Think eating disorders and body issues are limited to teenage girls? Nope. Teens, men, women, transgender people, all races and ethnicities, active duty military, and – disproportionately – women over 50 struggle with eating well. Despite treatment advances, mortality rates for eating disorders remains high. It’s critical for everyone to know the warning signs and seek help if needed.
Jill, Gennev CEO, spoke with Julie Duffy Dillon, Registered Dietitian, Eating Disorder and Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) Specialist, and Food Behavior Expert, about the reasons women suffer disordered eating in midlife and what they can do to avoid or correct unhealthy eating.
In part 1 of “making peace with food in midlife and menopause,” listen as Jill and Julie talk about what Julie calls the “food peace journey” and how, as individuals and as a culture, we’ve gotten so far away healthy eating behaviors. In part 1, Julie introduces us to the idea of “intuitive eating” and how our society’s food rules (never eat before bedtime, for example) and misunderstanding of symbolic hunger have made us less healthy, not more.
Julie is trained as a mental health counselor and supervises dietitians and other health professionals to use weight-inclusive and attuned-eating strategies, so listen in as she tells Jill how we can all get on the road to food peace.
Does food have too much power in your life, Julie asks. Do you find yourself thinking about food all the time? If so, it might be time for some intervention. If you’re avoiding situations and people because you fear the food involvement (pizza night with the family, for example), your situation may be bordering on dangerous.
Eating disorders run the gamut, Julie says, but some women in midlife do have a particular vulnerability in body changes due to the shift in estrogen. We don’t yet understand the exact cause and effect or who might be more likely to develop a food disorder, but because every woman experiences changes at this time, all women should be on guard against unhealthy eating habits. There may be a biologically useful reason for those 15 pounds at menopause, by the way, and unhealthy consequences to fighting the gain.
[More from Julie on why eating disorders in women in midlife are so common.]
Yep, says Julie. Our bodies don’t understand weight loss “on purpose,” so it starts going into survival mode, shutting down systems and sending hunger signals. Julie goes into some of the physical and emotional repercussions of overly restricted eating. Dieting is pretty counter-productive, according to Julie, so maybe don’t do it. There are better ways to be healthy.
[Speaking of potentially unhealthy dieting, read Julie’s thoughts on intermittent fasting in menopause.]
Stop fighting your body, Julie says. Celebrate the gifts you have to give, value your body and its wisdom.
Stay tuned for our next podcast with Amanda Giralmo, owner of wellthielife.com. This awesome holistic health coach is telling us what causes inflammation, how our bodies respond (hint: it ain’t good), and the changes we can make to reduce, avoid, and correct inflammation. Be sure to check back here and also subscribe to us on iTunes, Stitcher, SoundCloud, and Google Play so you never miss an episode.
Interested in learning more about accepting your midlife body? Work with a Registered Dietitian and get your Personalized Health Plan with a HealthFix Membership!
When do you feel your best? At a certain weight, when you’re exercising regularly, when you eat a particular way, or only when the planets are in some kind of mystical alignment? We’d love to hear how you strive to be your best and what works (or doesn’t) for you. Please share by posting on Gennev's Facebook page, or joining Midlife & Menopause Solutions, Gennev's closed Facebook group.