I'm only (only?!) four months into pregnancy, but already this early mamahood experience is teaching me so much. Number one is this: trust. I've already written about trusting in the face of fear or adversity. But beyond that I've been learning that my body is trustworthy.
I don't know if it's typical for eating disordered people to mistrust their body, but I know that I did.I thought that if I fed it any fat, or even slightly beyond the minimum calorie level, I would blow up to proportions to rival Jabba the Hutt. I did not trust my body, and controlled my food intake with white-knuckled fists.
Until I got pregnant. And even then, I planned to stay with my low-fat diet, at least until my doctor ordered otherwise. But I didn't count on my body revolting against all thing vegetable and non-fat salad dressing and basically all of the fat-free, low-cal foods I attempted to nourish my body with. My pregnant body didn't want more salad -- it wanted fat.
So, fearing the worst, I gave in. I started to eat low- and full-fat cheeses, hamburgers, regular pizza slices, and salad dressings that had fat in them. I waited for my new Jabba body to arrive.
And . . . it didn't. At least, it hasn't yet. It wasn't until I weighed myself yesterday that I found that I'd gained a small and healthy amount of weight. In fact, earlier on in pregnancy I actually lost some weight. I lost weight while eating lots of fat.
Which leads me to the conclusion that our bodies really do need fat. Especially bodies that survived the self-starvation of anorexia. I have read on many ex-anorexics' blogs that they must eat more than the daily recommended amount of fat to maintain their health, especially the health of their reproductive systems. And now, I'm inclined to believe them.
Most women, my doctor and my pregnancy books have told me, crave sweets during pregnancy. Their bodies are working hard to knit together a human being, and that extra energy expenditure gets translated into a craving for sugar and carbohydrates. But I didn't crave sugar. I craved fat. I craved beef. And when I fed my body what it called for, I felt immeasurably healthy and strong.
Our bodies know what they need. Yes, sometimes we crave things that we don't actually "need," but those cravings are a message from our bodies. If you are craving a gallon of ice cream, perhaps it's time for some fruit and yogurt (low-fat, even!). If you are wanting a bag of candy, perhaps whole wheat pasta should be on the menu for dinner. Our bodies want certain things for a reason. They are not trying to sabotage us, to make us fat, but instead are working hard to ensure our enduring health.
Our bodies know what they need. My body knows what it needs. And trusting my body has been a scary and exhilarating and profound learning experience that I am so grateful for. What do you think your body might be trying to tell you today?
"He'll show us the way he works so we can live the way we're made." ~ Isaiah 2:1-5
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