How Pregnancy is Affecting My Eating and Recovery

Those of you who have seen this “my story” video below know that I’m pregnant. Those of you who didn’t know…Hey, I’m pregnant! Six and a half months as of yesterday.

 

I always wondered how pregnancy would feel for me, as someone with a history of binge eating and body image issues. Would I have food cravings? Would those cravings remind me of binge feelings? What would it feel like to watch the needle on the scale inch up month after month as my belly expands and my body layers (good-for-the-baby) fat onto my hips and thighs? Would it be possible that my disordered eating could somehow come back?

Some of those things have happened and some haven’t. Cravings? Yes. For everything from milk to chocolate to soup, tomatoes, pickles, and popsicles. Instead of feeling like the compulsions of a binge, these cravings feel very natural—just like I really, really, really know what I want to eat when I get hungry. (Which at this point is just about every three hours on the dot.)

I’ve even woken up physically hungry in the middle of the night and needed to have a snack. It was something that felt amazingly natural, despite night eating having been a real problem for me during my bingeing days. It was just a physical need this time around—and once I met it, with a piece of peanut butter toast or a bowl of cereal or some yogurt, it was over and I quickly went back to sleep. It felt good, like I was taking care of myself and my baby. And that felt amazing.

But at about five months, I started noticing body changes that…bothered me. The belly I liked. That part was fun. What felt scary was when I could see changes in my a legs, a body part I never really had issues with. My thighs were growing thicker and I could see cellulite under the skin in places I’d never had dimples before. I felt like I didn’t have any control over it and it was hard to admit, but it freaked me out. All this time during my recovery I’ve come to trust my body and depend on the fact that when I treat it well, it remains strong and my weight fluctuates a bit but not a lot. Now, here I am and my body is anything but stable or predictable.

I stayed calm about it, but didn’t really let myself feel much of the fear until my monthly appointment with my therapist rolled around. I was so happy to walk into her office that night to finally admit how I’d been feeling—to someone else, and fully to myself, too. And that expression—and the few tears that fell—seemed to be enough to make the body fears calm down. Because my weight and my body shape are no longer of outsized importance to me, and my self esteem no longer depends on weight or body shape, I was able to let it go. Truly let it go. (At least for now. Who knows, it may crop up again when I’m 8 months and can’t see my feet anymore!)

Tomorrow, I’ll tell you about the appointment with my doc when she told me she was concerned about the rate of my pregnancy weight gain. That was fun! :) But for now, those of you who’ve had kids, how did you deal with body image disturbance while you were pregnant? Did you have any? And for those who’ve never had kids, are you worried about how you might deal when you are pregnant? xo…Sunny

8 Responses to How Pregnancy is Affecting My Eating and Recovery

  1. Hi Sunny Sea,
    A good article. Many of my female clients cannot even contemplate getting pregnant for fear of what will happen to their bodies. Some can’t even have a regular physical relationship with their partner due to their fear of being judged, so where would that leave them in terms of actually getting pregnant?
    Learning to put the voice of your eating disorder to one side and allowing your own body’s voice to come through, as you so clearly demonstrate in your post, is key. Separating ‘self’ from ‘eating disorder’ and fighting the eating disorder’s voice every day, every hour if necessary, until it recedes to a dull rumble or barely audible whisper, allowing you to hear yourself clearly. When you can hear yourself, you can respond appropriately to your body, and then your baby’s, needs.
    The very best of luck with the rest of your pregnancy and the birth of your child. I wish you only happiness and the joy that motherhood can bring.
    Best,
    Emma Murphy
    @EDRBlog

  2. Sara says:

    Thank you so much for this post – and looking forward to tomorrow’s. I am a recovering bulimic with about 8 solid months of recovery behind me. I am also 10 weeks pregnant with my first child. I have been battling nonstop nausea for the last month, and the only foods that have been palatable are Chinese, pizza and burgers/fries. (Go figure.) Last week all of my pants stopped fitting. Major body image issues ensued. Thanks for sharing your experience.

    • Sunny says:

      Hi Sara,
      First, congrats! Second: I feel you on the nausea. I’ll write about it tomorrow, but the only foods I could eat were the simplest carbs around: bagels, macaroni, French fries, white bread (not even wheat–it was so strange). It will be good to share with you and the rest! xo…Sunny

  3. hk says:

    awesome topic! this is something thats been on my mind’s backburner but never had to confront (yet). i LOVE kids & i’d love to have one, but as someone recovering from anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating, i’m also scared that the cravings will come back full force, ill gain weight, feel terrible about myself & let that spiral into some form of an ED. i know having a kid will be worth all of it… yet i still dont know how ill manage thru pregnancy. its inspiring to read how youre handling it though, thanks for the post!

    • Sunny says:

      Knowing I wanted kids was a big part of what motivated me to take the steps necessary to fully recover, hk. It was a bit before my 30th birthday when I realized that if I didn’t kick this food/body stuff for good, I wasn’t going to be able to do these other things I wanted in life. The last step, the final sort of kick in the pants I needed to get over the recovery hurdle (after plenty of therapy and lots of self help books) for me was a support group! xo…Sunny

  4. cheri says:

    thank you for sharing this…i too have battled anorexia…and this is my second pregnancy..first time i ate freely and didnt exercise…was disgusted by my weight gain…but lost it all..this time i have been watchful with my diet and even exercise..hardest part- i am gaining almost at the same rate…so my body must need the extra weight right???i battle my history every day watching my face plump and thighs grow..thank u for sharing a healthy perspective

  5. Heather says:

    Hi Sunny,

    Congratulations on your pregnancy!

    I have always said that I’d never have children. Firstly, because my Mum had once said to me never to have them – “it ruins your life”. Secondly, because I was terrified of the weight gain, the changes in my body both during and afterwards. Would having a baby be worth the risk? My answer had been a definite no.

    Now I’m in a stable relationship for coming up to three years. I’ve got a decent job and I’ve been actively working on moving forward from disordered eating for a number of years. Children are not my priority right now; however parenthood is something I am seriously considering for the first time in my life.

    I think I am able to do this because, in large part, to my work on disordered eating and moving forward from this issue. It’s included counselling (for help with family issues etc.), group therapy, reading and lots of work on my own. For me, it’s another example of how working on these things open up our lives and our options in a way that the eating disorder would not allow.

  6. Deanna says:

    Pregnancy gave me a chance to do the right thing, not for me, but for someone I was sure I would love. I took care of myself for the babies. It wasn’t the same as recovery, I am still working on that, but it was a big step forward. I ate healthy because I had to. And, learning that I could control this THING, even a little bit, gave me strength and hope to seek recovery.

    Having my body do this amazing thing. This good thing. It was a step towards reconciliation. If it (my body) could do this thing, it must not be all bad.

    I wish you and anyone else contemplating pregnancy the best of luck. Have courage. It is good and it is worth it.

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Sunny Sea Gold

About the Author

Sunny Sea Gold is a media-savvy advocate and commentator specializing in binge eating disorder, cultural obsessions around food and weight, and raising children who have a healthy body image.