Friday, May 22, 2015

Raw Veganism & My Eating Disorder (#Moretothepicture)





"THERE IS NOTHING MORE TRULY ARTISTIC THAN TO LOVE PEOPLE." 
Vincent van Gogh

Even more artistic, if you ask me, is to love yourself. 

Especially if you tend to restrict yourself. I would use not only my eating disorder, but also other diseases like bipolar disorder, borderline, anxiety etc. as an excuse to say "I have THIS disorder, so I can't change, this is just me." Don't get me wrong - i did have an eating disorder and i do get anxiety, but this is no free pass to never change and stay caught up in your mental illness. 

It is of course extremely hard to free yourself from a mental condition like this because your sick mind will do anything to keep you under control. You can't just shake it off, you need to be patient and considerate towards yourself. And you also need to accept that this is who you are at the moment, you are broken, you are hurt, and you can't switch to "perfectly normal and healed" in just a second.

Be patient. It's true what they say: Time heals all wounds. There will be scars, but there will be healing too. Slowly distance yourself from the thoughts and the fears you had. Don't force yourself to "get healthy" at once.

Love yourself. This is - to be honest - the best and the worst, the most difficult and also the simplest advice to give. I never really understood what people meant by that. Love myself? Isn't that selfish? Narcissistic? What about the love of neighbour everybody is preaching?
By now i have learned that self-love can be translated to self-acceptance because loving someone - in my understanding - basically means to accept this someone (or something) the way he, she or it is.

You may ask yourself: what does any of this have to do with raw veganism?

Well.
When i was completely caught up in my eating disorder (read all about that here), i had no acceptance for myself, let alone love. I hated myself - my appearance in particular, but also my personality - and i didn't feel comfortable in my skin at all. I didn't care about my health, and nutritious food was not even a concern of mine at that point. All i cared about - obsessed about - was a perfect, skinny, loveable body because the one i got seemed unacceptable and disgusting and gross. Yep, i hated myself. Back then i would rather starve myself, even die, than be alright with the body i had - and that was working perfectly!!

The turning point for me personally was when my Dad began to get alarming neurological symptoms that lead us to belief he had a neurodegenerative disease. This was when i realised: my father could die, and i am basically killing myself on purpose.

However, even though my mindset had undergone an initial change, my physical state was still the same - after months, years of restriciton, my body wasn't prepared to take in proper food yet. Even a piece of banana was too much for me. Also, i was still afraid - horrified to be honest - to gain weight. Even one additional gram of fat would freak me out. 

So what could i do? How could i start eating again withouth feeling guilty or miserable?

The solution for me was when i read about this "trend" called raw veganism. This "diet" (i was still all about diets) consisted of fresh, raw fruits and vegetables which obviously contain no fat and therefore couldn't make me fat. Since i didn't feel able to chew and digest whole pieces of fruit and veggies, i asked my Mum to cook them to a pulp, or blend them into smoothies. That way i would not feel as full, my tummy wouldn't have to work too hard, and i would still get the necessary nutrients. Even though i was 18 years old at that point, i was basically a baby in terms of digestion. (Actually this was the phase when i would also buy and spoon store-bought baby food on a regularly basis, haha! the fruit ones actually taste quite nice, but i'd keep the hands off the savory ones, yikes!)

The benefits of raw vegan food is that it feels very light in your stomach but contains a lot of vitamins and minerals that have not been destroyed by the heat of cooking. However - and this happened to me too - you will be tempted to not eat enough at first because raw food takes up more space than cooked food without providing enough energy.

You might think: This girl ate nothing but fruits and vegetables? This doesn't sound like recovering from an eating disorder at all.
But you must keep in mind that i came from a past of not eating anything, so eating something is 100% more than before! And also, both having an Eating Disorder and recovering from it is predominantly a mental issue, so it is my mindset and my commitment that counted.

Now that i am typing this, i have "upgraded" my eating from raw veganism to plant-based veganism, and feel absolutely comfortable with that. And with my body, even though nope, i don't look skinny and concerningly sick anymore. But guess what? I don't want it to look like that anymore! No, i do not have the perfect body shape and yes, i did gain quite a bit of weight when i started eating again - but all i want now is to be FIT and ACTIVE! I love being able to have power again without feeling like i will faint or have a heart attack any minute. 

I don't ever diet anymore. Veganism (mostly cooked, but also raw for breakfast and sometimes for lunch) is my lifestyle. I love the way that vegan food (not including vegan junk food such as oreo cookies etc. but sometimes i also go for a bit of chocolate and vanilla soy yoghurts and vegan cakes or cookies because sometimes you need a treat :) has a healing and harmonizing effect on your body and also your environment.

source: instagram
source: instagam

I buy loads of vegetables, fruit, potatoes, rice, buckwheat, oats, quinoa, dates, raisins, and little fun things such as spirulina bars, goji berries, chia seeds, ... and most of the things i buy are organic even though this is much more expensive than the cheap stuff - because loving yourself also means feeding yourself the best food you can find. For me this is vegan, unprocessed, nourishing, mostly organic food.

You can find a grocery list of what i usually have in my cupboard over here! You can also get the PDF version of my grocery guide to save or print by clicking here: 



I don't want to persuade you or anyone else to adapt a vegan diet (i live with a non-vegan boyfriend and three other non-vegan flatmates), but the benefits of a vegan lifestyle stick out a mile. And when you look at several vegan accounts (on instagram for example) you will notice that most of them come from a past of disordered eating. That does not mean that veganism is another form of celebrating an eating disorder - instead, it shows that a vegan diet (and lifestyle!) is gentle, sensible and regenerating enough to make a relatively easy transition possible, from abusive eating to healing eating. Sorry if all this sounds a bit "hippie"-like, but i really do believe in the power of plant-based, vibrant, living food. Because filling your body and building your cells with these foods will make you vibrant and living!

I hope this was helpful in some way.
Wishing you the best on your journey ~



Maisy



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