I recently got in touch with Grace from veganhealthandwellbeing.com and asked her to write a guest post for my blog. I can’t speak for this disorder myself and found her introductory blog post interesting because it was not the first time I had heard of someone who is suffering from an eating disorder turning to veganism. Surely eating such a healthy diet (as healthy as you make it) is so helpful and a huge positive step in the right direction in beginning to recover from such a crippling disorder. Taking an interest in your health, physical and mental, is something that, sadly, not enough of us are doing. There are a few things that I found really interesting in this post as I am sure that you will to. So let me introduce you to Grace…
Many people question why I turned vegan and how it has helped me eat my way through recovery. How come all of a sudden you can eat without feeling guilty? That portion is huge, I thought you didn’t eat? You’re anorexia has obviously been cured now? I still feel guilty. I eat the amount that I know I need for my body. No my anorexia has not been cured, I am not recovered. These are perceptions that friends, acquaintances and even some family members have of me. Anorexia is a mental illness and people forget that. Why? Because they can only see how skinny someone is. But did you know that being skinny is only a symptom of anorexia? Anorexia is in the head. It’s our own mind turning on its self because anorexia has taken over. Just because someone with anorexia has gained weight and is managing to eat, it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t kill them with guilt to do so. Some people in recovery address anorexia as another person. A girl more often than not. They say ‘she’ did to me or I blame ‘her’ for this. I don’t give it an identity. It’s a monster. A monster that I’m gradually destroying with the help of my therapists and dieticians. But that isn’t to say that turning vegan didn’t help me in my recovery. Turning vegan gave me confidence to confront a number of ‘fear’ foods. Fear foods are foods that anorexics are scared of, and oh wow did I have a big list of them. But after educating myself in the vegan lifestyle and the benefits of the amazing regime, it destroyed some of them ideas that I had about certain foods. Bananas for example. I was flipping terrified of them. Why? I don’t know. And now, im even still scared of them. I haven’t touched one in over a year now, otherwise I panic. But turning vegan is helping me to understand why these foods shouldn’t be scary. I haven’t yet broke down the banana barrier, but im dedicated to do so! Veganism is helping me to understand what our bodies need to be the healthiest version of ourselves that we can be. It’s helped to me understand food and it’s helped me to enjoy and LOVE food. Anorexia is no longer an option on this lifestyle because I know that everything I put into my body is not going to damage it, it’s only going to help it blossom.
When did I turn vegan? Well, in whole heart honesty, I could have labelled myself as a vegan 2 years ago when my anorexia started. I didn’t consume meat or any animal products when I turned to anorexia. But this was not because I wanted my body to be healthy, it was because I was trying to restrict my diet. I thought that I could live off jam and Ryvita crackers and live a happy healthy life. However, I have only labelled myself as a vegan for the past 5 months. Because in these past 5 months I’ve wanted to eat, I’ve wanted to be around food and cook with food. I haven’t been as scared of it. And that’s because I’ve had the mind-set of a vegan, aspiring for ultimate health. So technically, I’ve been a vegan for about 2 years but realistically I’ve been a vegan for 5 months. The period of time when I was in my toughest part of recovery was in the new year of 2015. I’m not going to get all sciencey of what happens in recovery, but one thing I will express to you is that you get HUNGRY. Very hungry!! I mean can you blame my body? I had starved myself for 2 years straight, of course I’m going to be hungry! But this is where it gets weird, and I experienced something that I never thought was a part of recovery… I Binged. I don’t just mean getting a couple of bags of crisps, a chocolate bar and a couple of biscuits. I was consuming whole loafs of bread, whole jars of chocolate spread and whole packets of crackers in the space of about 1 hour. And guess what? I was still hungry after that. I kept asking myself what was happening. I couldn’t stop myself. I don’t eat like this, I have anorexia. I can’t express how mentally draining and painful it is to fight with your body. My head was scared of all these foods. My head was telling me not to eat and that I’m letting myself down. I hated myself. Anorexia was winning. But my body needed food, and once I started eating I couldn’t stop. It felt like an episode of vampire diaries or one of the twilight films. Im sure you know what I mean. You know where the vampire starts sucking the blood from an innocent soul and just can’t stop to the verge of killing them. I was killing myself and my body bounced back and said no you need food. Embarrassment is all I felt. How could I have gone off track like this? I can’t put on weight. I’d run to my bedroom, go to sleep and shut the world out. I was filled with shame and worry. Anorexia was telling me how awful of a person I was because I ate some bread. CARBS! I ATE CARBS! That was a no-go in my anorexic mind. But the even more damaging thing is, this happened every morning and every night for about 3 months straight. Recovery isn’t just someone giving you a free pass to eat as much as unhealthy junk as you want to get your weight to a healthy state. It’s draining. It’s mentally and physically painful. Its hell, and I truly believe that I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.
Days before I turned to veganism, I was at my breaking point. I hated life and I didn’t want to be a part of it. I’d lost a lot of my friends, I hated the way I looked and I felt as though I had failed myself. But something happened. I had an epiphany. I didn’t want to die. I wanted to live. I wanted to tell my boyfriend how much I loved him and I wanted to experience life with him. I wanted a future, I wanted a degree. I wanted a big English house in the countryside. I wanted to grow up and live my life. And that’s where I found this lifestyle. A lifestyle that made sense. It didn’t mean that I had to watch my calories, or stress over eating anything damaging to my body. It meant that I could enjoy food without restricting what I could or could not have. Has it cured my anorexia? No, I still feel guilty quite often. I still have to tell myself every day to carry on. But it’s helped. It’s given me my smile back and it’s given me energy. I have my life back, and that’s thanks to veganism.
Please share your thoughts on this topic below. We would love to hear them. A massive thank you for Grace for writing this post. If you would like to see more of Grace you can follow her blog here and give her a warm welcome into the vegan blogging community!