lord God! For I have seen the Angel of the Lord face to face.”
(Verse 22)

But wait, God wasn’t done yet. There was still more reassurance going on…
 Then the Lord said to him, “Peace be with you; do not fear, you shall not die.”
(Verse 23)
To which Gideon commemorated the whole thing…

So Gideon built an altar there to the Lord, and called it ‘The-Lord-Is-Peace.’…”
(Verse 24)

Whew! Who needs a nap? Did Gideon really need that much reassurance from God? Apparently so.
And, unfortunately, it’s not that uncommon of a situation for those of us struggling with eating disorders. There’s tremendous insecurity and low self-worth driving the behaviors (just check out the Emotional Characteristics, listed below).
Unfortunately, because of the untrue myth out there that eating disorders are only “a girl issue,” many males suffer in secrecy. Add to that challenge, the negative stigma attached to males struggling. There seems to be a deep shame and a blow to self-confidence. But God IS your confidence! And, regardless of what you’re dealing with, He wants to help you just as much as He helped Gideon, this “mighty man of valor!”
We need to change the perception of that word. You are that already! A lack of medals, achievements, realized goals or feelings which support the reality of that word never change your standing. Don’t hide in shame or defeat! Come out, get help; you’re not alone!
Be who God has created you to be, valor and all!!!

Copyright © 2014 by Sheryle Cruse

Anorexia Nervosa in Males

Anorexia nervosa is a severe, life-threatening disorder in which the individual refuses to maintain a minimally normal body weight, is intensely afraid of gaining weight, and exhibits a significant distortion in the perception of the shape or size of his body, as well as dissatisfaction with his body shape and size.

Behavioral Characteristics:
·         Excessive dieting, fasting, restricted diet
·         Food rituals
·         Preoccupation with body building, weight lifting, or muscle toning
·         Compulsive exercise
·         Difficulty eating with others, lying about eating
·         Frequently weighing self
·         Preoccupation with food
·         Focus on certain body parts; e.g., buttocks, thighs, stomach
·         Disgust with body size or shape
·         Distortion of body size; i.e., feels fat even though others tell him he is already very thin

Emotional and Mental Characteristics:
·         Intense fear of becoming fat or gaining weight
·         Depression
·         Social isolation
·         Strong need to be in control
·         Rigid, inflexible thinking, “all or nothing”
·         Decreased interest in sex or fears around sex
·         Possible conflict over gender identity or sexual orientation
·         Low sense of self-worth—uses weight as a measure of worth
·         Difficulty expressing feelings
·         Perfectionistic -- strives to be the neatest, thinnest, smartest, etc.
·         Difficulty thinking clearly or concentrating
·         Irritability, denial -- believes others are overreacting to his low weight or caloric restriction
·         Insomnia 

Physical Characteristics:
·         Low body weight (15% or more below what is expected for age, height, activity level)
·         Lack of energy, fatigue
·         Muscular weakness
·         Decreased balance, unsteady gait
·         Lowered body temperature, blood pressure, pulse rate
·         Tingling in hands and feet
·         Thinning hair or hair loss
·         Lanugo (downy growth of body hair)
·         Heart arrhythmia
·         Lowered testosterone levels

Call our toll-free, confidential Helpline, Monday-Thursday from 9:00 am - 9:00 pm and Friday from 9:00 am - 5:00 pm (EST):

Pinocchio Nose

“He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper. But he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion.”
Proverbs 28:13

I don’t know if you’re aware of it, but Pinocchio celebrates its 74th anniversary as a film today. Pinocchio-  the adorable little story about a marionette who wants to become a real boy. It touches on this real theme, as well as the power of dreaming and the ability to love.

And yes, there’s also the lesson about lying, hence Pinocchio’s growing nose every time he tells a fib.

And that reminds me about the often chaotic journey of recovery when it comes to our addictions, compulsions and issues.

A lot of us have growing noses, don’t we?

Addiction- related issues are subtle, tricky things which seem to sneak up on us from “out of nowhere.” A lot of us may not look “the type.” We may not look like such creatures as an alcoholic, a drug addict or a person struggling with eating disorders. We may appear to have “normal” looking noses, so to speak.

In my case, I have a short turned up nose. In fact, I don’t have a bone in it, which allows me to press it down and completely flatten it. It’s a great party trick. I mention this, not so you can stare at my nose and be entertained by its flatness. I mention it to illustrate how things are not as they appear.

Me, the nice girl who “looked” like everything was fine, was, in reality, a desperate, struggling, lying sufferer of all things eating disorder. And, due to an inaccurate estimation of damning shame and failure, I believe I needed to lie about my condition instead of seeking help for it.

So, there I was, “no-nose Sheryle,” getting a bigger spiritual honker by the second as I repeatedly attempted to convince everyone, myself and God included, of how I was “fine.”

Yeah, right.

But what’s the old saying? Confession is good for the soul. Indeed, it is a major recovery principle.

 “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”
James 5:16

We have to get real. And most of us have a lot of trouble doing just that. We are driven by perfectionism, expectation, failure, image and unmet need. We lie to ourselves about just how important those things are to us. Repeatedly spouting how “we’re fine” won’t bring healing.

Scripture says it best...

 “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
1 John 1:8-9
There’s an Ethiopian Proverb which also echoes that Truth:
“He who conceals his disease cannot expect to be cured.”
Admitting we have a problem is the cliché beginning point. Growing a harmful, self-destructive nose of our chosen addictions can only lead to a dead end.
God is for us, not against us (Romans 8:31). But He works best with our willing honesty. It can be brutal, embarrassing and laced with all kinds of fears.
But God is a healing, redemptive God.
And like Pinocchio, He wants to turn our healing from fake to real.
The challenge lies within our Pinocchio selves. Will we let Him do just that? Will we stop telling the harmful lies which make our self-destructive choices grow?
Copyright © 2014 by Sheryle Cruse