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To discourage dd from being vegan?

(27 Posts)
Motherofhowmany Tue 03-Jan-17 23:07:38

Name changed for this.

This isn't another 'my kid wants to be vegan/vegetarian how do I stop them' threads. I absolutely believe that under normal circumstances a teenager is perfectly capable of making their or dietary choices when suitable.

However my dd15 was discharged from an eating disorder clinic four months ago after suffering from bulimia/anorexia. She has now stated she wants to be vegan. I'm all for encouraging more sustainable lifestyles, however I am worried that such a restrictive diet is not healthy mentally for someone with previous food struggles. At the same time I want her to feel in control of her diet.

Please help.

chitofftheshovel Tue 03-Jan-17 23:14:46

Very difficult one for you.

Ordinarily I would say it is your offsprings choice but veganism can be seen as a weight loss/weight control choice, esp for people with a history of ED.

That said if she feels she needs to control her eating it could be better to do it through veganism rather than starvation/purging.

There are lots of high level athletes who are vegans, who obviously need high calorie and protein intake, perhaps research them, buy books etc and steer her towards those sort of recipes?

Ummmmgogo Tue 03-Jan-17 23:16:23

Would it be possible to speak to the clinic she was at to ask their opinion? My gut says no way to veganism for her but I don't know much about eating disorders xx

MrsDustyBusty Tue 03-Jan-17 23:17:16

Would she consider maybe being out of treatment for two years before doing this? Has she a counsellor at the moment?

Champagneformyrealfriends Tue 03-Jan-17 23:18:39

Ring her ED counsellor. My brother went from an ED to obsessive exercising and "clean eating". He'd just gone from one form of disordered eating to another.

VanillaSugar Tue 03-Jan-17 23:23:28

Support her, but keep an eye on her. As other PP have said, you actually want her to eat something.

My DD started uni last September and has chosen a near vegan diet. She's gone down a dress size to a 6/8.

Tofu, coconut water, pulses, green veg. Cook with coconut oil, lots of wholegrains - if she's had an eating disorder then don't limit the crap, i.e. crisps.

Twolittlejobbys Tue 03-Jan-17 23:23:31

Could she be persuaded to try going veggie first? I've heard this before with eating disorders and it's another way of controlling what you eat. At least with veggie you can still have high calorie milk, cheeses and yoghurt etc.

Motherofhowmany Tue 03-Jan-17 23:23:57

champagne that's exactly what I'm worried about. I've tried questioning her about her motivations behind going Vegan and she said it was purely ethical, however i'm worried it has more to do with 'clean eating'.

My gut tells me that it would be a very bad idea, however I'm worried if I come down too hard and 'ban' her from doing it she will spiral and go back to starving herself.

preciouspig Tue 03-Jan-17 23:28:09

I wouldnt discourage her but I would keep an eye on what shes eating.

I went vegan for purely ethical reasons, ended up putting weight on from non stop carbin!

Do some research into it and try to cook good hearty meals but veganise them ie. shephards pie, spag bol, chilli and curry but made with lentils instead

VanillaSugar Tue 03-Jan-17 23:29:03

Could you go with it for a week and make sure she has lots of nuts, seeds and quinoa? The other worry is portion control - if she feels she's in control of her good then she might be persuaded to eat more of it.

VanillaSugar Tue 03-Jan-17 23:29:44

Food, not good!

KeplerYellow Tue 03-Jan-17 23:29:59

I was anorexic in my teens and early twenties and vegan for most of this time. Of course you can be vegan and perfectly healthy, but for me it was just a way to legitimise my restrictive eating patterns. I think you are right to try and discourage your daughter from following a vegan diet as it is likely to reinforce obsessive eating habits.

KC225 Tue 03-Jan-17 23:37:00

There was an interesting piece in the mail's YOU magazine about the amount of young girls wanting to be vegan. It shouldn't be too hard to find. I do remember an expert warned of them bulking up on rice crackers rather taking the extra time to plan nutritious meal.

I think given your daughter's recent food issues you are right to be concerned. Can you not talk to her outpatients/dietician?

allowlsthinkalot Wed 04-Jan-17 09:49:44

I completely agree with you that it isn't a good idea for your dd. I know that ED units usually accommodate a vegetarian diet but not vegan.

