‘Pregorexia’?

It is often found that an eating disorder and mental illness go hand in hand. Depression can cause disordered eating, and vice versa. Depression can derive from being bipolar, just as being bipolar can derive from having depression. Living in a constant state of chaos/highs and lows can be crippling to one’s physical health. Severe moods swings will cause a pattern, at least they have for me. It goes a little something like this:

Girl feels fine.
Girl doesn’t feel fine.
Girl loses her control.
Girl is out of control.
Girl has an episode.
Girl comes down from an episode.
Girl feels resentment to herself for said episode.
Girl hates herself.
Girl wants control.
Girl abuses her body for the abuse she feels she deserves.

This doesn’t just have to be a resort to starvation or purging. Compulsive exercise, cutting, scarring, burning, self-criticism — they are ALL forms of self harm. Finding a coping method though physical pain is one of the most common forms of ‘feeling better’ that I’ve personally felt and witnessed around others. It’s dangerous, damaging, and begging for an unhappy ending.

I don’t want this post to be potentially triggering to any of my followers, so I’m going to stop the setup of the subject for this, right there. I plan on writing more on body image and eating disorders in general another time. This particular topic is mostly pregnancy related but because it is directly tied into anorexia, I felt the need to paint a base layer first for the reader before just diving in.

I recently came across a magazine I thought was inspiring. (disclaimer: I am not sponsoring nor am I being sponsored to mention the name). It’s called FitPregnancy. I picked it up at the grocery store one evening because I used to be very active right before I found out I was pregnant – I was a runner, a weight lifter and even a dancer when the mood struck me.

Back to the magazine – I loved most of the content. It was encouraging for beginners to start a healthy lifestyle in their pregnancy, but had workouts and ideas challenging enough for previous athletes to keep from getting bored. It didn’t condone eating more like most fitness magazines, and thank goodness it didn’t, seeing as it was for the pregnant woman. It did try to persuade the consumer to seek out only nutrient rich/dense foods that were whole and healthy, which is great!

However. Let me tell you what my biggest beef was with this magazine. It features celebrities. Pregnant ones. I have not been naive to the ways of staying thin in Hollywood pre and post baby. Victoria Beckham, Nicole Richie, Kate Middleton, and the wives of singers/producers/actors who aren’t quite famous but being noted for their “hot bods” and extremely “quick come backs”.

It’s true – eating for two is not eating two plates of food. This is just tempting a binge. The actual size of my baby’s stomach is probably the length of my pinkie finger. And in the first trimester, you don’t need to change your dietary habits at all. In fact, 200-300 calories is enough to feed your child in the womb from the second trimester on. Would you shove a plate full of dinner — your sized dinner — at your newborn and expect him to eat it? Of course not! It’s not necessary. But you do need to gain weight, it’s vital for your baby’s development and health. While your baby is not a parasite in your body, you ARE the host, and should be treating your most important guest to whatever they need. This means sucking it up and indulging in healthy fats, proteins, juices, you name it. Make the calories count, this baby depends on you.

Now here’s the kicker: if 200-300 calories is hardly a change in diet… But enough to gain some healthy padding, why are we seeing a frantic push to diet and exercise while you’re trying to build a baby? The weight gained from healthy eating is going to be present, yes, but it will drop right off after the delivery. If you want to see a breakdown of pregnancy weight gain, here you go:

Baby: 7-8 pounds
Placenta: 1-2 pounds
Amniotic fluid: 2 pounds
Uterus: 2 pounds
Maternal breast tissue: 2 pounds
Maternal blood : 4 pounds
Fluids in maternal tissue: 4 pounds
Maternal fat and nutrient stores: 7 pounds

As you can see, it’s literally impossible to not gain when pregnant. The only permanent amount of weight you gain is from the fat stores you need to feed your baby. The rest is there for a reason — I mean look at that, an infant at birth averages 7 pounds!

This is what concerns me. If women stay the same weight pre pregnancy that they do at birth, this means they actually lost weight during their pregnancy, which is not okay. In fact, doing the math, this means they’re putting enough stress on their bodies and counting calories to lose some 20-25 pounds.. Which means they’re even thinner than they were when they started, technically.

Not. Okay. At. All.

This kind of behavior is spurred on by the media, pressure, and a desire to stay looking fabulous. Women are so convinced that they’ll lose the ‘sexiness’ they have to a baby without looking at the simple facts of pregnancy weight gain, they’re willing to follow these extreme regimens and put themselves and their child at risk.

My heart aches for these pregnant celebrities. I hope they realize what they’re doing. It’s saddening, and scary, and not at all helpful to the women that idolize them. It can also be triggering for people with body image issues (and obviously those celebs probably have issues too) and unrealistic to maintain… and so dangerous to the baby.

So while I loved the magazine, I had to leave it there simply because they featured these women. Too much of a temptation for someone with a previous eating disorder. Thinking strong, not skinny, has been always been a very healing phrase for me.

I hope most of this entry made sense. I understand that some of my thoughts might be hard to decipher, but I hope I got my point across. You might even consider this as a rant – it’s been one of those days!

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