In their quest to maintain that perfect yummy mummy image, some pregnant women deliberately restrict their diet rather than nourish their unborn child. HEALTH investigates
A Dangerous Trend
Pregorexia is a new buzz word that is similar to anorexia, but one that occurs during and after pregnancy and causes the woman who suffers from it guilt and shame similar to what is experienced by almost all sufferers of anorexia. In fact, some women have been struggling with disordered eating before conception and these symptoms have continued into pregnancy. Most of the time these women know they are restricting calories and it is not good for them or the baby’s development.
Media messages can contribute to the point where attractiveness is portrayed as an ideal that is mostly unattainable for the majority of the female population. Many women struggle with these images, even girls as young as 13 years old feel pressured by these media images, most of which are airbrushed and digitally manufactured. From a psychological perspective, this perpetuates the feeling of ‘not being good enough’. Also, by restricting nutritional intake, the body goes into a state of crisis. The human brain needs sucrose in order to think, analyze, and make healthy decisions.
According to experts, all pregnant women, no matter what they weigh prior to pregnancy, must gain weight and that weight gain has short-and long-term consequences for the health of the mother. Pregnant women need an extra 300 calories daily which equates to about 1,900 to 2,500 calories a day and afterwards, an extra 500 calories daily during breastfeeding. A proper diet during pregnancy includes proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals, and plenty of water. Rather than consuming three large meals a day, experts advise to stick to five or six small meals per day. Also, aim to consume fruits and vegetables high in water content such as tomatoes, watermelon, grapefruit, strawberries, lettuce, spinach, zucchini, and grapes.
Reasons Dieting Can Be Harmful
During pregnancy, it is very important not to restrict the diet. An unborn baby might not receive the right amounts of protein, vitamin and minerals and low caloric diets can affect and breakdown a pregnant woman’s stored fat, which may lead to the production of ketones. These are found in the mother’s blood and urine and are a sign of starvation and constant production of ketones may result in a mentally slow child. Calcium deficiency can lead to osteoporosis and a lack of folic acid and the B complex group from dairy products and green leafy vegetables may lead to neural tube defects. In fact, women who enter pregnancy at a normal BMI and gain within the recommended ranges are more likely to have a good birth outcome.