In 2015, I was in the depths of my eating disorder, scared of food, looking for foods to cut out that will lead to weight loss. I was scared, I always assumed that if I wasn’t skinny (keep in mind at that point I was considered ‘normal’ sized, but my perception was that I was I still wasn’t thin enough) then I’d never be accepted by society, I’d never be taken seriously as a health professional, that I would never fall in love. These deep rooted issues lead me to try just about anything to lose weight, but it wouldn’t budge, I was eating around 500 calories a day, drinking 4 litres of water minimum (id drink so much water in the morning id get blurred vison and dizzy which is an electrolyte imbalance, not healthy at all), I had tried paleo, clean eating, keto, literally everything, but there was a new ‘diet’ in town, the whole foods, plant based diet, I saw girls online who had dropped so much weight, quickly, a lot of them had lost their period and said that it was a sign of the body ‘detoxing’, I started straight away and sure enough, I lost my period and had severe, painful cystic acne on my jawline and neck which I told again, was a sign that my body was detoxing.
I started dating a vegan body builder, lived with other vegans and thought anyone who wasn’t vegan was fooling themselves. I did this for 3.5 years, during this time I had lost my period, it came back, stayed for two months straight, left again, hormonal imbalances, acne, weight gain, hair loss, gut issues, anxiety and depression.
I do not blame veganism for this, when done properly a vegan diet can provide everything you need nutritionally. But I had an eating disorder and I couldn’t stop cutting things in, restricting, binging, feeling out of control etc, for three whole years. Around a year ago, I started learning about recovery and that orthorexia wasn’t normal, my obsession with food, weight and my body wasn’t normal. I hated myself, I hated myself so much that I blamed it for everything, and I punished it daily. I realised that this wasn’t sustainable, and my health was going downhill, I was scared for my life at this point. I had fainted twice already, couldn’t get out of bed most days and was depressed. I knew that if I didn’t get help, it was only going to get worse.
So, I threw myself headfirst into the recovery world, I felt at home, I felt understood, I finally felt that my body was the enemy. I realised that I had gone vegan for the wrong reasons, of course I cared for the animals and the environment, but honestly, I don’t think I would’ve been vegan if it hadn’t been for the health benefits. I realised I was feeling out of control around chocolate (calorie dense foods that my body craved because I was starving myself) and had to cut it out, so I went plant based.
A few months into recovery, I realised that I was still afraid of foods, any food that wasn’t vegan, wasn’t an option, but I couldn’t stop thinking about them and I felt horrible.
The more I learnt about eating disorders and recovery, the more I realised that I couldn’t fully recovery unless I was no longer afraid of these foods and that I could have them in my life without shame or guilt. So, I started small, I had a tiny square of white chocolate and I swear, I felt high. It had nothing to do with the taste, the fact that it wasn’t vegan, it was because I had finally listened to my body.
I spent the net month binging, which is normal, everyday was like a party, I wanted to try things I hadn’t allowed myself to eat in years and I realised that I actually didn’t enjoy a lot of them anymore. But the fact that I had no guilt or shame around this time was all the proof I needed to know that I had made the right choice. I felt so connected to my body, my intuition, my soul. This had nothing to do with veganism, but everything to do with listening to my body and taking back the power that diet culture and societies body ideals had taken from me.
Diet wise, I’m still 95% plant based, the food is amazing, cheap and easy, it makes me feel my best, but I also eat intuitively, and no foods are off limits to me anymore. I am the healthiest and happiest I have ever been. I have never felt so in control and at peace with my body and food.
Five months later, I’m happy, satiated, career is thriving, manifesting and attracting so much love and acceptance and none of this has anything to do with my body, it never was.
There is nothing ethical about putting animals’ welfare before your own especially if you have an eating disorder. You might be saving animals, but what about you? This may seem selfish; I hope it does. I made the choice to put myself first, to pour love and attention back into me and it turns out, that when I do this, I was so full of energy and love that I can put that in other places, so I do make more ethical choices, I make environmentally friendly choices and it comes from a place of genuine care this time, not disguised fear.