Life without Anorexia

My motto is
'Dont let the sadness of your past & the fear of your future ruin the happiness of your present'

My life at the moment is completely different to how it once was. I spent 5 years sick with anorexia nervosia and depression as well as struggling with self harm and overexercising. I spent 2 years in different treatment centres.
And since 2012 i have been declared healthy from my eating disorder.

I have been blogging for 7 years, and my whole journey is written in my posts. I now represent healthy and happiness. I want to show anyone struggling that it is possible to recover, no matter how hard it may seem.

I now blog about recovery, my life, veganism and positivity!

If you have any questions leave them in the comment section as i am much quicker at answering there, otherwise you can always send an email: lifewithoutanorexia@hotmail.com

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Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Recovering from an eating disorder doesn't mean working out and following a plant based diet and doing morning yoga and drinking kale detox smoothies

Doing those things above - eating a plant based diet, drinking green smoothies and doing morning yoga, they arent bad and there is nothing wrong with that. But i feel like in alot of the recovery communities online those who recover do it just by eating vegan and doing alot of exercise. And no, there is no one right way to recover, everybody recovers differently and that is ok. But for me personally i dont believe that eating a vegan diet and doing lots of exercise while recovering from a restrictive eating disorder is going to help you fully recover. It's still a way to control your eating and your body shape.

I get it, you can enjoy exercise. There is nothing wrong with that, but you also have to accept that if you are underweight, you shouldnt exercise. It's togh to not do something you enjoy, but think... if you can get through the weight gain phase, then you can begin exercising again - if it truly is just something you love and not an obsession. If it isnt an obsession then it shouldnt be so hard to stop, because you know that being allowed to do something you love can be a goal for you and a motivation. But if you are obsessed... then it is extremely hard to stop because you feel guilty for being still and you begin to think you are going to get fat from not exercising. I remember while i was at Mando there was a girl who used to do alot of exercise as she was an athlete (In some form) and i couldnt understand why she found it so easy to rest.... how she could go from so much exercise to being ok doing nothing for weeks on end. And i struggled like crazy to sit down, i had the staff on my heels as i tried to walk, stand and get up every chance i had. And i felt guilty for sitting, for resting combined with the guilt of eating... but that showed that at that time my relationship with exercise wasnt healthy. It was an obsession which is why it was so hard for me to not do it because i felt that that was my way of coping with eating. And as i recovered i had to find my love of exercise again, which i had before i became sick. (Of course who knows.. maybe that girl did find it tough to rest, but i spoke to her a little and from what i gathered she didnt struggle with the resting, even if she missed her sport and exercise it was more tough for her to cope with the food and eating rather than not being allowed to exercise). 

You can exercise again, but you have to realise that when you are underweight you cant and shouldnt and especially not if it is an obsession. Then you either need to completely stop or begin to lessen your exercise, because you cant keep exercising when it is a compulsion and obsession... you wont ever find the balance when you force yourself to do it because you are worried about your body changing if you dont or you feel you need to compensate for eating.

Recovery is NOT about turning into a fitness freak and gym rat. You might think i am hypocritical for saying that, but what i want to get at is that the way i live is the way i have choosen to live and enjoy living my life. That doesnt mean that once you recover from your eating disorder you have a lifestyle like mine.... no, you find a lifestyle that works for YOU, that makes you happy. You DONT have to join a gym, you dont have to workout once you recover. That is a choice you make if you enjoy it, if you dont... then thats ok as well. You dont need to exercise to maintain your weight, you can eat the amount your body needs and maintain your weight that way and you DONT need to change or shape your body either. 

And when it comes to veganism, it doesnt have to be restrictive and i dont have a problem with veganism however i dont think people should turn to veganism while recovering from a restrictive eating disorder. Because then it still becomes a very restrictive diet. I mean fine if you want to drink soy milk instead of regular milk or use soya yoghurt instead of normal yoghurt or eat quorn instead of red meat... but when you are recovering from underweight then your body needs all types of food and nutrients and eating lots of fruit, vegetables, beans etc might be hard for your body to digest (ok i know non vegan foods are also hard to digest...). But i generally feel that veganism is just a way of controlling your food intake and eating safe foods. Can you honestly say you are vegan because of the animals and the planet... and not just because you dont want to eat certain foods or are scared of certain foods?

I mean if you really want to be vegan, then do that once you are weight restored and healthy mentally... then you have the rest of your life to be vegan, thats your choice. But during your recovery and weight gain, try to eat all foods and face fear foods. Just eating a plant based diet or eating some type of HCLF or Raw food diet while recovering from a restrictive eating disorder... it just doesnt work for me. Its a way of compensating, saying..."sure i'll eat, but i'll only eat certain foods and they are only safe foods and i would like to only gain 0,1kg per month etc etc etc" but thats not how recovery works. Recovery is about facing your fears, overcoming restrictions, finding health and balance and happiness. NOT controlling your food intake obsessively, not trying to shape and change your body, not trying to compensate for eating and not letting exercise take over your life.

