(136) Can I stay vegan and recover from Binge Eating? (with Jennifer Rollin)

You appreciate that not eating enough can trigger your binges. Does that include your vegetarianism or veganism too? This week’s letter writer has connected the desire to eat with friends and later binge eating. Have you? Listen to the latest Love Food Podcast episode with special guest Jennifer Rollin where we discuss eating disorder recovery and veganism and vegetarianism.

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This episode is brought to you by my courses: PCOS and Food Peace and Dietitians PCOS and Food Peace. You CAN make peace with food even with PCOS and I want to show you how.

This episode’s Dear Food letter:

Dear Food,

My complicated relationship with you began when I was 13. I had become obsessed with body image and thought all my problems would be solved if I could just be smaller. So I began strict dieting, and was eating less than XYZ calories a day. On this journey my brain became obsessed with food much more than body image. I became anorexic. I wanted to be able to stop restricting but I didn’t know how. I was scared and worried I would lose control.

My recovery began when i started seeing a dietitian, who gave me the book “intuitive eating”. If it weren’t for that book, I don’t know where I would be today. I began to eat more normally and gradually gained the weight back, although my mind was still very fixated on food for another year. Once I finally started caring about more things in life than food (about 3 years later) I developed binge eating disorder.

Now for a little more than two years I have been struggling to make peace with my body and have spent many nights crying wondering if I will ever be able to eat normally again. I know that binge eating happens when there is a restriction, which makes me afraid that my veganism is getting in the way of me being able to have a healthy relationship with food.

I went vegan a few months into my strict dieting phase at 13, after watching a documentary promoting it, but that was mainly for ethical reasons as well as health. Now I know that I’m not doing it for my health or anything body related, but my veganism is a very important part of my belief system, and I don’t feel like I could/want to give it up. It’s been five years since my initial eating disorder, parallel with the amount of time I’ve been Vegan. It doesn’t really feel like I’m restricting myself, since I’m so used to doing it and there are plenty of vegan alternatives that I enjoy. However every now and then I’ll be in a situation where everyone else is eating meat/cheese and part of me just wishes to indulge for that moment. I worry that when those feelings are left ignored it triggers a binge.


At a crossroads

Show Notes:

Do you have a complicated relationship with food? I want to help! Send your Dear Food letter to LoveFoodPodcast@gmail.com. 

Click here to leave me a review in iTunes and subscribe. This type of kindness helps the show continue!

The Love Food Podcast Episode 49 with Jennifer McGurk


Are you trying to reconnect to your own innate wisdom with your body and food? Do you feel obsessed with food, especially during the holiday season? Has “clean-eating” become the focal point of your life, and does the idea of eating non “clean” foods make you anxious? Listen now for some ways to combat the holiday diet stress, and to free yourself from the guilt around food.

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Key Points:

  • Food is something that connects us to our family and our culture, but diet culture makes food WAY too important and obsessive, and that preoccupation removes the connecting and pleasurable components of food.
  • Use the hashtag #foodpeace to join in my discussion about alternatives to diets throughout the next few weeks, which are bound to be full of diet talk (January is national dieting month!).
  • Finding pleasure in food contributes to your overall quality of life and health!!
  • Food provides a connection to people around us, and when we get in the way of that, EVERYTHING suffers.
  • Orthorexia: a condition in which a person relates to food in a moralized way (think “good” and “bad” foods) that becomes overwhelming and creates a negative relationship to food.
  • Jennifer McGurk joins for some more insight on food peace!
  • Our culture places so much emphasis on health, and conflates weight loss and clean eating with being healthy.
  • How do we change our relationship with food and find food peace? How do we take back our power and control in our lives without trying to exercise power and control over our food?
  • The ways in which we relate to food can be a metaphor for other things that we are struggling with in our lives!
  • Orthorexia may not be a full-blown eating disorder, but it IS a form of disordered eating… we don’t know enough about it yet to really have a full grasp of its impact on mental health.
  • First step to healing: make a list of pros and cons of eating in this “clean,” controlled way.
    • Pros: control
    • Cons: guilt, disconnection from family and friends around food because you can’t join them in certain meals, thoughts and emotions are obsessive about food and make you feel out of control, sacrificing parts of your life!
    • So do the cons outweigh the pros??
  • Recovery from orthorexia takes time! Working with an eating disorder dietitian can help, as well as proper nutrition education (we need “healthy” foods just as much as we need “unhealthy” foods!).
  • Increased moodiness and decreased sleep is a big sign of disordered eating.
  • Carbohydrates are IMPORTANT!!!
  • Taking the focus off the food and focusing more on individual positive health may be a helpful mindset shift.
  • Let’s label food not as “healthy” or “unhealthy,” but just as what it is. An apple is an apple, plain and simple. Bring food back to the present, rather than interacting with food in an anxiety-driven, future focused, “Is this food going to kill me????” kind of way.
  • “Clean eating is washing your food and making sure that it’s cooked to the right temperature. There is no such thing as dirty eating unless your food literally comes from the ground and has dirt on it.” – Jennifer
  • Orthorexia carries implications for those around us… if some of us are eating “clean,” then are the rest of us eating dirty??? NO!
  • Eating “well” doesn’t have to be black and white… we can eat our ice pops and also go to the farmers market.
  • “Our relationships are more important than our food choices.” – Julie
  • Nutritional health has a lot more to do with our mental health and our emotional health than we’ve ever realized before… let’s cross our fingers for some more research!!
  • Let’s give ourselves permission to have fun with food and our family… Just remember, how would it feel to be at peace with food?
  • “The importance of mental health as it impacts our physical health cannot be ignored.” – Julie
  • Having such rigid rules around food may actually result in negative consequences to our health.
  • Food is just not as black and white as we want it to be… apples won’t cure all ills and cheeseburgers won’t kill us!
  • You don’t need forgiveness for the food choices you make!!

Show Notes:

Do you have a complicated relationship with food? I want to help! Send your Dear Food letter to LoveFoodPodcast@gmail.com. 

Click here to leave me a review in iTunes and subscribe. This type of kindness helps the show continue!

Thank you for listening to the Love, Food series. Give me feedback via Twitter @EatingPermitRD.


This episode is sponsored by my friends at Green Mountain at Fox Run.
A special promotion for Love Food listeners:
Join Green Mountain at Fox Run for their Binge & Emotional Eating Weekend Intensive (January 20-22, 2017). Participants will explore personal barriers and how to counter them with evidence-based strategies to prevent eating in response to stress and emotions. For more information or to register, please visit https://www.fitwoman.com/therapy-services-eating-disorder/offerings/binge-eating-intensive-weekend/.

Immerse yourself in a practice of mindfulness. Join Green Mountain at Fox Run for “Mindfulness for Women Who Struggle With Food and Body – A Meditative Retreat”, designed to help you reduce stress, eat well, move joyfully, and guide the way toward ending eating and food struggles. For dates and registration information, please visit


The Women’s Center for Binge and Emotional Eating at Green Mountain at Fox Run is the only clinical program in the nation solely for women suffering with binge & emotional eating. Their insurance-eligible program is backed by over 40 years of experience and is staffed by licensed clinicians. Their program has created life-altering changes by helping women to manage emotional overeating through the practice of mindfulness. For more information, visit www.fitwoman.com/binge.