Is pregorexia for real?
Answer From Yvonne Butler Tobah, M.D.
"Pregorexia" is a term coined by the media that refers to a desire to control pregnancy weight gain through extreme dieting and exercise.
Health care providers don't uniformly recognize the term, but the behavior associated with pregorexia is real and could harm a baby's health. While far more women gain too much weight during pregnancy, some women do excessively worry about their weight gain and experience body image issues during pregnancy. The risk of pregorexia might be higher for women who have a history of eating disorders and those who have a weak social support system.
Specific warning signs of pregorexia might include:
- Talking about the pregnancy as if it weren't real
- Heavily focusing on calorie counts
- Eating alone or skipping meals
- Exercising excessively
Your health care provider can help you determine an appropriate weight gain during pregnancy, based on your pre-pregnancy weight and body mass index. He or she can also explain how to use healthy lifestyle habits and proper nutrition to control weight gain during pregnancy. It might be helpful to consult a registered dietitian or a mental health provider as well.
Appropriate weight gain during pregnancy is crucial for both maternal and fetal well-being. If you're pregnant and struggling with your body image, share your concerns with your health care provider.
Yvonne Butler Tobah, M.D.
Dec. 11, 2020
- Mathieu J. What is pregorexia? Journal of the American Dietetic Association. 2009; doi:10.1016/j.jada.2009.04.021.
- Zauderer CR. Eating disorders and pregnancy: Supporting the anorexic or bulimic expectant mother. MCN, The American Journal of Maternal Child Nursing. 2012;37:48.
- Pregnancy and body image. Office on Women's Health. https://www.womenshealth.gov/mental-health/body-image-and-mental-health/pregnancy-and-body-image. Accessed Oct. 1, 2020.