You may have a heavy period with annoying and painful side effects like cramps and headaches, but is it better not to have a period at all? Some raw vegan bloggers think so, and they are encouraging their readers to follow a similar extreme diet in order to lighten or eradicate their periods, which they claim are “toxic.”
“Many girls who lose their period often worry and try numerous things to get it back,” Miliany Bonet wrote on her blog, RawVeganLiving. “It’s often advised that to get your period back, you should stop exercising and eat more calories and incorporate more plant-based fats in your diet. What if I told you that everything you were taught about menstrual cycles was a complete LIE?!”
Despite controversy, Bonet continues to support her claim. “A non-menstruating body indicates the body is clean,” the 19-year-old told Broadly in May. “If a woman or young girl decided she wanted to stop menstruating or lighten up her heavy periods, then I would recommend a raw foods diet to help them with that. The industry has done a great job of brainwashing too many women into thinking that if they do not get their periods on a monthly basis, that something is wrong with their body and hormones.”
Bonet is not the only blogger to lose her period and insist that it’s healthy. Back in 2013, controversial raw vegan blogger Freelee the Banana Girl shared a video discussing her period, stating that she was happy when she lost her period, and suggesting that her now very light, three-day period was healthy. “A lot of people were like, ‘no, that’s unhealthy, you need your period, that’s terrible.’ But is it? Well, a lot of people don’t know,” Freelee said. “And all I can go on is my instincts and my feeling at the time that it felt good. It felt right, and at the time I think it needed to happen for my body to balance out.”
As Freelee says, listening to your body’s signals is a good thing. But losing your period is indeed a signal sent from your body, and an important one at that. Doctors warn against changing your diet in an attempt to alter your menstrual cycle. “Dieting to get rid of your period is unhealthy and anyone promoting this should be ashamed of themselves and take a first year biology course,” Dr. Jen Gunter told the Daily Mail. “This is a very dangerous idea and displays a complete lack of understanding of female biology and the human body in general. Periods are not bad or filled with toxins. This trend is alarming because it comes from someone who clearly has no understanding of periods or even biology in general and is just another form of body shaming.”
Gunter says that women who are very thin and don’t have a period may not be ovulating, and thus have very low estrogen levels and risk osteoporosis and other health concerns.
While Freelee acknowledges that ovulating is important and advises followers who lose their periods to check that they are still ovulating, she herself does not follow this advice. “For some reason I just instinctively felt like I was still ovulating because I felt so good,” Freelee said. “I still believe that, largely, menstruation is toxicity leaving the body,” she explains in her controversial video, which was heavily criticized by some viewers and the eating-disorder charity Beat. “So a lot of people are having these heavy, heavy periods and painful periods because they have a toxic body or have a toxic diet.”
In response to the video, Beat defined the absence of periods as amenorrhea, a sign that somebody is at a low weight. “Amenorrhea has in the past been used to diagnose anorexia nervosa. Being at a low weight and restricting intake for a significant [length] of time can have other serious side effects — low blood pressure, osteoporosis, organ failure, infertility, restricted growth among others,” Beat said.
Even vegan dietitian Vesanto Melina, a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, agrees that vegan diets centered around only fruit, as many raw vegan diets are, are “low in protein and zinc. It’s not an ideal vegan diet because the nutrient intake is very insufficient,” Melina told Hollywood Life. And while it’s certainly possible to maintain a healthy vegan diet, losing your period is not a good sign. “These women believed it was a good thing. They made a mythology out of it. But it’s not a normal thing. You need different food groups.”
Despite the risks, these blogs remain popular, and a video uploaded by Freelee in September, which claims, “If you’ve got heavy periods, that’s not normal,” has been viewed almost 250,000 times. “That is not as healthy as you can be.”
Read more in Yahoo Beauty + Style:
- Freelee the Banana Girl Gives Up Shampoo and Conditioner
- The Sneaky Detail in Trump’s Leaked Birth Control Rule That Would Restrict Access Even Further
- Going Vegan Isn’t a Magic Diet for Weight Loss