(This is my first post. I am nervous, but it is going to be okay I guess)
I’ve tried numerous times to follow a raw vegan or fruitarian diet and always failed miserably — I either started “cheating” here and there thinking it is no big deal, but eventually always ended up failing miserably, up to the point where I am thought I would never be able to do it.
Now, the first question that might arise would be “why would someone even want to eat only salad?!” since that is the conception most people have of raw veganism. That, plus that everyone following this kind of lifestyle is a hippie, wears colorful harem pants and is always barefoot, does yoga in the local park and talks about “having found their spiritual path”. Well, I am or do none of these things. And neither does it make sense to try to apply these attributes to a certain way of eating (and living, but more on that later).
Of course, raw veganism is so much more than salad. It is basically all fruit and vegetables you can imagine, eaten in their raw, uncooked form, and eating as much as you want of them. I’ve always liked fruits and vegetables, and as I’ve grown older and did a lot more research on nutrition in general, I came to appreciate the fresh, clean and crisp taste and feeling you get when consuming these raw foods.
Why is it appealing to me personally? Since I know that I will talk about that a lot, I might as well start here: I am suffering from multiple eating disorders, which actually started out by me wanting to eat “healthily”, trying to cut out as many “harmful” foods as possible, and, when you are already eating a relatively healthy vegan diet, this becomes tougher and tougher as the process goes on. During the height of my anorexia 2015/2016 I was actually pretty much eating only lettuce and a few vegetables like carrots, zucchini, mushrooms and bell peppers (and downing up to 5 liters of coffee and diet soda; so much for the health aspect), which, essentially, came pretty close to a raw vegan diet when considering the foods I was eating, but was essentially only the manifestation of my disordered eating, the increasing fear of foods and the feeling that any other food would make me “unclean” and “unhealthy”. This is NOT what my experiment of Raw-tember (came up with a fancy time here, don’t ya think) is supposed to be like.
I am currently suffering from binge eating and bulimia and have been putting my body through a lot. I want to give my body a break from literally violating it with (junk) food and help it to clean and rebuild itself from within.
But why don’t you just eat in moderation? Have you tried low-carb? (Raw) veganism shouldn’t be attempted by someone suffering from an eating disorder!
Number 1) First and foremost do I agree with the ethical and environmental standpoint of veganism 100%. I went vegetarian at age 11, it being the early 2000s and me growing up in rural southern Germany, and made the cut to veganism in my early 20s after having experimented with it on and off during my teens. My eating disorders completely wrecked my logic and my diet, but again, more on that in another story.
Number 2) To anyone who has ever experienced binge eating or reactive eating, “moderation” sounds like a lame joke. I am not saying that people who have overcome binge eating can’t eat in moderation, but for me, it is not possible. During my worst phases, I would be able to binge on anything and am still very prone to most foods. Eating fresh fruit and vegetables, you are able to eat a lot more food volume than with any other food, since it has such a low caloric density. Also, it makes you feel satisfied rather than just stuffed — plus eating 500g of fruits and vegetables does not nearly come close to 500g cookies calorie wise, and most likely the cookies will make you feel tired, sluggish and, in the worst case, just crave more food.
Number 3) The low-carb vs. low-fat thing is driving me crazy. I’ve come to the point where I accept that everyone has their own beliefs on what is better, but also to where I want to listen to my body and what works best for me. Ever since going vegan, I’ve cut down my fat intake drastically for various reasons (one being adult acne) and I have found that my body is doing a lot better on mostly carbs. I have better digestion, more energy and was able to maintain my ideal bodyweight and -shape without hardly trying and eating 2500+ calories a day.
(I’ve had doctors, therapist, friends and family tell me that in order for me to stop binge eating, I need to increase my fat and protein intake and, to exaggerate, all my problems would go away. They did not — binge eating and bulimia are rarely about physical hunger. I do, however, agree, that during reactive eating while I was at a very low weight, my body craved and needed nutrients)
Lastly, I almost feel the need to address the issue of (raw) veganism and eating disorders. In my case, I went vegan before I developed a (diagnosable) eating disorder and did not do it to have an excuse to cut out most food groups or to lose weight. That being said, I was allowed a vegan diet during my inpatient stay. What draws me towards raw veganism now is the ethical aspect, my (physical and mental) health, and having found a food or food group that I am able to eat enough of and enjoy it, which is very hard to find for a person who either eats 400 or 10 000 calories, either only eats lettuce or kills a family’s weekly amount of food in a couple hours. My advise (which I don’t even feel in the position to give any) to anyone who considers or is intrigued by a fruitarian lifestyle would be to clearly investigate their motivation behind it and being honest with oneself. I will go into detail about my personal goals and reasons in the next post, but one reason that I started this blog is actually to record my process, be accountable and honest to myself and also talk honestly and openly about my struggles.
So far I have completed 4 days of being a fruitarian and so far I have been feeling a lot better than I did before. Let’s see how it continues!