06/11/2012

On Veganism and Eating Disorders



I've been reading a whole lot of things about beauty, weight, eating and working out in the past few days and I've had a couple of interesting conversations about it with friends and family, so I felt like sharing a story with you.

I may or may not have mentioned in this blog that I had eating disorders throughout my late teens and early twenties. I consider myself completely healthy now - here's how I got here.




I have always been conscious about what I eat. Growing up, women around me dieted all the time and my childhood best friend was a ballet dancer (she turns 33 today and is still absolutely gorgeous). I remember being 8 and looking at my Barbie, thinking, "I want to be this thin". That night, I did so many push-ups that I threw up. All I wanted was to be "perfect" - I believe this was the word that defined so much in my life. I became a vegetarian at 11, but for ethical reasons.

In my teens, I wanted to be an actress, which basically meant dieting constantly. I dreamed of Hollywood success, of finally being perfect. Seeing myself on camera was awful, I constantly looked for flaws and reasons why I would never be successful. My thighs were too big, my waist not small enough, my boobs not Playboy-esque enough. There was always something wrong.




At 19, I moved to Los Angeles to study theatre and go on auditions. When I told a girl that I sometimes threw up after meals, her reaction was, "so? Who doesn't?". I realised that perfection had a backside - and I was ready to take it on. Another girl from my acting class taught me vomiting "techniques" and how to make sure I managed to throw up. It was such a distorted world.

When I came home to Stockholm, I finally got treatment. With the help of a nutritionist, my GP and an amazing therapist, I finally started to learn how to think differently about food, my life and my body. I found the underlying reason for my illness: my perfectionism had driven me to depression. I had to re-teach myself how to perceive my own emotions in order to feel better.

 Fast forward to 2012.

After quitting my office job, I finally decided to do what I have been planning for such a long time: go vegan, for the animals, for the planet and for myself. It has been a long transition and I am still far from there, but so far it's been an amazing journey. I have learned so much from books, websites and other vegans that I've talked to online. My body feels much healthier: that sluggish tiredness that I have carried with me for so long has lifted and my skin finally has some colour, as opposed to dull grey. And my stomach! From 2009 on, I have suffered from bloating, horrible stomach burns and aches. I could wake up in the middle of the night feeling like someone had stabbed me in the stomach. My doctors told me to take pills and supplements, to eat more this and less that. No one told me to simply cut out milk and eggs. As soon as I did that, my tummy found its natural health and I haven't had a stomach ache since (no, I am not lactose intolerant).
I don't have to sacrifice anything: I still have dessert, burgers, pizza, ice cream, hot chocolate. It's just that things are tweaked now.

Sometimes I wonder how this kind of "controlled" eating can actually do me good, as being too controlling with my diet is what made me ill in the first place. Then I realise that now I eat to live, to nurture myself and to enjoy my food - and since I eat healthy, natural, real foods, I have the feeling of being good to my body every time I feed it. No food I eat is "bad" or "naughty" and I'm doing my best to disconnect my food from my emotions.

Learning how what we eat affects the planet, the animals and ourselves has taught me that eating is so, so much more than just calories and fat percentage. I never even look at the calories in the food I eat and I'm proud to say that, as Phoebe from Friends said, "I don't give a tiny rat's ass" about my weight! I haven't been on the scales for almost seven years! What I care about is doing yoga, running in the park, making cupcakes, learning how to meditate, having a huge cup of green tea, making veggie burgers for my boyfriend, going out to eat a vegan Chinese buffet in Camden, sleeping in, trying on new clothes and just living my life as a happy, healthy, vegan 29-year-old.



Me plus vegan hot chocolate!


Above (wonderful) picture from Pinterest and Black Swan pic from Facebook

13 comments:

  1. I think it's amazing how you went vegan and talk about it, definitely makes me reconsider my life choices.

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    1. I LOVE getting comments like this. I am not trying to persuade anyone: it has to come from within you. But I can tell you that my own experiences with veganism have been awesome. If you need any advice or just a chat, email me about it!

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  2. Thanks for sharing! It's important that we do.

