Almost anyone can offer advice (or should that be misinformation?) to people with eating disorders. Which is why Laura Dennison and Eve Simmons have set up a new website to share their experiences and speak to experts. Laura tells us more here.
Eve was the first person with an eating disorder I’d spoken to openly about mine. In fact, I think she was one of the very few people I’ve ever told about it. Although our stories are very different (I endured five years of bulimia and Eve found herself hospitalised due to anorexia), it’s almost scary how many similarities there are between us.
We’re both incredibly anxious people; we both had very loving upbringings and we both are fucking sick of reading boring, inaccurate health blogs curated by people without any sort of medical background, or enthusiasm for gluten.
You name a diet, and I’ve tried it. Alkaline, Atkins, veganism, vegetarianism, gluten-free, carb-free, dairy-free, joy-free. The list goes on. It’s become very trendy to cut things out of your diet and to replace them with so-called ‘super foods’. For people with a history of disordered eating or who are in recovery for an eating disorder, that’s an incredibly dangerous thing to promote, especially when the aim is weight loss.
Did you know that watercress has more nutritional value than kale? I bet you didn’t. But that is just one of the many revelatory nuggets we have discovered during our quest, through speaking to experts in the fields of health, food and fitness.
Hey, let’s talk about our quest! I came up with the idea to produce a website designed specifically for ‘the troubled eater’ and, after approaching Eve with a view to interview her, I discovered she was also keen to set up something similar.
Now, this doesn’t mean NOT PLANT BASED is exclusively just for those with eating disorders, but it is a place for anyone who has ever struggled with their health and eating, even in small terms such as plucking up the courage to join a gym or worrying about the food that passes their lips.
“People just don’t want to talk about the problem or acknowledge that it exists, which is a shame since so many then feel they have to deal with their shit in silence.”
We didn’t want the website to be regurgitated nonsense from a YouTube vlog I once saw, or stuff I believe to be true through years of clouded thinking, so we contacted some of the very best health professionals within the fields of health, fitness and food and asked if they’d collaborate with NOT PLANT BASED to help us produce informed, trustworthy advice for those who have been confused by the overwhelming amount of shit there is out there; especially on the internet.
You’ll also note that the logo of B-eat, the UK’s leading eating disorders charity, is on our homepage. We’re so very proud about that.
We’ve discovered a lot, a frightening lot, most particularly with regards to the lack of regulations there are in place to prevent people without a medical background from giving information to people, even those with eating disorders, in the UK. At the moment, anyone can.
Self-styled nutritional therapists – people who often take part in internet courses that last only a few hours to get their qualifications – are giving advice to some of the most vulnerable people in society. Considering eating disorders affect an enormous number of young people, that is terrifying.
Eve and I don’t claim to be cured, if there even is such a thing. We both have with daily struggles surrounding our bodies and our food, but it’s nice to know we don’t have to do it alone. We hope there’ll be people similar to us who will find comfort in the stuff we post.
We’ll be reviewing fitness classes and clothing, tasting our way through the best foods, learning how they’re made, getting quality information on health from the top dieticians in the country, and as an added extra we’ll be providing some really exciting interviews from inspiring women in our motivation column. We’ve been really surprised by the amount of influential people who want to get involved with the project, so expect some killer interviews over coming weeks.
Although we’ve had a mostly positive response so far, we’ve also noticed how much like lepers people with eating disorders are treated. People just don’t want to talk about the problem or acknowledge that it exists, which is a shame since so many, most particularly women, then feel they have to deal with their shit in silence.
As we are two women, the focus is on women (but we hope to get some male contributors on board in the future). We are aiming to open up the conversation surrounding women and their fears of food and fitness. We want women to talk about why they love their food and looking after themselves, but not in terms of how many calories they’ve burned or consumed.
So many years are wasted due to disordered eating, and we know this better than anyone. Fancy that? Women losing years to mental illness when they already have enough of a tough time getting a headstart in society, what with all the wage gaps, discrimination and slut-shaming.
The key message we want to convey is that nothing is off-limits. Any type of food and fitness can be beautiful and healthful, as long as you consume them with a happy and calm head. We are still learning to do that, and if you are too, you’re more than welcome to join us.
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