Clearly becoming obsessive and restrictive with calorie intake can have a detrimental effect on both physical and mental health, but Dr Pemberton is terribly biased as he does not make distinct the difference of a healthy plant based diet as promoted by Ella Woodward (Deliciously Ella), the Hemsley Hemsley sisters or the nutrient vegan diet I promote here on Falda Eats and that of someone with mental health difficulties.
Like many young women I was obsessed with reducing my calories in a bid to maintain my stick thin figure. I was undernourished and underweight and the foods I ate were widely unhealthy and included instant noodles, reduced fat spreads, sweeties, low calories sweets, low calorie canned soups and endless cans of diet coke.
There is no doubt that although I was not suffering from an full blown eating disorder I was dealing with a very restrictive and obsessive diet. Something that Mum saw as clearly evident but which I couldn’t see. When mum explained to me that I could eat low on calories, if I wanted as long as I was high on nutrients I quickly righted my woolly thinking. Not least because my brain was being nourished and that led to “right thinking” about what I was doing to my body and subsequently led to a sensible approach to my physical and mental health.
I was lucky I caught myself in time before the side effects of disordered eating which range from significant weight gain or weight loss to infertility and life-long organ problems could take hold.
However that Dr Pemberton is accusing Ella Woodward (Deliciously Ella) of ‘peddling absolute quackery without scientific evidence’ is himself clearly out of step with science, the meat industry and environmental concerns let alone how to approach the issues facing young people in regard to their body issues caused in part by things like celebrity and social media culture and fat and skinny shaming.
Dr Pemberton’s views are concerning because he appears to ignore all the evidence that the plant based diet promoted by Ella Woodward is not only key for promoting a healthier and longer life but also has the positive side effect of environmental sustainability.
Here’s a call to action to “eating disorder specialists” STOP coupling a plant-based diet with eating disorders and ill health. I am not denying that cutting out entire food groups, namely, meat, eggs and dairy could be viewed as restrictive but the idea that a vegan diet is in anyway a promotion of a mental illness is just not accurate.
Eating a range of nutritional packed stuff that grows out of the ground, avoiding processed foods with little or no nutrient content and not being a part of the hideously cruel and environmentally damaging meat industry is NOT a sign of ill health! It is a sign of a well balanced, thoughtful and sensible approach to what humans should be putting into their bodies, how we should care for animals and concern for our wider community.
If you have read my blog posts before you will know that I view eating disorders as a serious issue and having probably being on the brink of one myself as a teen I know only too well the effect that an obsessive diet can have. However, I think the media have a duty to provide two sides to the sort of claims made by Dr Pemberton.
And let’s face it, the hugely detrimental side effects of eating a so called traditional ‘balanced’ diet which includes processed meats, cheese and eggs are far more severe. These foods are leading causes of cancers, diabetes, heart conditions, obesity and early death.
I agree that promoting a diet which is focused on reducing calorie intake in an unhealthy and unsustainable way is not responsible of bloggers or social media stars. But let’s not claim that a plant based diet falls into this category because that just avoids the real health epidemic which is facing our western society at the hands of the meat, dairy and egg industry which is an utter disgrace.