Side Effects of Calorie Restriction

Since stripping this blog completely away and starting fresh, I have realized what I actually want to write about. Before, I was trying to keep it PC, gentile, cutesy, with tips and inspiration and all that good stuff (not that I can’t still have those things!).

But, because I am trying to be a bit more myself in general, that didn’t suit me. Rather, it wasn’t sustainable, because I had to put on a special face with a special voice every time I sat down to write. Well eff that.

I can’t take cute pictures of cute pink smoothies with cute pink straws and cute coconut shreds (I love the sites that do!). I can’t write resourceful articles with vegan makeup tips. I can’t write chic articles about chic vegan fashion because I don’t have any sense of style or personal fashion sense. If I did, it would be vegan fashion, but I cross my fingers for when I can dress in the same outfit every day like the old cartoon from the 90s, Doug. I want a cloest full of one type of shirt, pants, and shoes. Done.


So, in keeping with what I actually want to write about, today is another rant. And it’s about something very near and dear to my heart: calorie restriction.

Today my rant is about the young gals on Instagram who do the calorie restriction thing. I started following (out of curiosity) one young woman, 16 years old, and she is proudly featuring her new calorie restriction diet. Her meals are usually one or two hardboiled eggs with a sliced tomato. Or maybe some whole wheat toast with sliced avocado (oh, that sounds really good right now). Some days she will have a banana and a cup of yogurt. All of that in itself is not a problem (except for the animal products).

I get riled, however, when she keeps up her tiny meals for three or four days, then confesses to having committed an epic, 5000+ calorie binge the night before.

Since seeing this pattern a couple times on her account and others’, I have realized that binge-eating is just a side-effect of calorie restriction. You can restrict with all sorts of holy intentions: weight loss, improved health, fitness, whatever. But eventually, your body will demand nutrients and calories, and you will submit. And you will binge.

Since leaving my first comment of her account, which had to do with eating as much whole plant foods as you want, I have ceased commenting. Now I just watch with intrigue and sadness.

5000+ calories in one sitting. It’s not 5000+ calories of fruits and veggies. It’s junk food. High fat foods. Animal products.


I wonder if she can see that simply eating 2000 calories per day of whole plant foods would be better than restricting and then submitting to epic binges. What’s equally as frustrating is she makes the comments about how “vegan didn’t work for me,” and “protein is so important.” As if a vegan diet won’t work for one individual, or as if vegans simply are incapable of accesssing sufficient protein.

What seems to be the case with young girls and calorie restricting has everything to do with punishment. If one has low self-esteem, self-hatred, or self-harming tendencies, then it would make perfect sense that to be happy, one must feel punished. Punished for eating enough, punished for eating too much, punished for breaking your calorie allowance. She uses a whole range of sad, exapserated, tearful, and heartbroken emoji faces to emphasize how mortified she is to have tipped over her 1200 calories for the day. Or was it 1000 calories for the day?

Whatever self-imposed calorie restrictions she is placing upon herself, she is doing it out of self-loathing. What is the meme that’s going around these days? “Love yourself enough to eat healthfully” or something like that. She may be eating heathful foods (if she subtracted the animals and their secretions), but as long as she is calorie restricting, she will not be eating healthfully.

I want to help people like this young Instagrammer. I want to look at her and say, “1200 calories is the recommended daily caloric intake for a toddler. You are sixteen years old now, and you participate in after school sports, and you have five hours of homework per night. Does that sound like a toddler’s life?”

Per vegan leaders and personal experience, calorie restriction in your younger days is something that can come back to haunt you in later years. I am 29 right now and currently “paying” for my accidental restrictive years when I was running around maniacally over-achieving in high school, college, and grad school. I didn’t restrict on purpose; I just would run around not eating enough, fueled by the fear of disappointing others and myself.

And so I gained about 10 pounds since starting 80-10-10 and the high carb vegan lifestyle. I don’t care. I just find it interesting because I know eventually I will lose the weight without doing anything different than I am now.

I see calorie restriction being the norm now for weight loss programs. One of my dearest family friends has struggled with her weight her entire life, as well as a debilitating, degenerative, chronic disesase. Her weight only makes the disease worse, and the worsening of the disease causes her to gain weight.

Currently under the supervision of a nutritionist, she is advised to keep her calories to 1200 per day.

1200. Calories. Per. Day. Advised.


Under the supervision of a professional nutritionist, a grown woman who weighs over 300 pounds is advised to eat like a toddler.

Something about this sounds terribly wrong, not to mention slightly illegal.

When we don’t eat enough calories, our bodies cling to every calorie we give it. If we restrict our calories and eat primarily high fat animal products (because when we restrict, we crave caloric and fat density), our bodies store nearly every ounce of fat in case the restrictive circumstances last a long time.

In other words, as long as adults eat like toddlers, our bodies are going to treat us as if we don’t know how to feed ourselves (which we clearly don’t) and hang onto all the calories we give it to protect us from the dire circumstances.

Your body is not a calculator. You cannot control your evolutionary nature as if it’s simply buttons on a machine. Your body, and calories, do not work that way.

Feed yourself 2000-3000 calories a day of whole, plant foods. Keep your fat intake to a minimum. That means, like, one avocado per week. The more you calorie restrict, the more your body will force you to binge later. The more you binge, the longer it will take for you to overcome this process.

Look on the bright side. If you’re binge eating, you know you have the capacity to eat a sh*t ton of food. Why not learn to binge on the right kinds of food? Humans are designed to eat voluminous amounts of high fiber foods, such as fruit, vegetables, and starches. You will shock yourself at the volume of food you are able to eat after some initial practice.

Use your binge eating to your advantage. Binge on bananas. Binge on oranges. Binge on a pile of romaine with dates. Binge on anything that grows from the ground, a tree, or bush. Just don’t slather it in animal secretions. Check out Nadia on Fat2FitonFruit and how she encourages you to use your binge eating ability to heal yourself.


2 thoughts on “Side Effects of Calorie Restriction

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