In a previous post I mentioned wanting to get back to Reclaiming Yourself from Binge Eating at a later time. Well this is one such later time.
I want to discuss the connection between binge eating and being vegan/vegetarian. I need to discuss this.
In Reclaiming Yourself from Binge Eating the author Leora Fulvio gives the following brilliant suggestion: if you binge eat, and you’re on a vegan or vegetarian diet, you should abandon this diet. She uses herself as an example. She was vegetarian, started eating meat and she stopped binging.
That’s. An interesting hypothesis lacking in evidence. If I understand this book correctly, Fulvio is a professional, i.e. she has some sort of degree qualifying her to help people with eating disorders. I’m assuming she’s been to uni. And she thinks that she can make claims based on her own experience? I.e. not based on research? Mmmkay. My experience is that if you do that at uni they’ll have your head.
But you know, two can play that game. If we accept her argument as valid, I have a counter argument that must be equally valid.
My binge eating pre-dates my vegetarianism/veganism. I can recall having episodes of binge eating from the age of 10. At 14 I became a vegetarian. I know for a fact that while I did have ethical reasons, I did also think that it was a real clever way to further restrict, because no one would know that was what you were doing. Looking back, I realize it made no difference what so ever because I never liked meat much anyway. But that’s not the point, the point is, I don’t binge because of vegetarianism. I mean clearly, I started that way before.
I was vegetarian from the age of 14 until early 20s. At some point I reintroduced fish and I was pescetarian for years. I did not stop binging then.
Now. A few years ago I started a vegan diet. For the first time. I was vegan, stopped, and now I’m back on the vegan food. Second time. And if you’re wondering how you can be vegan and then stop: because you are stuck thinking that a new diet is a solution to a problem. Especially when media in general strongly advice anyone and everyone, regardless of circumstances, to be on a high (animal) protein diet. If you’re caught up in the vicious circle that is binge eating you are highly susceptible to any type diet propaganda.
I also had an additional excuse; I reintroduced fish, dairy and eggs in my diet after having been diagnosed with PCO. Since my doctor was only concerned with assuring me that it did not mean I couldn’t get pregnant, and by the way: a) didn’t ask, b) the hell am I supposed to ‘have no problem becoming pregnant’ if I don’t ovulate? and c) I’m not sure I trust you much – I did my own research. Apparently, there are studies indicating a connection between being vegetarian at an early age and PCO, because of a zinc deficiency. So you know, my clever brain figured I must be on the wrong diet. It does that. A lot.
Again, did not stop binging.
I did genuinely think, up until quite recently, that the reason for my behavior was because I was not eating properly/wasn’t strict enough with my food intake, thus trying to rectify my behavior via a number of different diets. I’ve now learned this only fuels the disorder. Fantastic. While, at the back of my mind, I do think the vegetarian/vegan (let’s just call it vegan from now on) diet is a clever way to make some foods off limit no part of me thinks it leads to weight loss. (Hello, I can still have ALL the peanut butter.) No part of me feels restricted by a vegan diet. I should probably add that I didn’t decide to go vegan this time, I was just going to cut out dairy to see if it improved my iron uptake, which as I’ve found out, it did. But then it just didn’t seem to make any sense to keep eating the fish and the eggs. So you know, accidentally vegan? Trying to make sure I stay that way this time by e.g. watching Cowspiracy and, more importantly, Earthlings (wept for 30 minutes straight, at which point I turned it off because it seems unreasonable to keep watching something that makes you cry non-stop). Current feelings: I’d rather not support that industry.
Back to the point. I don’t think I’m unique in this by any means; in my case the vegan diet isn’t what causes the disordered eating, it was already there.
But sure, if being on a vegan diet makes you feel restricted then I agree with Fulvio. For me at least, it seems that my binging has more to do with feeling restricted than what I actually eat or not eat. Being vegan doesn’t make me feel restricted. I have a long list of things that do, however. Maybe I’ll get back to that another time.