Vegan Eating Disorder Treatment & Recovery – Veganism is in trend these days. Whether for ethical, environmental, or health reasons, many agree that it is a wise choice.
For my part, I am always alert when someone announces that they want to become a vegan. It is a professional responsibility because too often I have seen eating disorders hide under the guise of veganism.
Vegan Eating Disorder Treatment & Recovery
Sometimes it would seem like a more socially acceptable way to restrict yourself, to refuse to eat the same thing as others, to sulk at whole groups of foods. I ask questions, I try to understand, I listen carefully to hear what is not said.
- Is the weight management part of the equation?
- Is there an intense fear of eating “bad food” behind the words?
- Is family or social life compromised by this choice?
I speak unfortunately of experience. At the age of 16, poorly skin and bones, obsessed with my weight, I decided to become a vegan. What passed for a teenage trend, actually had concealed a fairly severe eating disorder.
Of course, no one could have told me that I was doing it to lose weight, to be able to refuse to eat what was served without arousing suspicion. I shouted loudly that there were ethical reasons for me to make this choice, but deep down, I knew it was not.
A society obsessed with food
In a society like ours, what better camouflage is there to cover up an eating disorder?
I can also tell you that in my practice, I have met several people for whom the choice of becoming a vegan or “eating healthy” hid a deeper discomfort. When eating is distressing, in my opinion, it is not healthy, no matter what you eat.
When we talk about eating disorders, almost everyone has heard of anorexia and bulimia, sometimes even binge eating.
But, did you know that there are other lesser-known types of eating disorders? I’m talking about orthorexia, bigorexia, and other unspecified eating disorders.
Although some of these conditions are not yet recognized by the DSM 5 (diagnosis of mental health disorders), several experts agree that they do exist.
Some people have eating disorders that meet only part of the diagnostic criteria for anorexia, bulimia, or other eating disorders.
As we cannot classify them in a specific category, we speak of unspecified eating disorders.
It is important to note that the suffering and distress experienced by these people is just as intense as that of people with specific eating disorders.
- The orthorexic person is obsessed with healthy eating and avoids foods that they deem “bad” for their health. Planning, buying, and preparing meals then becomes very complicated and can take an inordinate place in one’s life.
- Bigorexia normally affects athletic men. They live an intense desire to sculpt their body and change their appearance through sport and food. A distortion of the body image is also present.
Be careful, I’m not saying that all vegans or all those who eat healthy suffer from eating disorders. Many people make these choices for good reasons, and it is possible to be both vegans and have a healthy relationship with food.
Veganism And Weight Gain
Certain nutritional errors can cause an increase in the body mass index in people who decide to dispense with animal products.
Veganism and weight gain: understanding the reasons
According to observations from several studies, people who eat meat have a BMI (Body Mass Index) higher than vegans, who don’t eat animal products, and vegetarians, who don’t eat meat or fish. However, in some cases, the vegan diet may be associated with weight gain.
Here are some nutrition mistakes that may explain it.
Portions and calories
Foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains contain essential nutrients for the body to function properly. But this is not a reason to abuse it.
The quantities required to depend on the level of activity, age, sex, height, and weight of each person.
Too large and too rich portions will necessarily weigh on the scale.
The same goes for dishes based on healthy foods, but very high in calories, such as sweet potato crisps, vegetable milk, vegetable ice, etc. They often contain additives, hidden sugars, and salt.
Instead, opt for a few squares of dark chocolate, seasonal fruits, and raw vegetables for your snacks.
Not enough protein
Consuming around 60 grams of protein each day is essential for working the metabolism and staying in shape, recalls nutrition expert Cynthia Sass.
Be sure to include enough vegetable protein, such as lentils, quinoa, and some plant-based protein powders, in your dishes.
The wrong time
Whether you’re vegan, vegetarian or omnivorous, the time you eat your meal has a big impact on weight gain or loss.
Eating the most important dish of the day at the least active time in the evening can promote excess pounds.
Try to prepare a full lunch and a lighter dinner.
Some products for people on a vegan diet such as coconut drinks, almond milk or green smoothies contain hidden calories.
They are sometimes so rich that they could be enough for a meal.
Beware of these products and, unless you drink only water and unsweetened tea, check labels and nutrients carefully before consuming them.
The Link between Vegan Eating Disorder
I will tell you about my experience here and the advice that I have acquired throughout this adventure.
Vegan Eating Disorder – Strictly speaking, far from me the idea of thinking that it has a direct cause and effect link between veganism and eating disorders, and this has even helped some people in their recovery.
However, if you have eating disorders, this may not be a good time to start a transition to vegetarianism.
I’ll explain why from my own experience.
For my part, when I started wanting to lose weight, I deleted certain food categories, prominently meat.
I have always felt concerned about ecology and I wanted to make efforts for the planet. In any case, that’s what I was trying to persuade myself because, in hindsight, I realize that it was only an additional restriction.
When you suffer from eating disorders, the disease sees an easy opening by becoming a vegan, overnight, this allows you to control your plate even more.
It is an excellent excuse when we sit at the table, to say that we do not eat this and that, for the welfare of animals for example.
However, we are still obsessed with restrictions.
This can also be a sign of orthorexia: indeed, there are many reports and other documentaries showing that animal products can be dangerous for health. Except that by removing food from our plate, we no longer eat enough to meet the needs of our body.
So, as long as we have an eating disorder, it is impossible to really know what is causing our urge to stop animal products.
Is it a desire to protect animals or is it still the disease that speaks?
It is difficult to know precisely.
This is why, I think it is important to wait before starting any transition, to be sure that this is what you really want, and that it is not a small voice that dictates you. to do.
When we finally realize that we are suffering from an eating disorder, and that we feel ready to start a phase of renutrition, we often have the anxiety of reintroducing certain foods. Likewise, you have to try to do things gradually and take your time.
Vegan After Eating Disorder – To be able to approach a new diet serenely, one must already be comfortable with one’s diet, not yet be in the cycle of deprivation and restriction.
If you still have blockages with some foods because of their calories, fat or other, it is surely too early.
Food should no longer be a source of anxiety and obsession in your daily life.
If you now feel ready, that you are on the road to recovery, then go for it!
I can only encourage you in this approach, which is positive both for the environment and for animal welfare.
That said, there is no point in rushing things.
Even if your opinions are close to veganism, or anti-Specism, none of these ideologies or lifestyles will ever encourage you to put your health at risk.
At The End
- Do not feel guilty if you are not yet a vegan.
- Do not overwhelm yourself with all the suffering of animals on Earth, because your disease also makes you suffer.
Also, listen to your body. In particular, when it has been subjected to many restrictions, it can be weakened, you potentially already have deficiencies and an impaired digestive system.
Obviously, all this must remain a pleasure, it should not be a daily headache for you.
To conclude, the most important thing is to find your balance, which makes you feel good about yourself and your body.
There is no such thing as a perfect lifestyle, not all vegans are born with tofu in their mouths so really, blame yourself!
If at any time you have any doubts, do not hesitate to seek help from a doctor.