Former Miss America finds hope in Christ amid struggle with eating disorder

Miss America 2008 Kirsten Haglund struggled to fight anorexia and found God in the process.Screenshot/I Am Second video

Miss America 2008 Kirsten Haglund is featured in a film where she talks about battling eating disorder and finding hope in Christ.

"There is so much shame and stigma that surrounds eating disorders," said Haglund. "I hope that sharing what I went through and the freedom I experience now in recovery will help give others hope: to know that they are not alone, and that eating disorders are serious, but can be overcome. Life can be beautiful and full and free."

Haglund, who is a national eating disorders awareness advocate, and community relations specialist for Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Center, is in the 12-minute "I Am Second" White Chair Film.

I Am Second is a non-profit organisation founded in 2008 in Dallas, Texas that seeks to inspire people to live for God and for others.

Actors, athletes, musicians, business leaders and former drug addicts shared their stories of recovery and hope in "I Am Second."

In the film, Haglund said her parents finally decided to get her treated for anorexia.

"I was screaming and crying. I was so mad at my mom that she betrayed me, that she took me to the doctor," she said.

Her initial plan was to gain a little weight in order to make her parents feel like she was playing along and then she'll go back to being anorexic.

"But that's when I started to realise that I couldn't fool God. He saw everything. He saw the front I put on for people and he saw the Kirsten who was so disatisfied, upset and anxious and afraid," she said.

Six months into the programme, Haglund said she almost blacked out while running on a treadmill.

There her emotions erupted like a volcano.

"I realised I wanted to eat pizza again, I wanted to eat birthday cake and I want to travel the world," she said.

In the next two years, she fought to regain her health.

In 2011, she joined the outreach team at Timberland Knolls Residential Treatment Center where she works as community relations specialist and travels around the country to share her recovery story.

As Miss America, she had the privilege of joining ranks with the Eating Disorders Coalition in Washington, DC, to lobby the U.S. Congress for the passage of the Mental Health Parity and speak at a Congressional Briefing introducing the Federal Response to Eliminate Eating Disorders Act (FREED) Act.

She also founded The Kirsten Haglund Foundation to provide financial assistance to families and individuals seeking treatment for eating disorders.

In 2012, she became an ambassador for the National Eating Disorders Association.