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  3. Credo che abbiamo avuto un percorso molto simile: io ho sofferto di disturbi legati al rapporto con il cibo per tanti anni, fino ai miei trenta, e mi sono portata dietro una depressione latente per lunghi periodi. Il mio obiettivo, esattamente come il tuo, era diventare "perfetta".
    Oggi sono guarita perché ho imparato ad accettarmi, ché detta così sembra una frase assai banale, ma il faticoso lavoro che c'è stato dietro ti assicuro che è stato tutto tranne che banale o facile. In più, nel momento stesso in cui ho smesso di inseguire tale ideale di perfezione, il mio peso e metabolismo si sono magicamente assestati.
    Sono diventata vegana per motivi etici, solo per quello, ma è indubbio che la salute ne tragga un gran beneficio. Ci si sente più lucidi, più attivi, più sani insomma. Oltre a provare l'ineguagliabile piacere di poter guardare negli occhi un animale sapendo che non sei il suo aguzzino.
    Come te mi sono domandata se seguire una dieta vegana avrebbe potuto in qualche modo farmi ricadere in qualche circolo vizioso, visto che per anni ho avuto questo rapporto sballatissimo con il cibo, ma poi mi sono risposta che il motivo per cui ho tolto carne, pesce e derivati stavolta non è legato all'apparire più bella e perfetta, ma solamente al mio rispetto per gli animali. Quindi si tratta di qualcosa di profondamente diverso.
    Grazie comunque per aver condiviso la tua esperienza. :-)

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    1. Concordo con ogni parola e vedo che capisci perfettamente. Che bello essere capiti, é anche per questo che amo avere un blog.

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  4. P.S.: e comunque sei bellissima Sascha, hai un bellissimo sorriso, spero di incontrarti un giorno.

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    1. Mille grazie, sono felicissima di questo commento! anche io spero di incontrarti!

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    2. Ha-ha! Io l'ho incontrata!! :) Non solo è bellissima, è pure una intelligentissima ragazza. Ha un accento ADORABILE!
      Comunque, è orribile avere disturbi dell'alimentazione. E come ho letto, è anche causato da quello che ci viene inculcato nel cervello dai media e non solo: la barbie, che è l'immagine della perfezione per le bambine, o diventare attrici, e che cazzo... no, assolutamente, bisogna cambiare questo mondo.
      Inoltre c'è da vedere la differenza tra l'essere grassi e l'essere in forma. Spesso le ragazze hanno una visione così distorta di se da vedere malato ciò che è solo sano.
      Se tutti diventassero vegani non ci sarebbero più persone cicciottelle però :) Hahahaha!

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  5. Grazie per avere condiviso la tua storia. Sono sicura che sarà di ottimo spunto per tante persone che vogliono seguire il tuo esempio, o altri che semplicemente vogliono rivedere alcune scelte o porsi delle domande.

    Non aggiungo altro. Se non che in questa foto sei semplicemente STUPENDA! E non hai bisgono né di un corpo più magro, né tanto meno di un seno da Playboy'cover....non ti i vedrei proprio!!! :-)

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    1. Ma infatti neanche io mi ci vedo :-D peró sai come si é da piccole: niente va mai bene. Chi ha i capelli lisci li vuole ricci, chi ha il seno grande lo vuole piccolo, chi é bassa vorrebbe essere piú alta, ecc...come dice Biancaneve sopra é importante accettare se stessi. Poi ok, io mi alleno e cerco di mangiare sano, ma semplicemente per cercare essere la migliore versione di me stessa che posso essere.

      Grazie mille per il commento sulla foto, é di questo sabato quando eravamo in centro a prendere la prima cioccolata calda della stagione :)

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  6. I'm glad you recovered from your eating disorder, that must have been awful. You certainly look happy and healthy (and very pretty too!) in that last photo.

    Also, I think the black swan was enough to put me off striving for perfection for the rest of my life! x

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  7. I've tried veganism for a month before and really enjoyed it. I didn't have to make too many changes as I already eat a healthy diet free of red meat. I am forever reading about the unhealthy aspects of dairy products so I am really considering going vegan for good. The only thing that puts me off is how much I love fish and how healthy I know it is for me.
    Good to know you're doing so well now :)

    http://www.farfelue.com/

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  8. I've just found your blog and I'm in love! It's so wonderful! You are very brave to talk about your eating disorder, it's very refreshing to see people discussing personal things.

    http://golddustk.blogspot.co.uk/

    x

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