You say you are an emotional eater. Did you know that pregnancy is a very difficult time when it comes to eating? Pregnancy is a time of hormones gone wild: the increases in estrogen, progesterone and human chorionic gonadotropin lead to insomnia, mood disturbances AND food cravings. At the very least, the pregnant woman has abnormal taste and smell perception, which leads to the intense desire for some foods and aversion to others. Cravings for sweet foods are very typical. If you are an emotional eater, that will make your time in pregnancy even more difficult.
Having abnormal food cravings in pregnancy is very normal: one South African study showed that up to 84% of pregnant women have some kind of food craving. It does not mean you are a food addict if you are wolfing down sugars uncontrollably. It is an example of how hormones can strongly dictate appetite. Typical foods that pregnant (and premenstrual) women share are chocolate, pizza, cheese, even ice, and in some cases mud or dirt or cigarette butts. These cravings, which can be completely new to a women’s usual diet occur most often in the first trimester.
You are right to be concerned about the effects that your emotional eating may have on the baby. Junk food habits and maternal obesity of the new mother can get passed on to the baby. Unfortunately, studies are suggesting that emotional eating can be transferred to an infant.
You say you are an emotional eater. I wonder if perhaps you might be a food addict? Read the 20 questions below to see if they fit your profile of how you eat. If they do, you may have a food addiction. If you think you might, then the next step is to stop eating the trigger foods – in your case, probably the very foods that you are overeating to soothe your emotions.
Keep in mind that sugar and carb cravings are as intense as drug cravings, and will require drastic actions. You may even experience a withdrawal: stronger cravings, irritability, agitation, insomnia…. The good news is that if you don’t ‘cheat’ after a few weeks of abstinence, your food cravings will subside.
This is of course much easier said than done. I encourage you to go to my website: addictionsunplugged.com, and find out some resources that will help you quit. There is lots of information as well as resources like 12 step groups. Like with any addiction, it is almost impossible to quit your drug of choice alone! It may feel like you simply cannot resist, and when that feeling comes up, having someone to call to help is essential.
You also said that you have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and depression. While these may be the direct result of your emotional eating (food will produce mood instability), you may also have these conditions that may need to be treated. Have you stopped taking your medications? Are you sure that you should not be taking your medications? This is something you should talk to your doctor about. Please do not decided to stop on your own.
Check out these questions to see if you are addicted to food:
The 20 questions for food addiction:
1. Have you ever wanted to stop eating and found you just couldn’t?
2. Do you think about food or your weight constantly?
3. Do you find yourself attempting one diet or food plan after another, with no lasting success?
4. Do you binge and then “get rid of the binge” through vomiting, exercise, laxatives, or other forms of purging?
5. Do you eat differently in private than you do in front of other people?
6. Has a doctor or family member ever approached you with concern about you're eating habits or weight?
7. Do you eat large quantities of food at one time (binge)?
8. Is your weight problem due to you're “nibbling” all day long?
9. Do you eat to escape from your feelings?
10. Do you eat when you’re not hungry?
11. Have you ever discarded food, only to retrieve and eat it later?
12. Do you eat in secret?
13. Do you fast or severely restrict your food intake?
14. Have you ever stolen other people’s food?
15. Have you ever hidden food to make sure you have “enough?”
16. Do you feel driven to exercise excessively to control your weight?
17. Do you obsessively calculate the calories you’ve burned against the calories you’ve eaten?
18. Do you frequently feel guilty or ashamed about what you’ve eaten?
19. Are you waiting for your life to begin “when you lose the weight?”
20. Do you feel hopeless about your relationship with food?
Copyright © 2000-2010 Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous