Whole food plant-based people are at risk of getting eating disorders, too

Updated: Nov 28, 2021

Anorexia comes on insidiously for most people. We all lost weight for innocent reasons, even good reasons. But those especially who are hyper-conscientious and have genes that predispose them to anorexia will develop anorexia if they lose weight.

I've had years of disordered eating myself. I think eating disorders are actually quite common, especially among the highly conscientious. But it's just taboo to talk about them. Especially in the whole food, plant-based vegan community, since already a lot of people without ED's get accused of having them just for being vegan. Anytime anyone wants to chat about ED's and overcoming them, I'm here for that. It's really a tough battle but is a lot easier once one understands the biological and evolutionary psychology basis of disordered eating. It's not "trauma" or "control issues" or all those other made-up, unfortunately popular reasons which keep us stuck in vicious cycles.

Whole food, plant-based (WFPB) eating is naturally more unprocessed than the Standard American Diet and other ways of eating. It's popular to adopt for general health, and also for weight loss. I adopted a WFPB diet after reading Dr. Michael Greger's How Not to Die book when I was 17. It is in my opinion one of the most healthy ways to eat. I had no intention of losing weight on it and actually attribute a mindful WFPB diet to my successful eating disorder recovery, which I've explained in other articles.

People on plant-based diets are not necessarily orthorexic by definition. They do tend to be more health-conscious and very committed. These are all great qualities which unfortunately make it so that they may eat a diet which excludes traditionally calorically-dense foods, they could lose too much weight by accident.

When I was anorexic I thought I was the “one exception” who couldn’t be fixed. Especially trying to recover as a whole food, plant-based (WFPB) vegan! I knew it would take more conscious planning to get in the caloric density necessary to recover.

We hyper-conscientious people, the ones diligent enough to be WFPB, try so hard to be healthy and perfect that it hurts us sometimes. I feel this all the time and it took a lot of lessons to figure out how to redirect that energy! But it is possible for everyone to do and I learned to use my personality to my advantage for recovery.

I explain that in another article on this site on how I used my conscientious traits and OCD-like mindset to work against my anorexic instincts, and instead eat more and exercise less.