Veganism with a history of eating disorders?


Jan 17, 2018
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Ok so first off, for me personally it has nothing to do with health, and everything to do with animal welfare/ environment.
I went veggie very very late by most standards - it was about 2013 and I am now 27 (I cared about animal welfare, but at the time I was in denial about free range etc etc)

I am now attempting to go vegan, but I have had bad/ unhealthy eating patterns for as long as I can remember. Name an eating disorder, I've had it at some point, basically.

Im currently overweight. I know that right now going full vegan will set off something in my brain (I know it's nonsense) that says I need to be underweight. I desperately want to cut out the eggs and dairy, but at the same time I am trying to understand my stupid back-and-forth brain that is making me starve myself or want to eat everything in sight. I'm finding it frightening and draining and humiliating that I can't deal with it.

I am so scared of being vegan simply because Ive never known anything other than gorging or starving.

If anyone relates to this I would appreciate a reply because all I can think is "silly child" when I think about this
I battled an eating disorder while at university and it took a long time for me to start to shift my mindset after that and I'm still very hard on myself and show tendencies like it again once in a while. I have to be very observant and nip it in the bud basically, when it creeps back in. I used to restrict in very extreme ways and sometimes the idea of doing that is very comforting. It feels safe and like you're in control of some aspect of your life... BUT what I try to remind myself of (often!) is the negative effect it had on my overall health, both physical and mental. I try to focus on fitness these days so make sure to eat not only like a vegan, but also in a way that fuels my body so that I can go into the gym 5-6 times a week and have fun and feel strong and energetic. I very much remember what it was like to not have my period anymore, always need naps in the afternoons and suffering from low blood sugar and dizzy spells and I never want to end up there again.

There is a natural element of selectiveness when you eat like this. I never think of it as restricting myself to vegan foods... instead I think of it as choosing plantbased foods that will make my body the strongest it can be. For me the difference is crucial as I go about my every day life. I'm choosing to give myself health, rather than taking away animal products. Does that make sense?

If I were you I would pick something to replace the eggs and dairy with, in your head. Don't focus on the fact that you're taking those away, instead focus on that thing you're adding into your life and diet that maybe you didn't do before. If it helps maybe even take one at the time? Start with eggs or dairy, or start with milk and then try to also cut out yoghurt for example if you want to take even smaller baby steps. If you want to make a sustainable change in your life you might as well watch your speed and make sure you can cope rather than do it all at once only to fail and feel like you've let yourself down so badly that it takes you another year to just muster up the courage to try again.

I would do it like this; cut out eggs, and introduce avocado on toast (for example). So research different ways to do cool versions of avocado on toast (lots of amazing ideas on pinterest) and get all excited about that. Don't think about the egg thing and how you can't have them. You can! You're just not doing that at the moment - instead you're making yourself into the avocado on toast queen! And then see how you go and when you feel ready start to replace the dairy too. Just to be clear I'm obviously not saying you need a direct replacement (because those exist in another form of course, like if you like ice cream you can just have soy, rice or oats based ice cream instead of dairy), I mean something to mentally focus on in a positive way so that you ADD to your diet and focus on that. Forget about the cutting out part. That will happen automatically.
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Perhaps I shouldn't be writing anything about this, since I am lucky to have avoided eating disorders, but ... aren't eating disorders all about hating one's body and wanting to make it disappear, either by making it extremely fat (and therefore invisible in our thinness-worshipping society), or by making it extremely thin (to the point where it becomes smaller and smaller until it disappears)? Veganism is about having compassion for every living being, including oneself. As a vegan, you would be putting only good things in your body -- things that don't come from a system of torture, exploitation, and suffering. Do you think you could approach veganism in a totally love-focused way, so that the love automatically overcomes the self-hate?

Not everyone loses weight on a vegan diet. Neither I nor my husband did, and neither of us is thin (I'm "normal" and he's "obese"). If you were eating reasonably healthy before going vegan, and if you make sure you're getting enough calories and fat, it's possible that your weight might stay the same.
Also I would highly recommend taking a multivitamin (mainly for B12 and iron) if you are prone to restricting.

You want to be really careful with multivitamins, especially with iron. You can easily get too much iron.

As a vegan, you only really need to take vegan vitamin B12, vitamin D, and DHA supplements, unless you have other specific deficiencies. Here is a good reference:
Actually eating disorders are usually about control. I've had several and have been fine for a few years. I used to count calories and starve myself which eventually led to hospitalization. I've also binged and purged as well. It takes a lot of counseling and self love to truly overcome the issues. I haven't had any issues since going vegan. I'm actually healthier now than I have been ever. If it's a real concern for you I would talk to a counselor that's vegan friendly about it first.
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