Thursday, August 25, 2011

Eating Issues in pregnancy

Pregnancy is when you are eating for two!!! Most women are excited to learn about the extra calories they will need while pregnant with their little one...but there are some women who honestly struggle with the weight gain in pregnancy.

Body Image issues are common in our society today. We all know the magazine covers in the grocery store showing so and so's new flab they tried to cover up, or the good shot of someone's ribs showing through a bathing suit or just a perfect model's body that we know we will never have.

Eating disorders are becoming more and more common in daily life, and many women who struggle with them, you may never know they struggle as they might not be 84 lbs. and look like death warmed-over. They may be your neighbor who looks like she struggles with her weight or the person whom you are jealous of her figure.
They may not struggle with a full on eating disorder, but they may have eating issues.

I have seen many eating issues that actually originate with good intentions. The fad that has been going around with cutting out different food groups, types of foods and avoiding groups of foods. Cleanses, excessive vitamins, excessive exercise among other things can be dangerous to your baby while pregnant.

While some of them may sounds good to start with, if you tend towards worrying about your body image while not pregnant, it is a good idea to get some extra support while pregnant.

Some ideas that can help you:
1)Have someone help you make a healthy diet plan- this could be a doctor, midwife, but it could also be a doula or a good friend who has a balanced diet.
2) Make sure to avoid drastic cutting out. Don't cut out main food groups while pregnant. It is normal for your stomach to be more sensitive while pregnant, but cutting out wheat, dairy and all acid based vegetables can really limit the amount of calories you can ingest. When you are not taking in enough calories while pregnant, sometimes you will still gain weight like normal, but it can leach minerals and strength from your own body.
3) Take your vitamins, but don't go over the top on them. Too many vitamins does not replace a poor diet.
4) Exercise daily. Make sure you are not under exercising or over exercising. If you are limiting your food intake, and overexercising, your baby can suffer. This is especially important after you have the baby, and are breastfeeding. Excessive exercise, with limited food means your breast milk can be the first to go.
5) Remember that when you do not eat a food for awhile, it can hurt your stomach when you try it. Plain old food can hurt your stomach if you do not eat for awhile. Remember the holocaust victims? Many of them died from eating plain food because their stomachs could not handle too much too fast. You need to eat small meals, frequently, that are full of protein, vegetables, whole grains and some fruit and dairy. Limit sugars or completely avoid! Add some good fats into your diet, but make sure you are not rejecting food simply based on not wanting to get sick.

So, how do I plan a healthy diet, when I have a fear of gaining weight? I plan meals and then I don't eat them, as I sit down and I feel ill after putting a bite in my mouth as I see the weight just piling on? I am gaining weight in spite of not eating. Why is it so important?

I know that it is easy to think when you are gaining weight that you must be doing fine. There are other things to think about though. Weight gain is not the only thing to worry about. When you are limiting your intake, you are limiting the amount of food that is going to the placental development, which feeds your baby. When you are not eating, the body has to burn some of your fat stores, which produces ketones. Ketones can be dangerous to your baby as it can be toxic when this source of nutrition passes to the baby.

I don't want anyone to know or think I have a problem? Isn't an eating disorder considered a mental illness?

Being honest with yourself and your care provider can be the safest thing for you and your baby. It is hard to admit we have a problem, but it can be the best thing all around. They can understand your struggles with not wanting to be weighed better that way, give you tips on how to provide nutrition to your baby, even when you do not want to eat.

I want to breastfeed my next baby. I struggled breastfeeding my previous baby, but I wanted to lose weight right away. I couldn't stand the jelly belly. How can I lose weight and breastfeed?

Breastfeeding requires a minimum of 1500 calories a day. That is not counting for the excess you will need to maintain your health. You need to figure out what you need to maintain a adequate milk production. Exercise in moderation can help with tightening muscles that got stretched out in pregnancy, but a healthy diet. The weight will come off with a healthy diet and moderate exercise. Breastfeeding is important to your baby's health and the sacrifice of waiting to lose that last bit of weight can be an important sacrifice for the future health of your baby. Lack of calories will cut back on your milk production and can put you at risk for PPD.

Some good resources to read:
Dealing with eating issues in pregnancy

Pregnancy complications with mothers with eating disorders