“Pregorexia”

Reading about pregorexia (a term often used to describe preoccupation with weight control through extreme dieting and exercising while pregnant) in a recent New York Times blog post Cathy shared with me, “During Pregnancy, Starving for Two” just made me want to cry.

Part of the reason I’m on this journey to be past my disordered eating behaviors is so I can someday 1) get pregnant and 2) carry and deliver a healthy baby and 3) be a good role model of a mom to my children.

I know every day I don’t engage in DE behaviors makes me one step closer to this someday being a real possiblity: that this will be in my past. Every day I choose to be kind to my body, fuel it well, work it moderately … I’m doing my body, mind and soul a favor.

(And no, I don’t really consider my midnight eating disordered behavior; it’s not the same as chewing/spitting in my eyes).

A few weeks into blogging last June, I voiced my concern about future pregnancy, and got some beautiful advice from you, my readers.

But for all my concerns — which are not unfounded (what woman welcomes the notion of gaining 25-35 lbs?!) — the very LAST thing I think I’d consider during pregnancy would be restricting or over-exercising! I just can’t imagine it, at all. I know sometimes my actions might lead my readers or friends or loved ones to think otherwise, but that’s why I’m working so hard on this now.

I mean, there’d be life in my belly; how could I treat it with such disrespect? But that is rational Melissa speaking now, and the women experiencing “pregorexia” probably never expected to go down that path.

That said, I know I will need to be extra vigilant not to even entertain the thoughts of weight-control when the time comes. In fact, I found this helpful article from the Department of Health and Human Services that has some good advice for when the time comes.

It’s a very fine line to walk, but reading something like that column about “pregorexia” was a real wake-up call. It scared the hell out of me, and makes me that much more sure that taking control of my actions and behaviors now will pay dividends later.

And since thoughts lead to actions … thinking about this now will hopefully prevent an unhealthy view of pregnancy when the time comes someday.

How about you? Have you heard of “pregorexia”? Do you fear being susceptible because of past DE/ED behaviors??

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15 thoughts on ““Pregorexia”

  1. It’s interesting that you post about this now… because after a discussion about marriage with some friends yesterday I ended up spending a good deal of time thinking about my future husband and family today. In that thinking, I’ve always wanted kids, but I am definitely afraid of the weight gain during pregnancy. I’m not even dating anyone at the moment… so all of this is so far away, but still, I worry I’ll never get to that point of healthy thinking/living.

  2. That article is sad 😦
    I just read a new article with the latest guidelines for healthy weight gain during pregnancy. Only 17 lbs is insane…that’s only slightly more than they recommend for someone obese.
    I have heard of pregorexia only because there was a lot of speculation when Nicole Kidman was pregnant.
    I don’t think I am in danger of this during pregnancy, in fact, I am still close enough to my overeating days that I worry I would pack it on quickly and unnecessarily.

  3. Hi LessThanThree. I think this is a pretty common concern most women have, even without DE issues — the notion of being out of control of your own body. In a way, I look forward to this time (whenever it comes) as a blessing because I think it’ll force me to become one with myself in every way, for the greater good — life from life! I hope you get there, too! πŸ™‚

    Lara, I remember Nicole Kidman didn’t even look pregnant and she had a flat tummy upon leaving the hospital a week later, it was insane!! So so so sad. Hopefully we’ll both be in excelllent places when the time comes.

  4. This is something I’m very scared of…I feel so vain for even thinking that way, and I know I would never undereat and put my baby in danger, but I’m afraid more of my emotions surrounding weight gain.

    I’ve had friends who’ve had EDs in the past and gained 50-60 pounds during pregnancy, because they finally feel like “they can.” This scares me, too, because that is far beyond the weight gain recommendation.

    For me, it’s far in the future to think about this…but like you, it’s one of my goals to be “on track” with my eating by that time. Especially if I have daughters – they will certainly need a positive, healthy role model. πŸ™‚

  5. I read that article and it made me very sad. I don’t have kids nor plan to have them but have always wondered how I would react to the gain. I have seen women with past histories of ED react very differently raqnging from relapse to going all out and eating way too much because “they can”.
    actually the new guidelines don’t say 17 lbs for a normal weight person. Here the are:
    Underweight: Gain 28-40 pounds
    Normal weight: Gain 25-35 pounds
    Overweight: Gain 15-25 pounds
    Obese: Gain 11-20 pounds

  6. Holly, I fear that too — I have never been anorexic or super-restrictive or bulimic, but I do fear letting go too much; hoping for moderation!! I think just knowing we’re more susceptible to it helps…I hope so, at least!!!

    Thanks for the figures, Lara!

  7. (I love that there’s two Laras–I always have to check to make sure I’m responding to both of you and not missing one πŸ˜‰

  8. I have had disordered eating for a few years – but I have had two successful pregnancies. Interestingly enough – I had no eating issues during those times. I didn’t really think twice about it. I gained 38 with the 1st baby and 32 with the 2nd. It was like freedom – I didn’t obsess about food or exercise – I kind of gave myself permission to let go and just enjoy the life inside of me. I wish I could go back to that place and allow myself to be a little bigger – still healthy but a little bigger and not so obsessive about it all. So – yes there is hope – if you really concentrate on the life inside of you I don’t think you will have any issues. For me the problems always started after the birth – right after the birth. I instantly turned back to all of my old behaviors and wanted to just shed all the pounds. My c/s and everything else started after the birth of my 2nd son, I was so determined to be smaller than I was before, and I reasoned I wasn’t hurting my baby, I was only hurting myself. I see it differently now, though…..bad habits hurt everyone around you. Good luck – I hope you reach your goals! Motherhood has been the biggest blessing (and challenge!) of my life. It is SOOOO worth it. I’d just say exercise caution over your behaviors during your pregnancy AND after – that can be just as bad.

  9. I “let go too much” and gained 70 lbs. during my first pregnancy. Lost it all and more in 6 months. Gained about 20 with my second. Lost it all in 3 months. Definitely had more fun during my first preg, and less fun afterwards.

    I saw a pregnant lady buying a HUGE bag of Splenda today and wanted to cry and/or say something. I didn’t.

  10. I haven’t read all the responses but I know you know my issues with the numbers and gaining even 2 pounds FREAKS.ME.OUT, however, pregnancy was just, well, different. I reminded myself constantly that it wasn’t about me and that was probably key.

    And, no worries, I’ll watch you like a hawk to make sure you’re protecting baby H. πŸ˜‰

  11. Thanks for your insight, GonnaSwallowIt. I know I’ll need to be extra vigilant, for sure. Oh Sarah, that would make me sad, too… I know I’m going to need to ban Diet Coke entirely when I am pregnant and it’s going to be tough! It’s the only artificial sugar I eat … ugh!

    LOL Staci, I know I can count on you πŸ™‚

  12. I’m a healthy eating/fitness addict and am 31 weeks pregnant with my first. I’ve gained about 27 lbs. so far and am expecting that I’ll gain around 35ish by the end – hopefully not more than that. πŸ™‚ I will tell you that pregnancy has been so liberating! Yes, it’s been hard watching the scale go up (I was a size 2/4 before I got preggers), but it’s SO fun watching my belly grow big and feeling the baby kick after I eat a meal. The weight gain actually hasn’t bothered me as much as I thought it would. And, I’ll admit, it’s been pretty fun to relax my eating and exercise habits without feeling guilty.

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