One of the biggest challenges an eating disordered woman can face, is motherhood. The inevitable loss of complete control over your body is terrifying, and eating more to sustain a pregnancy goes against everything your disordered mind has taught you. Once your baby arrives there are even more triggers thrown at you. Suddenly people are commenting on your postpartum body and engaging her in conversations about the bodies of others. These are just some of the many cruel things anyone can do to a mom suffering from an eating disorder.
As many people who have suffered from eating disorders know, you don't completely "recover," so much as you learn the tools of coping to keep it at bay. The disorder is always there; lurking in the background and awaiting certain triggers that can bring the disordered ways of thinking and behaving to the surface. I have worked extremely hard over the past decade to keep my disorder in check. Unless you know me really well (or are reading this article), you probably don't know about this part of my past. The short story is, my anorexia began my freshman year in college after a dalliance with one of those diets you sign up for locally in your town (with special pills and a coach). That "diet" led to a complete love affair with lists and calorie counting. I spent my lunch hours at a women's health clinic studying the on-staff nutritionist's books and memorizing the calorie count of literally everything. I spent hours in supermarkets and came back shaking and empty handed. I exercised two hours a day. It has been a long journey to get here and to embrace two healthy pregnancies and enjoy two big bellies, and to be OK with my postpartum body not being how it used to be before.
Admittedly, none of the "cruel" things I'm discussing here are overtly cruel, because the people performing these arguably minor cruelties most likely do not know that the person they are saying them to (like me) is suffering or has suffered an eating disorder in the past. I suppose, the most we could expect from one another is sensitivity when talking about our bodies; whether we are pregnant, not pregnant, disordered eaters, or just regular folks going about our business. I think that a lot of people feel sensitive when it comes to talking about food, their weight, and their bodies, so questions or comments on those topics are best to be held back unless someone has invited them or specifically encouraged those questions in conversation.