Being told I'm underweight because I'm vegan?


Feb 18, 2016
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  1. Vegan newbie
My mother suggested I see a doctor to aid me with progressing with a healthy vegan diet which I said was fine by me. My mother has never approached me before with much concern over it which I was always thankful for.
Anyway, this doctor told me that because I'm 5ft 6 and 7 stone 4 I am underweight and she has 'major concerns.' This is strange because I neglected my weight and health before I was vegan and have put on 6 pounds since transitioning. But they didn't take this into account of course and told me that I was not getting any protein which I know just isn't true.
I didn't want to sound like the person who always argues with authority but I couldn't help but feel offended when this doctor told me I cannot do ANY exercise due to my weight. I don't workout that often and have always been the type to just go out for walks.
Now my mother seems convinced that I'm trying to lose weight and this doctor seemed convinced I was unhealthy and not eating enough when I told her I eat rice stir-frys and vegan pasta-bean curry and that I don't skimp on lentils and healthy sugars. None of this made a difference though and she suggested I go back to pescatarian.
(I also always cook my own meals and have used my own money to stock up on tinned pulses and beans)
Protein is much covered here in the forums. I encourage you to do a quick search or look at this thread. You can show your mother the information if you think it will help.

As for your weight, I agree you are underweight. You are actually the same height as me. I weigh 8 st 5 lbs. If I weigh any less I have noticed adverse affects. This is despite the fact that, for my age and weight, I should be able to weigh as little as 8 st 0 lbs and everything should be fine. The fact of the matter is that BMIs are just a vague guideline. You really do want a buffer of fat on your body, particularly for cases when you might get ill, skip a meal if you're busy etc (not to be encouraged), and at your age this is a VERY vital time. Particularly for your reproductive health.

So absolutely, and though this may be hard to hear, I am with your mother. You need to gain weight and be mindful of your body fat ratio, what is more you need to set this right fast at your age. I don't know how long you have been underweight but the truth is that for any period longer than a few months at your age isn't good. I am also concerned because some young women (not all young women, and please do not be offended) turn to veganism because they have got themselves into an orthorexic mindset. Being vegan does not make a person orthorexic, but it does attract these sufferers.

I'm really pleased to hear that you are gaining weight. :party::sun: And it's great to hear that you already know that your health has been neglected because that's a very healthy and optimistic sign about how you want to treat your body now. Veganism is a very healthy way to eat but you will need to eat a lot of wholesome food in order to gain weight. I.e. try not to gain it by eating heavy foods like bread, or processed foods. A little fat (avocados, coconut, nuts and seeds) can also be good. Please also start taking a vitamin B multivitamin, possibly also a iron and folic acid supplement too.

I'd really like to help you here VexRobertson because I've been in a similar position. Please do not hesitate to send me a PM and I will get back to you (same for your mother if you like). I am also aware of other stable natural remedies that can help you whilst you also take on veganism and consult your doctor so long as you're not taking other prescription medications (and sometimes they can still be taken but it's worth a discussion). Your mother, doctor, and everyone here at VeganForum just want you healthy. :)

And, no, you should not be exercising until you reach 8 st 0 lbs at least. That's nothing to take offense with and I'm sure you're not being targeted because you're eating vegan. Your doctor is just very concerned about your weight and your age. Short walks should be fine but remember to eat lots and lots of good, wholesome food.

Please do let us/me know how you are getting on. Any questions don't hesitate to ask.
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Thanks for the reply! I didn't actually know that was considered underweight (I knew I was below average).
I'm not a big workout person anyway but I don't feel I can't exercise because of my weight. My main goal is to actually put on weight and I was upset being told by my doctor that she felt my history of OCD would increase my chances of going down the slippery slope of anorexia which has never been my intent. I guess I was just angry when I posted this.
I will take your advice on board and once again thanks for the reply.
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