Approaching a Loved One Who Is Struggling with Pregorexia

Pregnant Woman

Contributor: Crystal Karges, MS, RDN, IBCLC, Special Projects Coordinator at Eating Disorder Hope/Addiction Hope

Pregnancy is often a period of time that can bring out many emotions for a new mother and family members. It is not uncommon for a woman to feel excitement and joy for the new life that is developing within her, while also feeling nervous, apprehensive, and scared about the prospect of becoming a parent.

For countless women who, the changes their bodies undergo in pregnancy can also be overwhelming. This may be especially true for a woman who has previously struggled with an eating disorder, is susceptible to developing an eating disorder, or who may be dealing with poor self-esteem.

Eating Disorders and Pregnancy

Weight gain and body changes are a normal part of pregnancy, however a woman struggling with an eating disorder may be less able to adapt to these changes. This may lead to a relapse in eating disorder behaviors, which can put both the mother and developing baby at risk for adverse health consequences.

“Pregorexia” is a term coined to describe the presence of an eating disorder in a woman specifically during pregnancy. For any family member or friend who has observed eating disorder patterns and behaviors in their loved one, this can be especially concerning.

The Best Approach

With pregnancy being a particularly sensitive and vulnerable time, what might be the best way to approach a loved one who is possibly dealing with Pregorexia? Open, honest, and gentle communication is also essential in sharing a message of concern, and this is an important approach to take when talking with a loved one about your concerns.

pregnant-1088240_640x426If you are worried about your loved one who may be struggling with an eating disorder during their pregnancy, be sure to talk with them in safe environment and during a time that you specifically set aside for your discussion.

Openly sharing your concerns from your point of view can make things easier to receive, such as stating, “I feel worried when I see you skipping meals”, or “I feel concerned about the amount you are exercising lately”.

Asking open ended questions can also help encourage your loved one to share more about what they may be dealing with, such as “What about this pregnancy worry you?”, or “How can I help support you during this time?” Be prepared with resources that you can share with your loved one as well, such as a local support group or counselor that may be available for assistance. Know that your caring approach can help serve as an intervention for your loved one who may be struggling with Pregorexia.

Community Discussion – Share your thoughts here!

What aspects of pregnancy might be challenging to a woman dealing with an eating disorder?

Crystal Headshot 2About the Author: Crystal is a Masters-level Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) with a specialty focus in eating disorders, maternal/child health and wellness, and intuitive eating. Combining clinical experience with a love of social media and writing, Crystal serves as the Special Projects Coordinator for Eating Disorder Hope/Addiction Hope, where her passion to help others find recovery and healing is integrated into each part of her work.

As a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor, Crystal has dedicated her career to helping others establish a healthy relationship with food and body through her work with EDH/AH and nutrition private practice.

The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of eating disorders. These are not necessarily the views of Eating Disorder Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Eating Disorder Hope understand that eating disorders result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an eating disorder, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on February 23, 2016
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