Pregnancy saved my life: Recovering anorexic reveals how desire for baby helped her defeat food demons

A mother-to-be has told how becoming pregnant has helped to save her life after years of suffering from a debilitating eating disorder.

Catherine Thomson, 27, battled with anorexia for seven years before she fell pregnant with her first child.

The childcare worker, who lives in Derby with
husband Jamie, 28, first noticed that she was experiencing problems with
food after a diet spun out of control.

Catherine Thomson

 Catherine Thomson who was anorexic

Recovering: Catherine still faces a daily battle but says she is determined to eat healthily for the sake of her baby

She said: 'I found it quite easy to lose weight and I felt in control of something in my life.

'I’d been bullied at school and I’d been
in an unhealthy relationship. These two things, I think, had knocked my

The childcare worker had lost five stone during the course of her illness and was hospitalised in July 2010. At one point even size six clothes hung off her painfully thin frame.

Catherine revealed how being admitted to hospital was the wake-up call she needed to tackle her issues.

With the help of a nutritionist and
volunteers from eating disorder charity, First Steps Derbyshire, she was
able to gain enough body mass for her periods to return.


An eating disorder and a serious mental health condition

People with anorexia have problems with eating, meaning they are very anxious about their weight and keep it as low as possible by strictly controlling and limiting what they eat

Many people will also exercise excessively to lose weight

Some people will also binge eat, i.e. they eat a lot of food in a short space of time. They then try to get rid of the food from their body by vomiting or using laxatives

Symptoms usually begin gradually, such as adopting a restrictive diet and often spiral out of control quickly

The leading cause of mental health-related deaths

Most cases of anorexia develop in girls and women usually during the teenage years

Anorexia also affects 1 in every 2,000 men

The cause is unknown, but most experts believe the condition results from a combination of biological, psychological and environmental factors

Around 20-30 per cent of people with anorexia do not respond to treatment, and around 5 per cent will die from complications caused by malnutrition

If you're having problems with an eating disorder please contact

She said: 'I hadn’t had a normal period in years.

'When I started to feel better about myself, I started thinking about what I wanted in life.

'I knew I wanted to start a family but I never really thought it would happen.

'Jamie and I talked about it and we
decided that we both wanted it. I had started to put on weight and my
eating plan was still going strong. It was time to see if I could get

In October, Catherine received the news she had been waiting
to hear – she was pregnant.

'We were thrilled,' she said.

'It’s what
we both wanted and I can’t tell you how happy we are. I can’t find the
right words,' she said.

It was the push she needed to make sure she maintained a healthy weight.

'I’m not cured,' she said.

'Every day, I have to fight with the voices in my head but it’s different now – because I’ve won the battle.

'I know I have to eat because I’m having a baby.'

Catherine says she always eats breakfast, has a sandwich at lunchtime and never misses her dinner.

She said: 'I celebrated news of my pregnancy with something lovely to eat. I’m not cured – don’t think the anorexia has gone.

'I’m not sure it will ever really leave me but I am working my hardest to overcome my problems with food.'