What’s one of the first things people comment on after you give birth?
After the “oohs” and “ahs” over how adorable your baby is?
“You must be so excited to get your body back!” or “Are you breastfeeding? It burns so many calories! You’ll drop the baby weight in no time!” (Side note, it only burns 500 calories a day, and generally causes an increase in appetite. So while, yes, many women do drop the weight by breastfeeding, many others do not.)
With the focus almost instantly on our postpartum bods, it’s hard for any woman to feel confident in her new mommy body. But it is doubly hard for those that have struggled with eating disorders.
Not only do we suffer from the regular things (sleep deprivation, the ungodly mess that is our lady-bits, or for us c-section mommas, the pain of a major surgery), we also suffer from our toxic thoughts. We have a voice in our head telling us to stop eating. But everyone that loves us tells us we need to eat more to nourish the baby.
We fight, claw, and battle our way through pregnancy, only to realize the fight isn’t over once we give birth. We watched our bellies grow and the numbers climb at each doctor’s appointment, and, perhaps naively, thought that once we gave birth, the focus on our bodies might shift.
But then our well-meaning friends and family decided they needed to make our bodies their business, yet again.
Recovery is hard. There are no two ways about it. Of all the things I’ve struggled with in my life, my eating disorder was one of the hardest things for me to get a handle on. I still won’t say I’m 100% recovered. I personally don’t believe it works like that. There’s no switch to turn off those thoughts. I simply learned to quiet them.
My son (as of writing this) is 8 months old. And so far, I’ve been extremely proud of myself. I haven’t given in to the negative self-talk, the voice telling me to starve, convincing me of the “easy” solution to my weight problem. (What a lie, we all know an eating disorder is not easy) I’ve remained strong. I’m by no stretch of the imagination perfect. But I decided to share some tips on what has helped me, in the hopes that it might help you, too.
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This ensures you still have to try to get in the proper amount of calories. It’s sort of like pregnancy: your body is feeding your baby, you have to take care of yourself to take care of your baby. I know people will comment (“The weight will fall right off, you’re breastfeeding!”). Ignore them. Breastfeeding is my “excuse” to eat. If I don’t eat, my milk dries up, and then I’ll need to feed my son formula–which I can’t afford.
2) Have Support in Place
Whether it’s your mother, partner, best friend, or someone else, you need someone you can talk to that won’t judge you. Logically, you may know you need to eat. But eating disorders are NOT logical. You’re not a bad mom because of your eating disorder. You’re not a bad mom for having disordered thoughts. You need a support member that will remember this and never treat you as though you’re inadequate simply because you’ve got your demons.
3) See a Therapist
Hopefully, you’ve already got a therapist, but if not: find one! I promise once you find the right therapist, your whole life will change. I know that’s a really strong claim, but I believe it’s true.
Another tip is: if you’ve got a therapist but don’t feel that connection, get a new one! Like, yesterday. I promise you, it won’t hurt their feelings. I was stuck with a therapist that literally did nothing for me for a year because I was so afraid of hurting her feelings. Looking back, I wonder what life would have been like if I’d just put on my big girl panties and gotten a new therapist. Alas.
4) Use a Mantra, It’s Not as Lame as it Sounds!
Here are a few examples, but you should really just use whatever works for you.
“Everything I do is for (baby).”
“I need to stay healthy for (baby).”
“I’m stronger than my disordered thinking.”
“A number does not determine my worth.”
“My body is special, it can create life!”
“I am more than just my body.”
Using a mantra when you want to engage in eating disorder behavior can be extremely powerful. It’s a way to redirect your mind away from the harmful behaviors and towards something more positive. Write you mantra down, stick it everywhere! The more you use it, the more naturally it will come, I promise.
5) Create a Relapse Prevention Plan (RPP)
I’m actually working on creating one for you, one you can fill in yourself, obviously. But if you’re interested, get on my email list so I can tell you when it’s ready (plus you’ll get access to my exclusive library with all my freebies)! Basically, this is a worksheet you can look at when you feel yourself slipping down the rabbit hole. It should include contact information for your support system, some self-soothing techniques to try, things to do instead, etc. It can really include anything you’d find helpful when you feel the urge to give in.
Are you struggling with an eating disorder? Did you learn anything new? Please be sure to share this so it can find more women struggling with eating disorders.
If you’re struggling:
Please check out ANAD or call their hotline at 630-577-1330. There is help available and you do not need to suffer alone or in silence.
And if you’d like to help spread some more awareness, pin this or any of the other images here.