Dont let some social media accounts where people who are "recovering" are eating child size portions and working out what seems obsessively (of course, who am i to judge). Of course recovery is different for everyone and it takes time and there are different stages, but dont think that just because others are exercising that that is what you should do as well or just because everyone else is eating protein powders and questbars that you need to do that in recovery as well. If i am honest, i sometimes think that following a bunch of recovery accounts can do more harm than good. Because it can make you stuck in the "recovery identity", scared to actually fully recover because then you arent "recovering" you are recovered. But also because some accounts are very triggering and shouldnt be saying they are recovering when clearly they arent. (And of course, i have been one of those who has done that... said i was recovering on my blog when i clearly wasnt and people called me out for it. They told me i had lost weight in the photos i had posted and that my food diaries showed just how little i ate. And at the time i hated those comments, but now i realise that it was the truth but i was so stuck in my illness that i couldnt see it myself and i was trying to fool myself that i was actually recovering just because i ate even though i exercised to compensate and ate extremely little).

I know this post is long and not so "to the point". But i want you all to understand that recovering means facing your fears, stepping outside of your comfort zone, NOT compensating and compromising with your eating disorder and still holding onto your eating disorder. You want to break free and that means fear, anxiety and guilt but it also means you get stronger!!


12 comments:

  1. Veganism was the best thing for my recovery. Eating vegan gave me purpose and passion. I never knew how much animals suffered in slavery for our food unnecessarily. It gave me a reason to get better. I don't know where all your negativity is coming from Izzy, a vegan lifestyle has helped so many people recover from their eating disorders. The vegan lifestyle is about compassion, learning to be compassionate towards animals helped me become more compassionate towards myself.

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    1. Your type of thinking sounds like a healthy type of thinking and not eating vegan because of restriction. But there are many who just classify themselves as began so that they can keep controlling get their food and not have to eat fear foods. But of course if you are doing it for ethical reasons, but the important thing is to know yourself why you are choosing to eat a certain way and to be honest with yourself.

      I have no problem with veganism, I think it can be good however when you suffer from a restrictive eating disorder I don't think just eating vegan is going to help you recover (or maybe it will, everyone is different) but I don't think someone should label themselves.... sure if they want to eat 95% vegan but if they that 5% of the time want to eat some non vegan food I think they should be ok with that and not feel like a failure or feel guilty. So my problem isn't veganism, more when people tyr ti veganism to still control their food and hold onto their eating disorder.

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  2. I think Izzy is more talking about the online community of recovering vegans who clearly are using veganism, in part, to make food "OK" or to prevent feelings of guilt from eating (like feeling virtuous about eating a certain way....which is kinda similar to the way most feel while engaging in restriction). I don't know how to explain it properly, but I feel you can just sort of tell when someone *thinks* they are recovered but are still clearly ruled by food identities and control. I have also seen many genuine recoveries that involve veganism, that come from a place of learning compassion and love for others and the self. I think it's a question of motives, not necessarily the behaviour or belief itself. I for one have used special diets - including veganism - to help justify my eating or help me feel good or safe about my food choices. I had to leave it behind as I eventually recognized that it was just echoing my ED behaviour. Now that I am fully recovered, I eat a vegetarian diet, but my motives and my mind are clear and untroubled. I don't think this post was intended to be a blanket statement saying veganism is bad or isn't true recovery. Its more a warning to be careful with diets in recovery. EDs are diseases that are tricky and apt to manifest in many many ways, and subscribing to a specific diet can be dangerous for SOME. Not for all.

    Am I wrong in my interpretation? I think that posts like these just tend to ruffle feathers, because people sometimes take things personally...

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    1. It's always hard to try to get across my thinking with posts and it can seem like an "attack" on people which I don't mean. Because I don't think veganism is bad,but for those using it as a way of continuing to restrict, then it isn't good. But of course someone can physically and mentally recover by eating a plant based diet, everyone is different so I'm not going to say that you absaloutly can't do it. However I have found that there are alot of people eating that way just to keep restricting and are scared of foods which makes them eat a plant based diet. But also from what I understand, those who follow a plant based diet as a way to keep restricting often don't eat eniugh compared to those who eat that way for other reasons and make sure to get the energy amount they need. But as you say motive and reason is important and it's about being honest to yourself.


      I really hope no one feels offended by this post, it's more to get you thinking about why you do things.

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    2. It must be weird to be constantly picked apart and analyzed by strangers... Everyone has their own perception of reality - theirs AND yours, lol. I agree with you entirely - veganism (or whatever floats your boat) can be simply wonderful, but when one has a history of EDs or other addictive disorders, you need to constantly check your motives. That's all!

