Hello, ya girl is back with part 2 of last week’s article! This week, I’m focusing on tips and tricks that helped me go vegan in spite of having an eating disorder. Please note that this is not meant to be a substitute for professional mental help, so read at your discretion.
Non-dietary self-care practices to adopt
If you know veganism is the end goal but your eating disorder is in the way, start being compassionate toward yourself first because how you treat others starts with how you treat and view yourself. The following are some self-care tips I would recommend taking up to practice compassion toward self.
Emotions are less intimidating when they are on paper and if you feel in control you are less likely to succumb to the urge to binge. Writing is also a healthy means of getting your thoughts and emotions out in the world as opposed to suppressing them with food.
Call or text a loved one when you feel alone
Since most binge eaters binge in secret, being alone can be a trigger. If you are feeling alone or down, contacting someone who cares about your well-being can remind you that you matter to someone. You don’t even need to be talking about anything related to food: having the reassurance that someone cares about you can encourage you to care about yourself as well.
Limit drug or alcohol-induced food binges
I’m not saying stop drinking and smoking, but just be aware of why you’re drinking and ask yourself if you are using substances to mask your eating disorder. Munchies are fun, but if you’re in a state where you can’t control your food intake sober, mixing alcohol and other drugs is not a good idea (trust me, I’ve done it and it can get messy af).
Change your frame of mind
I mention this in all my posts, but veganism is not a diet – it’s a way of life that treats all living beings as deserving of lives free of undue harm. Yes, being vegan means that you won’t consume animal products so in a sense that is a restriction that can seem daunting at first, but it gets better over time. Also, notice how I wrote “won’t” instead of “can’t” eat animal products? Speaking in this way reminds yourself and others that veganism isn’t a set of restrictions that you follow, but rather the consistent decision to choose compassion over convenience or taste.
Three crucial tips to going vegan with a binge eating disorder
1) Figure out what a binge looks like to you
Unless you’ve fully recovered from your ED (which is rare), I would recommend figuring out what a binge would look like in a vegan version. Most people binge on junk food and luckily in 2020, the options are ABUNDANT (just make sure to read labels and ask the right questions if you’re eating out.). Figuring out what a vegan binge looks like is key because if ever the urge to binge washes over you, you won’t have to compromise your morals as a result.
Also, the “good” thing about a plant-based binge is that you feel less shitty afterward (both physically and mentally) so you’re able to bounce back quicker.
2) Transition slowly
I know that many vegans push the idea that you have to go vegan right away and while there is validity in their sense of urgency, the last thing you want to do if you have an eating disorder is drastically change the foods you have access to overnight. Instead, reduce your consumption of animal products and increase your consumption of plant-based foods until making the complete lifestyle switch to veganism feels natural. One of my favourite whole food vegan influencers and youtubers, @sweetpotatosoul, recommends transitioning over 7 weeks by eating plant-based one day a week the first week, 2 the second, and so on until you’re eating plant-based 7 days a week.
3) Do not track calories, focus on nutrition dense foods
Counting calories can be a major trigger for disordered eating and you should only be tracking calories in the short term if you’re working toward a very specific fitness goal. Not all calories are created equally so instead of tracking calories, focus on eating an abundance of unrefined whole food plant based foods. I recommend using Dr. Greger’s app called “the daily dozen” because there’s no calorie counting or portioning required. The app allows you to easily track the different plant based food groups you should be consuming on a regular basis such as veggies, fruit, nuts and seeds, whole grains, beans, etc.
A final word
If you’re not ready to go vegan yet, that’s fine, but know that your eating disorder does not have to be the reason why. If you’re transitioning, be forgiving toward yourself for slip-ups, but remember the bigger picture and where you stand relative to it. Everyone including you can reduce their consumption of animal products and nearly all of us can go vegan. Try your best not to fall into the victimhood trap where you use your eating disorder as a reason to continue eating animals. Non-human animals have no power over their fate, but as humans who are responsible for billions of them being bred into captivity, tortured, and killed each year, it’s on us to change our habits. All I’m suggesting is that we practice compassion toward self AND toward others.
Thank you for reading and if you suffer from an eating disorder, I’m here for you.