However, I don't know how you can stop her.

Does she still have access to a dietician experienced with ED's (not just any dietician)? Or could you oay for her to see one? If so would they work with her to devise a suitable meal plan including three meals and three snacks with adequate fat and carb intake?

Can you chat with her and make an advance agreement about what she will do if restricting her diet like this leads to an increase in obsession around food and triggers ED thoughts / behaviours?

Does she monitor her weight / have it monitored? Will she agree to maintain her weight on a vegan diet, weighing once a week no more no less and allowing a +/- 3lbs range?

londonrach Wed 04-Jan-17 09:51:35

If history of ed no way let her go vegan. Talk to ed clinic.

allowlsthinkalot Wed 04-Jan-17 09:53:12

I think it's important that it is monitored and ideally by someone other than her mum. You don't want it to be a battle of wills between you.

But it is perhaps better to be on board and get her to tell you how she is going to ensure her diet is sufficient and she stays healthy than to ban it and have her refuse food that isn't vegan with no healthy alternative available.

BathshebaDarkstone Wed 04-Jan-17 09:57:19

This may seem off topic, but DS1 has cystic fibrosis and can't digest fat. The nutritional information we got from hospital when he was diagnosed said that veganism would be dangerous as it's difficult to eat enough fat. For that reason I'd say try and dissuade her.

dollydaydream114 Wed 04-Jan-17 10:10:52

I think it's quite common for people with eating disorders to 'replace' them with a diet that is socially acceptable but restrictive, and I think veganism would fall into this category. Absolutely fine for someone for someone who doesn't have any psychological issues with food, but might not be healthy for someone with a history of anorexia/bulimia. It will certainly give her an excuse to decline food in situations where other people are eating, particularly outside the home, because 'I'd love to have something but none of this food is vegan' is something most people won't question (whereas other excuses like 'I'm just not hungry' or 'I'm not feeling well' or 'I already ate something earlier' tend to be questioned).

It's difficult, because equally you don't want to feel like you're forcing a teenager into eating animal products if that's something they genuinely find abhorrent for ethical reasons, but at the same time it's certainly something you'd want to keep an eye on.

Perhaps you need to have a talk with her about the kinds of things you would expect her to eat if she was vegan - eg lots of plant oils/fats, nuts, seeds, grains, carbs etc - so she understands that she is essentially not going to be allowed to restrict her diet purely to non-starchy, low-calorie vegetables and that 'vegan' absolutely does not equal 'clean eating' or 'weight loss'.

SomewhatIdiosyncratic Wed 04-Jan-17 10:44:40

My friend at school was anorexic and claimed to be vegetarian. It is a socially simple way to restrict food groups.

Yes, done sensibly with good planning and effort, it can be a healthy lifestyle, but when faced with disordered eating and calorie restriction, there's a lot of valuable nutrients and fats in eggs and dairy that an anorexic person may struggle to subsitute adequately.

Could supporting vegetarianism be a compromise between you?

Does she have any formal support?

TheViceOfReason Wed 04-Jan-17 13:04:19

Given that you can't stop her, i'd go with supporting her choice and finding out how to cook wholesome vegan meals.

If you are a halfway decent cook it's really not difficult - there are loads of blogs etc of "normal" mums, families etc who are vegan and cook normal food!

Vegan lasagna - "meat" portion made with tinned green lentils, tinned toms, herbs, onion, garlic and chopped veg served with potato wedges, salad and garlic bread is a very filling meal - and can be enjoyed by all. Tesco do loads of "free from" soy substitutes - the smoked vegan "cheese" is excellent to top pastas / lasagna etc with and can be grated or sliced. Tesco value garlic baguette is vegan.

Curry is a good one too - potato, sweet potato and broccoli in a nice coconut milk based sauce with rice and naan/poppadoms.

Chinese with loads of veg and some Cauldron marinated tofu in a spicy sauce with rice and spring rolls.

Linda McCartney sausage rolls are very tasty too with mash and beans.

