How did I view my body?
I hated it. Everything about it. The way it looked. The way it felt pain, hunger, thirst, or tired. I hated myself... hating my body was just an extension of that.
What were the reasons for restricting?
I didn't really "restrict" like most people. As a very little girl, I was a super picky eater. If told I had to eat the hot dog, or go hungry, I chose to go hungry.
When I was 10ish, I heard my parents stressing about money. In my mind, if I went without food, that would help them.
At 14, my dad punched my brother. He spent two weeks in the hospital with a ruptured spleen. I blamed myself, because I didn't do anything to protect Jeff. I got really depressed and lost my appetite. I found that not eating numbed my anger and my sadness. It made life more bearable.
At 17, when I went into treatment, my therapist would ask me why I didn't want to eat, and all I could come up with then was that I was crazy. I really didn't know.
I got a lot better from 18-29. I felt like I owed it to everyone else to be recovered. So I ate like I was supposed to. At 29, I just decided I was done... done living, done trying, done pleasing everyone else. Which took me right back to starving myself.
I went back to therapy, and this time talked about sexual abuse that I wasn't willing to talk about the first time. Talking about the abuse caused horrible flashbacks, nightmares, and intense painful "body memories". I felt like the only way to find relief from the flashbacks and body memories was to walk. I walked and walked and walked.
I went back into treatment mostly because I knew I could make myself eat, but I didn't know if I could make myself eat AND deal with all of the abuse and trauma that I needed to deal with.
How did religion play into your thought processes?
Religion was HUGE.
First, not eating was a very acceptable way to deal with problems. Alcohol and drugs were not an option, but not eating was not only NOT looked down upon, but thought to be a good thing. People (in general and in the church) still see my ability to fast for a long time and to exercise as a show of self-discipline. (I have heard several people say they wish they could be anorexic for a while, just so they could lose weight.)
There are many lessons about the spirit having power over the body. I can push my body to extremes that most people won't ever even try. (That's a good thing, by the way.) Being able to push my body meant I was more spiritual.
I was rewarded for not being selfish... for being aware of what everyone else needed and letting them have it. This played out in food. I (still) won't take the last piece of cake, because that feels selfish.
Fasting is a sacrifice that we make to God, so that he will answer our prayers. I fully believed that my not eating could help the people I love...
The LDS religion preaches perfection as the goal. It created very black and white thinking. The goal might be to BE perfect, but if you can't be perfect, at least LOOK perfect. Hide all imperfections, weaknesses, flaws, and make them go away. (Not eating was a way to make all the human flaws seem less... I had super human strength... It also made all human emotions go away. I didn't' feel angry, jealous, sad, or wanting. I didn't have strong opinions about anything (It's hard to feel passionate about anything when you're starving.)
Forgiveness in church means forgetting. Killing brain cells by starving MAKES you forget.