Sid: My guest by way of telephone from Nashville, Tennessee the head of Mercy Ministries is Nancy Alcorn. Nancy’s just come out with a new book called “Mercy for Eating Disorders.” And there are so many young people involved in anorexia, bulimia, binge eating that there are more young people that can even get into her program at this moment. So she just felt a compulsion from the Holy Spirit that this book had to be written. And what I’d like to deal with this day Nancy what are the tell-tale symptoms if your children are involved or your spouse even in anorexia, bulimia, how would you know that?
Nancy: Well some of the things that you look for… is one of the things that people do is they gaze into the mirror a lot. They seem to be a little uncomfortable when eating in front of other people, constant weighing and sometimes avoiding weighing.
Sid: Why don’t they want to eat in front of people, what causes that?
Nancy: Well it has to do with their own feeling about it because just so demonic it causes bizarre behavior like hiding food. We’ve had some young girls in our program that will steal food out of kitchen and then they’ll go into the closet in their bedrooms and like throw-up into their shoes. They’ll hide food under the mattress, I mean it’s just really bazaar.
Sid: It sounds to me like the behavior you would expect from a drug addict.
Nancy: Well exactly, it’s pretty much just like that but it’s food. But another one of the signs is just an inability to concentrate, definitely a preoccupation with exercise. And I mean not normal exercise but like beyond the limits almost to exhaustion. And being driven, it’s just a driving force of eating or not eating, or exercising way beyond what is normal. And then one of the difficulty in sleeping, very performance based, perfectionist, highly competitive. Those are just some of the things, really obsessive compulsive behavior you know, pulling hair out, hand washing, that kind of thing.
Sid: My goodness it’s you know this is a whole realm that I’m not familiar with. But you say it’s epidemic in America.
Nancy: It really is and you know like we had one girl that came to us and she started with real severe depression when she was 15. And out of depression she began to overeat and be inactive and kind of hid and stuff. And she developed a weight problem and so she decided she had to get rid of the weight to be accepted by her peers, because her friends were calling her fatty at school and stuff like that. So she ends up just not eating anything practically. And her weight had gotten up to over 200 pounds and she decided she wasn’t going to eat until she became thin. And a dangerous amount of time she dropped 100 pounds and became anorexic. And then after her parents got help for her then she tried to start her college education, and she ended up getting back into binging and purging and hear heart almost failed her one night. And she was taken to by ambulance to a hospital and she went through all of these treatment programs and she still had the eating disorder. She didn’t feel like anybody could help her, she didn’t feel like anyone understood her. And so finally one night she just said “There is no help for me and I’m hopeless and I’m worthless.” And she tried to kill herself a serious suicide attempt, ended up in the hospital. And then they just finally told her parents we don’t know what to do with you so we’re going to try shock treatment, so they tried that. And that didn’t seem to do anything, and so they finally said “You will need to be on disability for the rest of your life, you will never be able to get a college education and you’ll never be able to function in a job. This is a disease there is no cure for it, you just have to learn to cope as best as possible.” And so they prepared her parents or family. Well she was somewhere where one of our girls who had come through Mercy and had been set free by the power of God was giving a testimony about freedom. She said “I am free from my eating disorder.” And it shocked Laura to hear freedom and eating disorder in the same sentence. And so she said “What do I have to do lose?” And so she called us, got an application, came into the program and in 6 months’ time she was able to get the healing that she needed on the inside and deal with the issues that confronted her. And the pain of rejection and just all the hurt. And she more than anything she realized who she was in Christ. She had all of these lies in her head about herself. And through God’s word we were able to push out the lies of the enemy and the lies of self and put the truth of God’s word in there and help her see herself as beautiful and see herself as the daughter of the King and as a Princess. She actually got a revelation of who she was in Christ and that she was forgiven and that she was an overcomer, she could do all things through Christ who strengthens her. That girl went and got her college education and got her Master’s Degree and now is back on staff as our Director of Communications. That’s the very same program that she herself graduated from almost 7 years ago. And she travels with the girls from contemporary Christian artists “Point of Grace” gives her testimony in concerts and conferences that they’re doing for teenage girls around the country. And she’s just one of many girls that have been set free because of the truth of God’s word. And we tell our girls who have been set free because of the truth of God’s word and the fact that we tell our girls “You really can choose.” There are people out there I really sense that there are some young girls listening to this program right now maybe even some older woman who are caught in this bondage and you’ve listened to the lies of Satan and the lies of the experts of the world that say you have no choice. But Deuteronomy 13 the Lord says “This day, this day right now when your hearing this, this day I set before you life and death, blessing and cursing.” And God says “Choose life that you and your seed may live.” And we have girls that come through this program whose mothers have had eating disorders and it’s a generational thing that runs through. In Christ the curse is broken.