It's a real fallacy that vegan diets = very restricted calories and super healthy!

Any way of eating - be that vegan, vegetarian, pescetarian or omnivore can be restrictive or healthy or fattening or balanced - it's purely down to what that person wants to get out of it and how much effort they will put in to it.

Buster5187 Wed 04-Jan-17 13:12:30

Agree with many of the others, I'm newly vegan (9 months), it was for health / ethical reasons which it may be for her, but it's tricky with the previous ED. I would encourage her firstly to look up recipes / decide on what she would like to cook first. It can be really difficult to be vegan if you don't prepare what you're going to eat. Then go shopping with her. What I found is I have the 'go to healthy' batch sort of meals, curries, pasta sauces, sandwhich fillings (chickpeas/avodacdo etc), to prepare lots of those kind of meals, then around that eat nuts, salads, rice, potatoes etc. As long as she is prepared/willing to cook. As with anything however it is easy to be an unhealthy vegan too.

YelloDraw Wed 04-Jan-17 13:22:34

Absolutely fucking not without the full support and blessing of her ED team.

This is all about her desire to control and redistrict eating. IT is foolish to even pretends that it is about ethics.

I have a few ex-ED friends/relations and they are ALL 'clean eating' / 'gluten inherent' / 'lactose intolerant' / 'vegan' - yeah fucking right... just a socially acceptable way to restrict/control food.

YelloDraw Wed 04-Jan-17 13:24:53

dollydaydream114 said what I meant but in a more eloquent way

ImperfectPirouette Wed 04-Jan-17 14:42:13

It's difficult. I'm strictly vegetarian for ethical reasons & can't have dairy due to an anaphylactic allergy. I sometimes have egg & honey, wear some wool, and sadly cannot afford to import special vegan ballet shoes from Russia. I've also had anorexia - or what used to be EDNOS (anorexia), depending on my weight, which is pretty much dependent on medications - since I was ten & a half. It went untreated when I was a child & teenager partly due to quite staggering ineptitude on the part of CAMHS & partly due to family circs so the only opposition to my becoming vegetarian was over a lack of protein because I couldn't have dairy. I eventually "solved" it by simply refusing to eat meat/fish/animal by-products.

However, becoming vegetarian had nothing to do with my anorexia. It was entirely about animal welfare - I started hunting out cruelty-free toiletries at the same time & continue to only use those. A good way to try to assess if your DD is concerned about animal welfare or if it's her ED talking is to see what she's planning to do on the non-dietary side of things.

I think you should support her to become vegan - but not any kind of faddy-weirdy clean-eating/juice-fasting/other-low-calorie-nonsenseing "vegan". Does she have a mealplan at the moment? I'd suggest you have a look at that & have a look round online for how you could veganise it (as it were) - including how to make up calories if necessary. Be clear that vegan isn't a way to get out of crisps/cake/chocolate/sweets & - as a PP suggested - that she needs to continue to maintain her weight.

15 is exactly the sort of age where lots of people think about becoming vegetarian or vegan. Obviously in your DD's case it's more complicated than usual. But if you set strict groundrules & give her a chance to try it you'll either be pleasantly surprised OR you'll learn that she needs more support in her recovery and can start trying to arrange it.

Whatever you end up doing OP, I hope it goes ok & that your DD's recovery progresses well.

Birdlife Wed 04-Jan-17 15:03:39

I suffered from anorexia as a teen, recovered, then in my first year of uni realised I was heading back there. I turned vegetarian as a way of having control of my diet without it being unhealthy. I was 'allowed' to not eat certain things (meat). It worked for me and I felt like I had control over what I was eating rather than the other way round. I'm still vegetarian, and sometimes, if I ever feel like i'm restricting, I cut out one more thing (like milk) to keep it under control until i'm less stressed.

However, since your DD is so newly out of the clinic, it sounds, sadly, like she could be using veganism as a weight-loss tool.

If you could try and gently persuade her to try vegetarianism first, and then see how she goes with it, that might be better. If possible, try not to make it sound like you're deciding for her - I know that's hard - but she'll feel so much more in control if she knows it's her decision.

flowers and brew to you and your DD

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