Sunday, January 1, 2012

Food, Fat, and Pregnancy

I recently listened to a podcast where they discussed the growing issue of pregnant women who suffer eating disorders during their pregnancy. Almost 20% of pregnant women will suffer from some form of anorexia or bulimia while pregnant. Most experts feel that this growing phenomenon is a result of the "Hollywood Pregnancy", where a movie star gives birth and than discusses how they only gained five pounds for their entire pregnancy. I don't doubt that this is a factor, but as a pregnant woman I have had all sorts of people come out to warn me about gaining weight and getting fat. I willingly acknowledge that 99.9% of those who have spoken to me about weight are doing it from a place of love and desire to help me be healthy. However, what I often hear in my head it "don't eat to much fatty".

Based on discussions with other pregnant women, and my obgyn, I know I am not the only one who stresses about weight and food and weight gain. I recently had a pregnant friend tell me they are freaking out about gaining too much weight and yet are so exhausted they can't seem to workout. This woman is clearly not alone, everyone feels that way.

My personal struggle revolves around the fact that I worked to lose weight in 2011 and it was this weight loss that led to me being pregnant. I have huge fears about gaining back all the weight and more. My first trimester it was impossible to find the energy to workout. All I wanted to do was sleep and the rest of the time I was nauseous. Now I have more energy and have done some workouts, but am still struggling with taking rests and not going full bore.

It feels completely insane to worry about getting fat while pregnant.  My husband constantly points out the insanity of this entire conversation. However, somewhere in this growing issue is the fine line between a healthy awareness of what you are putting in your body, and an unhealthy obsession with calories. I do think this is the time to eat the most healthy unprocessed foods that I can. For the first time in my life, I am aware of my Omega 3 and Iron consumption. I am leaving soy milk and returning to hormone free cow's milk (hardest change of all). I want to eat as healthy as possible, because I want my child to be as healthy as possible.

Healthy is the mantra I keep chanting to myself. I feel like if I eat healthy and stay comfortably active than I won't have to worry about weight. The scale still looms out there. I don't suffer from an eating disorder, but I understand how other pregnant women could tip toe toward that line. Most pregnancy sites or books discuss weight gain right of the bat. A lot of them do it with a sly "don't be a fatty".

Wouldn't it be nice if we celebrated all women, pregnant or not, by their level of health and not by the size of their jeans? I would love it if I went 24 hours without hearing a friend, colleague, or student discuss how fat they are, but instead spoke about how great they feel. Healthy choices didn't make me a size 0. What they did do was help me manage my anxiety, have more energy, and feel better about myself. I want to spend the next 4 and a half months feeling healthy and happy and not worrying about the number on the scale.

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