Meal Prep, Veganism, & Eating Disorders

I recently read an article claiming that meal prep, veganism, and healthy eating on Instagram can trigger eating disorders. At first when I read the article, I felt embarrassed/ashamed, because as a vegan dietitian who loves to meal prep, and as a person who recovered from disordered eating, I would never want my posts to make someone feel inadequate or triggered in any way. My intention for showing my meal prep and food photos is to demonstrate how creative, nutritious, and easy plant-based eating can be.

What this article failed to mention is that eating disorders are not about food (seems counterintuitive, right?) Many people (myself included) develop eating disorders as a result of trauma and/or underlying depression and anxiety. To blame social media or pretty pictures of salad in mason jars takes the focus away from the complex causes and treatment of addictive behavior and maladaptive coping mechanisms.

That being said, some of my meal prep photos do feature recipes low in calories, protein, and fat, so the article made me think “do I really want to present veganism in a restrictive way”? (the answer is NO because I believe in mindful/intuitive eating and I know restriction often leads to bingeing).

A huge part of my recovery was intense therapy. Another aspect of my recovery was learning about nutrition and how to adequately fuel my body (from an RD). I learned how to prepare food and enjoy it without anxiety, which led to my love of cooking and meal prep. I learned that a balanced diet includes all types of food- including veggies AND ice cream.

I learned that messages about dieting, weight control, and health will always be there and that’s ok because through therapy I gained the skills to acknowledge what does and doesn’t serve me, without placing blame on things that could possibly be triggering.

In treatment, I also reflected on my reasons for being vegan. I became a vegan when I was 15 due to many reasons, some of them more selfish (like wanting to lose weight). I then learned about animal cruelty and the impact of factory farming on our Earth. But because of the association between veganism, weight, and food restriction, it was absolutely essential for me to let go of my vegan diet during treatment. I was able to return to veganism when I was stable in mind and body. I now use my nutrition knowledge (as a dietitian) and my passion for veganism to share how easy, nourishing, healthy, and satisfying this lifestyle can be, with the right intentions. Being aware of my own history, I would never want to promote veganism solely for weight loss. I think adopting a more plant-based diet can be a useful tool for overall health and is the most sustainable way of eating for the health of our planet.

If you feel like you might be using veganism/vegetarianism to mask an eating disorder, I encourage you to please let go of labels and honestly assess your intentions behind this lifestyle based on compassion for all beings- including yourself.

I have a lot more to say on this topic and I will share those thoughts in another post. But for now, I hope you take time for yourself and do things that bring you health and healing in mind, body, and soul.

-Jess

Advertisements

Feed Your Soul!

I’m finally done with another semester of being a nutrition student, yay! This semester was probably my toughest one yet because of the amount of courses I decided to take, along with yoga teacher training, balancing a job, and trying to fit in time for my own yoga practice. One thing that definitely helped me this semester was fitting in time to de-stress. Yoga helped, as did some other activities, such as baking, spending time outdoors, and curling up with a good book. If you find yourself overwhelmed, I recommend doing some activities that take your mind off whatever is stressing you out. During my finals week, I realized how important it is to do things that feed your soul instead of focusing either exclusively on work/obligations or doing things that provide a sense of fleeting fun.

Although technically the following recipe isn’t a “baked good”, it still kept me occupied in the kitchen and turned out to be a really healthy, filling little treat. Coming up with cheaper alternatives to my favorite packaged snack foods is now an official hobby, so I present to you, my raw balls. Okay, get your mind out of the gutter. These delicious balls are made of (mostly) all raw ingredients and are chock full of healthy, plant-based fats and fiber. They also make a great present if you haven’t bought your holiday gifts yet.

 

Raw Vegan Ballsphoto-48

Chocolate Chip Variation

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups medjool dates (make sure you take the pit out of them!)
  • 3/4 cup raw cashews
  • 1/2 cup raw almonds
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (Trader Joe’s sells a vegan version)

Directions:

In a large bowl, combine pitted dates, nuts, and vanilla extract. Transfer to a food processor and process/pulse for a minute or two. The mixture should be easily moldable with your hands. If the mixture is too sticky, add a few more nuts by the tablespoon, and continue to use the food processor. If the mixture has too many nuts and won’t mold together with your hands, try adding a few more pitted dates. Transfer back into the large bowl and add chocolate chips. Mold into ball shapes with your hands and refrigerate. Enjoy!

Dark Chocolate Cherry Variation

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups pitted medjool dates
  • 3/4 cup raw cashews
  • 1/2 cup raw almonds
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries
  • 1 heaping tablespoon of cocoa powder

Directions:

Combine pitted dates, nuts, dried cherries, and cocoa powder together and transfer to a food processor. Process until blended for about a minute of two. If the consistency is too dry and the mixture won’t mold with your hands, try adding a few more dates. If it’s too sticky, add a few more nuts by the tablespoon. Transfer to a bowl and then using your hands, mold the mixture into ball shapes and refrigerate. Enjoy!

-Jess