ED Recovery & Vegetarianism/Veganism
There’s been some interesting discussion going on in blog land lately. Have you noticed?
On one hand we have the lovely miss Gena starting a series on how veganism has helped people recover from eating disorders. On the other hand we have the brilliant Sophia who wrote a post on how choosing a diet such as veganism or raw foods after an eating disorder can really just mask a continuing unhealthy obsession with food.
Quite the conundrum, eh?
Sophia posted a link on her post to an article from The Daily Beast called “When Veganism is an Eating Disorder”. It essentially discusses this same issue and how the prevalence of vegetarianism is higher among eating disorder patients than in the rest of the population. I was intrigued and sent the article to my mother, a pediatrician and eating disorder specialist. We talked about it later that night.
My mom said she does have a fair amount of patients that say they don’t eat meat. She would never force anyone to eat meat, but since they are in the hospital for an eating disorder they will have to replace it with some other protein source of equal calories. She said that often times the patients say they don’t eat meat, but once their hunger comes back and they don’t like the other options they’ll began accepting fish or chicken.
One of the interesting suggestions in the article is that parents shouldn’t allow their children to be vegetarians until college. This seems a little controlling, but I understand the point. I know plenty of children and teenagers that become vegetarians and then only eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or pasta. My mom claims these people aren’t really vegetarians, but what she’s getting at is that they aren’t healthy vegetarians. There is a right and a wrong way to not eat meat. It is important to get in plenty of vegetables, protein, and healthy fats if you’re going to eliminate an entire food group.
I don’t know really know if I can side with either Gena or Sophia. I definitely understand how being a vegetarian or vegan can just be a way to avoid even more foods, but I also think it can be a way to fall in love with food all over again. I guess it depends on the motive and the person.
My experience is a bit different as I didn’t become a pescatarian/vegetarian/vegan/unlabeled undecided eater until after I had recovered from anorexia. I ate plenty of meat as I was gaining weight. When I did break the news to my friends and family, however, I can understand how they would be concerned. For anyone with a history of food restriction, hearing that they are eliminating certain foods sends warning signals. But eventually I proved that I was eating enough and eating enough of the right foods. And I think the sheer amount of m&ms my mom has watched me eat in one sitting gave her some confidence that I wasn’t going to be losing tons of weight any time soon.
- What do you think about this topic? Is it okay for those recovering from eating disorders to become vegetarians or vegans? Or is it really just another unhealthy relationship with food?
- Do you have any personal experiences to share?