From my professional and personal experience, I strongly advise that anyone suffering with an Eating disorder or in early recovery should NOT embark in ANY restrictive diet.
Eating disorders thrive on eliminating foods, so with the rise in socially acceptable ‘restrictive diets’ (gluten free, diary free, sugar free, fat free, low carb, paleo, veganism) eating disorders now have room to thrive without being suspected.
What I am NOT saying, is that everyone who follows a vegan diet, or any other restrictive diet has an eating disorder! I work with clients who have severe gut issues and elimination diets can be part of a protocol (under guidance) however, what I am saying is that Eating disorders thrive on restricting certain foods groups and therefore reintroducing all food groups is a crucial part of ED recovery.
It is also important to note that Veganism DOES not cause eating disorders. BUT, in a person who is genetically predisposed to having an eating disorder, the restriction of certain food groups CAN trigger an eating disorder.
6 risk factors for Veganism and Eating Disorders
1.Being vegan is socially acceptable and even considered a healthier way of eating by some people. Eating disorders can hide behind it.
2.Veganism gives a convenient excuse to not eat food. It is much easier to say “I can’t eat that because I am vegan” than it is to say “I can’t eat that because I am terrified of it”
3.Following a vegan diet gives someone a reason to take their own food with them, reinforcing a sense of control.
4.Veganism gives you an excuse not to eat saturated fat (animal products/ dairy etc) which is an important factor when someone needs to restore their weight.
5.Veganism gives you permission to obsess over food and check food labels/ ingredients.
Vegan allows a person to socially ‘showcase’ their eating disorder in public
and indulge in restrictive eating disorder behaviours, hiding behind a shield.
It can be particularly difficult for those recovering from an ED, to go against the social ‘norm’ of restrictive diets, weight loss, vigorous exercise routines, and diet chat. BUT it is important to remember that those behaviours are NOT healthy either, and you are working towards freedom from food rules.