Trying To Lose My Baby Weight Triggered My Eating Disorder
The postpartum period is difficult for any woman. Thereâ€™s so much pressure to get back in those pre-baby jeans and so much talk about showing off that fabulous post-baby body. Itâ€™s easy to get caught up in the chaos and fall into unhealthy habits. Most of us want to reclaim some semblance of our former selves after weâ€™ve had a baby. We want to tone up, slim down, feel like we could possibly (maybe?) attempt a bikini in public again. So, what do you do when youâ€™re not allowed to focus on any of that? What do you do when youâ€™ve had an eating disorder and post-baby rhetoric is a trigger?
Thatâ€™s where I found myself a few months ago after giving birth to my second child. Iâ€™d developed an eating disorder after my first child was born. A lifetime of body dysmorphia and an obsessive relationship with food collided with the desire to lose baby weight and ended with me hunched over a toilet purging a few Big Macs. I spent the first year and a half of my babyâ€™s life attending weekly meetings with an eating disorder specialist where I learned about self-acceptance and respect for my body, how to separate my worth from my weight, and how to eat mindfully. While I was doing this, I had to stop dieting and surrender my scale. I had to learn how to be comfortable as I was, in size 14 jeans when I was used to wearing a size 8. I had to stop obsessing about numbers and what they meant about my value as a human being. I had to leave the world of dieting and weight loss behind completely.
Healing was slow, but it happened. To my surprise, I didnâ€™t gain a ton of weight when I stopped dieting. In fact, I didnâ€™t gain any at all. My weight remained stable the entire time I was in treatment, and my ideas about health and fitness began to change. I realized my obsessive attempts to control my body were doing more harm than good and that my body was perfectly capable of regulating itself if only Iâ€™d back off. The urge to exert control over it was still there, though, and it was tested when I became unexpectedly pregnant with my second child.
Eating disorders are all about control. Â Allowing your body the space to create a healthy human being is the ultimate exercise in surrendering control. The first few months of my pregnancy I was a slave to my cravings, mostly because I couldnâ€™t keep anything down. After that, I vacillated between wanting nothing to do with food and wanting to eat everything. My weight gain was minimal, and I tried not to focus too much on the numbers or on what would happen once the baby arrived. I tried to remain in the moment and do the best I could for my body without obsessing.