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  3. This post was very helpful for me from where I'm at in my recovery atm. I'm currently struggling to find my own healthy way back to life. I want to have all I dream of. I want to be able to eat whatever I want without the guilt creeping up on me with every bite. I want to exercise because it's fun and because it's something I choose to do 'cause I love it and not as a form of compensation to "earn" food. I want my happiness and freedom back! Izzy - You are a Huge inspiration to me and I admire your strength and courage to stand up for yourself and all that you believe in. I love it that you go your own way and do what's best for You. Lots of hugs from me to you

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  4. I was born vegetarian, and even before my ED I read about veganism. I educated myself on the suffering of animals and the planet; how many sentient beings we kill every second for our imaginary"needs", how much nature is destroyed. My parents understood why I want to not support those industries (as vegetarians they still eat some animal products eg milk, eggs), but wanted to be sure that it's ME and not the ED. After a few weeks, I was weight restored again (after a relapse) and ate more food in one go than they ever did haha. I became truly happy and cheerful again!
    But what is my point? I agree with you Izzy, many recovering anorexics turn to this lifestyle without even understanding the principles and still eating unhealthy (lettuce leaves and tomatoes 24/7 ... seriously? We have pizzas as well!). It isn't veganism that is the problem but them. It's all about the motives one has.
    I am by no means attacking you Izzy! Just wanted to reinforce that their EDs are the problem, not anything else.
    And I saw you wrote in another post that you don't want to share your feelings too much on here to avoid negativity. Please, don't feel restrained (is this the word? Haha), this is your blog and do whatever helps you!!
    Best wishes :))

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    1. Yes exactly. That's pretty much the point I wanted to make. I mean wuth veganism you can get all the energy and nutrients you need and think delicious vegan pizzas and burgers and delicious filling salads. But when veganism is due to restriction and the motivation behind it is because of fear and fear foods then it's not good. But thank you for your comment as that was pretty much the point of my post :) and thank you... though I feel I don't want t write too much about my feelings as it can be triggering and getting alot of worried comments which I would prefer to avoid :)

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  5. I understand where you are coming from, but on the other hand I find your entry a little bit ironic.
    You have mentioned before that it is a drag for you always being forced to be put in connection with your past. That people will always look in a critical way on your amount and choice of food and exercise etc.

    But could you imagine that anyone who has been suffering from an ed, but afterwards sincerely turning to veganism because of ethical reasons,(or maybe he or she was already vegan before) will find oneself in a similar Situation? People will always speculate if you are only eating vegan to keep your weight down or avoid certain food and so on.

    Of course, you are right, it's really no solution to betray yourself and still stick to the illness this way. But that does not have to be the reason for choosing a vegan dtie and why would anyone who is convinced of veganism eat meat or dairy in recovery all of a sudden?

    Love
    k

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  6. Hey Izzy :)
    I was vegan and gluten free due to allergies -- four years prior to my start of my eating disorder, but even during the first phase of recovery I ate eggs, fish, and wheat/gluten products while inpatient in a hospital. All I can say is that the nutrients I needed were much easier to obtain via grains, fish, and eggs because the nutrients in them needed to live can be absorbed in just small amounts of them. At the time I was very upset, but honestly now that I look back on it, I am happy the way things went. I had a daily caloric intake of about 3,000 calories. 3,000 calories in terms of vegan/gluten free foods is very hard to obtain in normal sized portions. In order to meet my daily intake in the hospital as a vegan I would have had to eat three times as much food! For example, I could've had tofu in place of fish, but then I would have needed to eat three big hunks of it instead of just one medium sized piece of fish just to get "xx" grams of protein!
    So, yes, I understand the feelings of sadness that come up when you feel like you are betraying chickens and cows and little piggies-- I have been there! But, just because you have to eat it in the present does not mean that you have to restrain from veganism forever, just as Izzy mentioned in this post!!
    I wish luck to you all <3
    <3 Gracie

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    1. Yes exactly. If someone wants to go vegan after they have gained weight/mentally in a better place,then that's option but like you say it can be hard to eat the amount you need. But it's very individual.

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  7. Hey Izzy :)
    I was vegan and gluten free due to allergies -- four years prior to my start of my eating disorder, but even during the first phase of recovery I ate eggs, fish, and wheat/gluten products while inpatient in a hospital. All I can say is that the nutrients I needed were much easier to obtain via grains, fish, and eggs because the nutrients in them needed to live can be absorbed in just small amounts of them. At the time I was very upset, but honestly now that I look back on it, I am happy the way things went. I had a daily caloric intake of about 3,000 calories. 3,000 calories in terms of vegan/gluten free foods is very hard to obtain in normal sized portions. In order to meet my daily intake in the hospital as a vegan I would have had to eat three times as much food! For example, I could've had tofu in place of fish, but then I would have needed to eat three big hunks of it instead of just one medium sized piece of fish just to get "xx" grams of protein!
    So, yes, I understand the feelings of sadness that come up when you feel like you are betraying chickens and cows and little piggies-- I have been there! But, just because you have to eat it in the present does not mean that you have to restrain from veganism forever, just as Izzy mentioned in this post!!
    I wish luck to you all <3
    <3 Gracie

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