Eating Disorder Treatment Center

Canopy Cove of Tallahassee, Florida

Vegetarianism and Eating Disorder

Eating Disorder Treatment for clients who are vegetarian

Individuals who follow a vegetarian diet and are looking for Residential Eating Disorder Treatment are welcome at Canopy Cove. We offer clients the ability to follow specific diets including:

Vegetarian diets, Gluten free and lactose free diets.

According to a recent U.S. Gallup Poll, approximately five percent of Americans describe their diet as vegetarian.

Clients diagnosed with Anorexia, Bulimia, EDNOS, OSFED and other Eating Disorders who are following a vegetarian diet can receive treatment at Canopy Cove for their Eating Disorder at the Residential level, the Partial Hospitalization and the intensive outpatient level of care.


Is there a connection between an Eating Disorder and Vegetarianism?

The information on the role vegetarianism plays in the development of an Eating Disorder is certainly mixed and complex. Research shows that nearly half (45 to 54 percent) of individuals seeking treatment for Anorexia Nervosa reported practicing some form of a vegetarian diet (Bardone-Cone, et al., 2012

  • 67 percent of first-year college students stated that their reasons for being vegetarian were health-related
  • 45 percent said their reasons were ethical in nature
  • 25 percent said their primary reason for being vegetarian was related to a weight loss goal (Gilbody, Kirk, & Hill, 1999)
  • 61 percent of individuals dealing with an Eating Disorder who have had a vegetarian diet said they believe there was a relationship between their ED and choosing to be a vegetarian.

However, the research also showed that individuals with an Eating Disorder and following a vegetarian diet reported Eating Disorder symptoms before choosing to be vegetarian. There was an average of one year between the onset of Eating Disorder symptoms and beginning to follow a vegetarian diet. The research suggest that while individuals who are dealing with an Eating Disorder are more likely to be vegetarian, it seems that vegetarianism is not usually a specific precedent to an ED. Rather, it seems that people who are predisposed to risk for developing an Eating Disorder are more likely to engage in vegetarian eating patterns (Bardone-Cone, et al., 2012).


Support for Eating Disorder Clients who follow a Vegetarian Diet

Our treatment team incorporates an open minded approach to each client’s situation and strongly acknowledges that for many individuals, the preference to follow a vegetarian diet is motivated by factors that are not related to issues surrounding body image or weight. We respect each client as an individual and do not make general assumptions.

As a recent study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found, women suffering from eating disorders are four times more likely to be vegetarian than women without eating disorders. It is for this reason that we explore with our vegetarian clients the motivation behind their decision to make a dietary change that often results in restrictive eating patterns and a heightened focus on food.  If food obsessions and fears led to the change in food behavior, we will challenge our clients throughout treatment to gradually allow for the incorporation of previously restricted foods in order to experience more freedom with eating.

Our highly trained staff will provide the client with a detailed assessment during treatment to help clarify if the food preferences or restrictions are linked to the Eating Disorder. If there is a correlation, the team will bring this to the client’s awareness and will begin working with the client to help stabilize the thought process and the relationship with food.

If you’re struggling with an Eating Disorder and follow a vegetarian diet, that IS or is NOT connected to your Eating Disorder, you are able to receive treatment at Canopy Cove from an experienced and respectful team.