Sid: Okay, one of those girls that’s listening to us right now…. with your book how much hope would she have?
Nancy: Well I believe in Christ if you turn to Him 100% and surrender control to Him and renew your mind to God’s word and replace the lies with truth I believe it’s 100% every time. Because in Christ we win, I believe that the name of Jesus is above every name including eating disorders. And most of us want a quick fix like we go through a drive through. “I’ve got 1 minute so fix me God,” and it’s not like that, it’s a process of transformation that goes on and it’s taken steps toward it and allowing the power of God to release us from that bondage.
Sid: Alright there’s some people listening to us right now that are involved and they know they are in this anorexia or bulimia or binge eating, what are the medical consequences to them? You shared one person but was this the exception or how serious could the hurt themselves for the rest of their life?
Nancy: Well it’s very serious, the medical consequences there’s a large number of them. But young girls we have many young girls that are 18 – 19 years old that have had eating disorders for years and have never actually even started their menstrual cycle because of it. We’ve had girls that have burned holes in their colon because of laxative abuse. We have had girls who have the acid from throwing up the reflux acid from throwing up has actually created a situation that endangers their very life where they have a hole in the lining of their esophagus. It actually causes severe constipation, it causes your eyes to be very puffy, blood vessels to break and that’s force those girls that would be forcing themselves to throw-up. It causes all kinds of medical problems. And for girls that come in and they’ve had eating disorders for years and years usually the acid from throwing up has taken the enamel off of their teeth and they’re severe cavities and damage that sometimes even dentists that are the best cannot do anything about their. There’s organ damage, hair loss, low blood pressure, irregular heartbeat and heart failure. And I told you that Laura almost died from her heart failing…
Sid: Nancy, just a couple of keys from the book that people will be getting from us at this moment to be set free.
Nancy: One thing that has to happen is that there has to be a belief that the Name of Jesus is above every name. And as we call on the Name of Lord that we can be saved, not just saved one day when we get to heaven but saved from whatever bandages the enemy is trying to bring into our life. So we have to understand two things, it’s Satan that comes to steal, kill and destroy. But Jesus said “I have come that you may have life and have it more abundantly, every good and perfect gift that is from above.” An eating disorder is not a good and perfect gift and it is a weapon of destruction. And we have to know that Christ died and paid the price for that so we can be set free. So we have to surrender our lives to Him, make Jesus the Lord of our life. And then renew our mind to God’s word and to forgive the people that have hurt us. To believe that God wants to transform us on the inside to be able to deal with and face the issues of our life. And in many cases girls that have been sexually abused. We had one young girl who had been sexual abused by a youth pastor and developed an eating disorder out of that. And she had to go back and be able to forgive and to also to confront the person who had abused her so that she could tell him how much it had done to her. And he had abused all of these other girls and they were able through some evidence that came forth to get a conviction so that he wouldn’t be able to hurt anyone else. And so just to know that we have a chose, that in Christ we can have freedom. And we can take the lies that we have and replace them with the truth. And we have seen our self the way that God sees us.