Is Being Vegetarian An Escape From Anorexia?

I’m really bothered about the claims made by the “clean eating” brigade about eating fish and meat.

At the risk of annoying many people including those who are excited about clean eating; I’ve just read some interesting research about vegetarians and vegans. Many people with eating disorders become vegetarian as a means to eat less fat / calories in their diet or apparently because of concerns about animal welfare. The latter is the most common reason given by people who turn against eating meat.

Anorexics and vegetarians are typically young western women and increasingly males who have changed their diet in their teenage years and have adopted food attitudes which are more extreme, ascetic and black-and-white than those of other people and by non consumption for specific foods, they both seem to strive for a stronger sense of purification, control and identity.

Vegetarians studied had differences from normal  eaters on the E.A.T. which is a  measure of disturbed eating patterns. They were similar to anorexics on psychological disturbance such as maturity fears, ineffectiveness and interpersonal distrust. Together with high levels of “perfectionism”, difficulty “connecting” to their physical body, and distinguish hunger from emotions, vegetarians and vegans share many fundamental aspects of the psychopathology of anorexia nervosa.

Many studies suggest that vegetarianism and anorexia are not independent but intertwined, the process may either be that anorexics turn to vegetarianism as part of their symptomology which may contaminate the research findings, or that vegetarianism may be an escape route for someone who might otherwise become anorexic.

I’d say there may be some truth in that.