Help for Eating Issues

After what for many people amounts to the biggest eating day of the year, I thought it would be appropriate to post this interview with Funky About Food nutrition expert Lynn Penrose, R.D.

Lynn is a Registered Dietitian and her expertise is in emotional eating and other “funky” issues we have with food. She offers coaching services, vlogs, a newsletter and other help on her site.

I wanted to interview Lynn for the podcast, but we had difficulties getting together, and then experienced technical difficulties once we did connect. Let me know if this topic interests you, and I’ll schedule Lynn again for a show! (And if you have additional questions you’d like me to ask Lynn, please also leave that in the comments.)

We’re talking about emotional eating issues. I don’t need to tell any of you that this is a big issue, especially for us gals. For me personally, coming up on the winter season is a time for major carbohydrate cravings due to winter blues.

Carrie: I’ve heard the term orthorexia more and more online in recent months. While it’s great that we are becoming more educated about nutrition, some can go too far in the other direction. What is orthorexia, and how big of a problem is this becoming?

Lynn: Orthorexia is an obsession with eating healthy foods and takes healthy eating to the extreme.  Someone who suffers with orthorexia believes they are “above” others because their food choices are so righteous.   Their virtuous way of eating offers them a peaceful sense of control.

Someone who suffers with orthorexia believes they are “above” others because their food choices are so righteous. It is a growing problem for two reasons:

  • It is a gateway to a full blown eating disorder.
  • Children of orthorexics receive the message that their food choices are an appropriate way to derive self-esteem.

C: Why are women more susceptible to “funky food” issues? Does our cycle/hormones have anything to do with it?

Lynn: Absolutely!  Our monthly menstrual cycle plays a MAJOR role in the food choices we make and how we feel in our bodies! We are more susceptible to “funky food” issues because most women are not in sync with how directly connected our food intake is with the changes in our hormone levels.

I teach women how to work along with their cycle, rather than against it because it’s a fact of life! For example:

**Day 1 to 14 our hormone levels are balanced and we experience the following:

- A decrease in appetite; we are easily satiated with “lighter” foods
- Cravings for sugar and salt are lower
- Body image is generally more positive

**Day 14 to 30 our body prepares for a fertilized egg by building a lining of the uterus so this egg can implant itself and grow and we experience the following:

- An increase in appetite; we desire more calorically dense foods
- Temporary fluid shifts results in feelings of weight gain (we believe its “real” and freak out)
- Body Image declines due to increase in stress levels and fluid shifts

The truth about this is that 2 weeks out of the month, we feel ok about our food intake and bodies and the next 2 weeks we feel like we are out of control. Attributing our feelings and intake to shifting hormones is paramount!

(I wrote about this issue here: post ovulation depression. It really is true that “knowledge is power” when it comes to the connection between our cycles and eating!)

C: What can we do as parents to teach our kids healthy eating attitudes and prevent them from having food issues?

Lynn: A healthy eating attitude is eating according to our hunger and fullness signals.  If a parent eats according to these signals, it’s the best way to prevent their child from having food issues.

Too many discussions about healthy and unhealthy or good and bad foods leads the child to think too much about their food choices, which can result in a decreased ability to read the subtle hunger and fullness cues the bodies provides.

C: Do you have any advice for parents of picky eaters?

Lynn: Leave it alone! 

The more focus parents put on a child intake, the more the child may dig their heels in.  Gentle encouragement to try new foods when the moments feel right is indicated.

Thanks Lynn!

If you have more questions about emotional eating or other food issues, please ask in the comments.

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3 Responses to Help for Eating Issues

  1. Nice suggestions. It was tough for me at first with my toddler who refuses to eat anything healthy. But now after 1 year struggle I have learned my lesson.
    “Leave it alone”

  2. Gakoenigs says:

    Wow…this is SO timely! I’d love to hear more from Lynn. Having grown up with an anorexic mother, I’ve harbored all kinds of “funky food” issues. As a mother of two girls, one now in middle school, I’ve tried very hard to not project my issues on their choices. Unfortunately, it seems to have back fired with my oldest daughter who now coins me the “health freak”. I don’t think I fall under the “orthorexic” category b/c quite frankly, I don’t have enough will power to not enjoy the experience of different foods. :) I tried to focus on making healthy choices as they were growing up, not good vs bad or fattening etc. however my eldest has become the pickiest of the three and seems to have developed anxiety around meal time and food choices. Couple that with her hormones changing and it’s like a perfect storm! I’m terrified for her to grow up and develop food issues like I did. A therapist recommended simply backing off for a few weeks…gently guide her to make balanced choices but don’t let it become a power struggle and then journal about it. I think it’s helped a bit but I’d love to hear other thoughts…especially since it’s apparent I haven’t fully gotten over my own issues after all these years :) .

  3. Emily says:

    We have only healthy foods around the house, so whatever DS wants to eat is mostly fine with me (I do restrict the high-glycemic fruits, mostly for dental hygiene reasons).

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