Eating disorders and veganism: the connection and the path to recovery

Most vegans are not obese or overweight, which appeals to people with eating disorders. But this happens not because plant foods allegedly do not allow you to get better (it just gives if you eat harmful, but nevertheless vegan food), but because vegans consciously approach the issue of nutrition and monitor what gets into their diets. body and how it affects them.

About half of the patients who see psychotherapists with anorexia nervosa say they follow a vegetarian diet. Vegetarianism is psychologically suspicious because for some people with nutritional problems it is a way to disguise attempts to lose weight or avoid certain foods. One of the many surveys showed that about 25% of people who switch to a vegan or vegetarian diet admit that they changed their diet in order to lose weight.

In 2012, scientist Burdon-Kone and colleagues found that 61% of current people with eating disorders chose a plant-based diet precisely because of their illness. And in general, those suffering from eating disorders or having a predisposition to them are more likely to switch to vegetarianism. It should be noted that there is also an inverse relationship: some people who choose veganism or vegetarianism put themselves at risk of developing nutritional problems.

Unfortunately, not a single study to date has answered the question of whether the reason for switching to a plant-based diet is a problem with food addictions. However, the analysis of many physicians and scientists shows that the decisive factor in choosing a diet is weight control. The way to solve the problem is not another diet.

How to deal with eating disorders?

Of course, you should consult a specialist. Nowadays, there are many nutritionists whose practice is aimed at treating patients with eating disorders. A trained clinician should work closely with the individual to determine their motivation for choosing a given diet, to examine the patient’s overall attitude towards food. He will draw up a treatment plan that will last not a week or even a month, but much longer.

Even if food is not a problem in itself, developing a healthy relationship with it is essential to rehabilitate eating behavior. The biggest problem for those with eating disorders is maximum control, which oscillates between diet rigidity and chaos. The goal is to find a balance.

Let go of rigid dietary rules. For example, if you forbid yourself all existing desserts (and this is exactly the rule), change it to start with a less strict principle: “I will not eat desserts every day.” Believe me, you will not gain weight if you enjoy your favorite ice cream or cookies from time to time.

Not a diet. The more you limit yourself, the more likely you are to become preoccupied and obsessed with food. So instead of focusing on foods you “shouldn’t” eat, embrace foods that will revitalize your body and make it strong. Think of food as the fuel your body needs. Your body (not just your brain) knows what it needs, so listen to it. Eat when you’re really hungry and stop when you’re full.

Ask regularly. During your illness, you may have gotten used to skipping meals and prolonged fasting. To avoid preoccupation with food, try planning your diet to prevent unnecessary thoughts about food.

Learn to listen to your body. If you have an eating disorder, then you have already learned to ignore your body’s hunger or satiety signals. You can’t even recognize them. The goal is to return to the internal dialogue in order to eat in accordance with your physiological needs.

However, the basis of the problem of eating disorders is not self-love and self-acceptance. How to deal with it?

When the basis of your self-esteem is appearance, you ignore other qualities, talents, achievements and abilities that make you beautiful. Think about your friends and loved ones. Do they love you for your appearance or for who you are? Most likely, your appearance is at the bottom of the list of reasons why you are loved, and you probably feel the same towards people. So why does looks top your own list? When you pay a lot of attention to how you look, your self-esteem drops and self-doubt grows.

Make a list of your positive qualities. Think of everything you like about yourself. Wit? Creation? Wisdom? Loyalty? List all of your talents, hobbies, and accomplishments. Here, write down the negative qualities that you do not have.

Focus on what you like about your body. Instead of looking for flaws in the reflection in the mirror, evaluate what you like about it. If your “imperfections” distract you, remind yourself that no one is perfect. Even models get their centimeters cut in Photoshop.

Have a negative conversation with yourself. When you catch yourself in self-criticism, stop and challenge the negative thought. Ask yourself, what evidence do you have for this thought? And what are against? Just because you believe in something doesn’t mean it’s true.

Clothes are for yourself, not for the look. You must feel good about what you are wearing. Choose clothes that express your personality and help you feel comfortable and confident.

Stay away from scales. If your weight needs to be controlled, leave it to the doctors. Your goal now is to learn to accept yourself. And it should not depend on numbers.

Throw out fashion magazines. Even knowing that the photos in it are pure photoshop work, they still evoke feelings of inferiority. It’s best to stay away from them until they stop undermining your self-acceptance.

Pamper your body. Instead of treating him like an enemy, look at him as something of value. Treat yourself to massages, manicures, candlelit baths – anything that will make you even a little happier and give you pleasure.

Be active. While it’s important not to overdo sports and exercise, staying active is good for your mental and physical well-being. Long walks in the fresh air will only benefit you.

Ekaterina Romanova Sources:,

Leave a Reply