Popular vegan blogger admits eating disorder

EXTREME DIET: 23-year-old blogger Jordan Younger's passion for veganism and healthy eating turned into an unhealthy obsession.
EXTREME DIET: 23-year-old blogger Jordan Younger's passion for veganism and healthy eating turned into an unhealthy obsession.

If you've ever scrolled through Instagram in need of some inspiration - be it health, fitness or style - you'll be familiar with the tribe of young, fit and impossibly pretty women who are creating a career from snapping shots of their clean and green lives.

Well, it turns out that peddling fruit-filled diets, sun-drenched cardio sessions and motivational quotes day in, day out can come at a high price.

The popular blogger behind the Instagram handle The Blonde Vegan has opened up about how her obsessive diet and lifestyle led to a dangerous eating disorder.

Behind her happy, clean-eating persona - the one that captivated 70,000 Instagram followers with photos of vegan meals and scores of inspiring quotes and images - New Yorker Jordan Younger was miserable.

"Food was not enjoyable anymore," 5ft 4in Younger, who weighed just 47kg at her lowest point, told People magazine.

"I was spending the entire day obsessing about eating only vegetables, green juices, fruits and occasionally nuts and grains," she added. "I was following thousands of rules in my head that were making me sick."

The 23-year-old was suffering from what doctors call 'orthorexia' - a 'fixation on righteous eating' which causes people to 'become consumed with what and how much to eat, and how to deal with "slip-ups,"' according to the American National Eating Disorders Association.

While not an officially recognised disorder, orthorexia shares similarities with other eating disorders, but the obsession is with healthy eating, rather than losing weight.

Adhering to a strict plant-based vegan diet that included juice cleanses for up to 10 days at a time, Younger dropped nearly 6.5kg from her petite frame.

Younger's diet was seemingly as healthy as one could get, but she had set so many rules for herself that she gave her body little opportunity to receive the vital nutrients it needed.

She acknowledges that although social media isn't wholly to blame, she might have come to terms with her problem more easily if it weren't for her internet presence as a vegan.

"My blog made it hard for me to see that I had an eating disorder. If I wasn't so closely tied to the vegan identity I'd given myself, I would have realised it a lot sooner," she said.

As it was, it took bad skin, low energy levels and the loss of her period for the young health crusader to finally seek advice.

Eventually Younger forced herself to eat some salmon - her first piece of fish in 18 months - and when her period returned two days later, that was all the convincing she needed to change her lifestyle.

"My hormones were out of whack because I had damaged my biochemistry," says Younger, adding that she realised she had to eat fish and eggs to become healthy again.

Since publishing her blog post: Why I'm transitioning away from veganism she's lost thousands of 'hardcore vegan' followers and even received death threats for changing her dietary ways.

Despite the backlash, Younger is adamant she must take her health into her own hands.

"I think labels - as far as diet choices - are very, very dangerous. I'm a prime example of that," she says.

The 23-year-old recently renamed her blog The Blonde Veggie, before deciding on The Balanced Blonde.