(As a disclaimer I want to say that I hope no one finds this post offensive in any way. I am simply presenting my story, as it happened – no other implications are being made.)
There was a time in my life I hardly knew what a vegetarian was. I had some general idea, but I honestly couldn’t fathom the concept. I remember as a kid eating a hamburger meal and asking my mom what vegetarians would eat if they were served a meal like this. My mom said that they wouldn’t eat this, that they’d eat something else – like veggies. So in my uneducated mind vegetarian =eating only vegetables.
When I developed an ED I kept up a pretty much vegetarian diet, simply because it was low calorie. Actually the diet I ate was pretty much JUST veggies, so although I didn’t officially adopt the “title” I didn’t eat meat. Although my diet was FAR from healthy (and health definitely wasn’t on my top list of priorities at that point) I was always pretty proud of the fact that I got my 5 servings of fruit and vegetables a day.
I think it’s pretty obvious why people around me became concerned when I was eating little more then fruit and vegetables. After a few months my family did a mini-intervention and begged me to start eating normally again. By that time I was so food deprived that I dug into my forbidden foods – meat, dairy and starches – like there was no tomorrow. That, combined with a slow metabolism and a few overeating episodes, ensured that I gained all my weight back in no time.
But a healthy weight does not automatically = a healthy mind. At least it didn’t in my case. I soon found myself slipping back into my old restrictive ways, This time though I knew other people would notice and I didn’t want them to be overly concerned. So I decided to become “vegetarian”. My reasoning was that if I couldn’t eat meals cooked with meat I didn’t have to eat what everyone else ate, which meant I could make my own, extremely low calorie meals. I slowly slipped back into eating my veggie and fruit based diet, and neglecting all other vital food groups.
When my friends and family first heard about my descision to become a vegetarian they were somewhat apprehensive, but not entirely opposed. My parents even bought me special organic non-meat protien sources so I had something to cook with. Unfortunately these stayed at the bottom of the fridge until they reached their expiery date and had to be trashed. Then they started telling me that my diet was unhealthy and that I needed to start eating meat. I think what they really wanted was for me to start eating SOME form of protein other then egg whites. But I was deluded into thinking that my diet was “healthy” and the way they were eating wasn’t. I genuinely believed that the way i was eating was sufficient for my needs, and that I could exist simply off that.
Well, needless to say I was hospitalized a few months later. At the hospital they told me point blank that I had to eat meat, there was no other alternative. Although I believe this is a backward way of operating, it was the way it was. At this point however I had read up more on animal rights and eating meat was VERY hard for me. Somehow I managed to struggle though, and I tried to bend the rules as much as I could in order to get non meat protein exchanges. After a while I got more used to eating meat, although I was never 100% ok with it.
Immediately after my stay at the hospital I went to visit some friends, one of which had to adopt a vegan diet for health reasons. It was then I was first introduced to green monsters (which I liked :P) and other vegan foods. But to be honest I was scarred of eating most of them because of the calorie content. I remember that I would rarely drink green monsters because they didn’t fill me up, and there were more calories in the drink then I thought was “worth it”. I didn’t even take the nutritional value or health benefits into consideration – it was all calories.
To make a long story short after a second relapse I am now discovering the “healthy” way of eating a primarily plant based diet. I do not label myself as a “vegetarian” because I still eat fish or chicken once a week. I do believe there will come a time I will switch to being full vegetarian, but right now I prefer to go without any label.
I love nuts and nut butters:
I love grains and legumes:
.…………but I also enjoy cheese, yogurt and eggs every now and again.
As far as being vegan goes – I love the concept and the diet, but it’s just not realistic for me right now. I honestly don’t have the money to ensure I would be getting enough vegan protein sources and I believe my health would suffer because of that. I truly do admire all the vegans out there, and I think it’s a really “clean” way of eating. It’s just not for me right now.
I know some people that think vegan diets in particular are just used as an excuse to go on a very low-calorie diet – but this is definitely not the case. Real vegans get plenty of fat and calories in their diet in the form of nuts, seeds, legumes, dried fruit and other such goodies. However there are people out there who eat salad for breakfast, lunch and dinner and think they’re healthy because they’re “vegan” . Nope, it doesn’t work that way. Your body can’t function without enough proteins and fats. So although it’s an awesome lifestyle, I think people that have suffered ED’s in particular need to be careful they don’t use it as an excuse to fall back into their restrictive ways.
All that to say there is no “perfectly healthy diet”. You can have an unhealthy vegetarian/vegan diet just as you can eat healthy while still eating meat. Everyone’s body is different and needs different things – they key is finding what works for you and sticking to that. Be good to your body and it’ll be good to you!
Are you vegan, vegetarian? Why so, or why not?