Episode 83: Eating Disorders and Menopause with Val Schonberg
Val Schonberg joins Peace Meal to discuss eating disorders during menopause, an often-overlooked period of vulnerability for midlife individuals. She begins by explaining why this life stage carries an increased risk for disordered eating and eating disorders. Our cultural biases toward aging and weight are partially to blame, she says, which can lead providers to misdiagnose or completely miss disordered eating behaviors. To better serve midlife individuals during this vulnerable period, Val urges healthcare providers to re-evaluate their own beliefs about aging, weight, and menopause. She emphasizes that menopause is a natural phase of life and not a “disease” that must be “fixed,” as many problematic cultural messages suggest. Val ends the podcast by expressing her belief that everyone can recover – no matter their age – and that aging is a precious gift.
Val Schonberg is a Registered and Licensed Dietitian with a master’s degree in nutrition science from the University of Minnesota. She is Board Certified as a Specialist in Sports Dietetics, a Certified Menopause Practitioner with the North American Menopause Society, and a Fellow of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Val owns a private practice in Atlanta, Georgia, where she specializes in midlife health and menopause, recreational and professional sports nutrition, all types of eating disorders, and helping individuals break free from dieting and disordered eating.
Originally from Minnesota, Val’s experience and expertise come from years of practice in many settings, including women’s health, eating disorder treatment, Division 1 college sports medicine, professional dance organizations, and speaking regionally and nationally on numerous nutrition-related topics. In addition to individual nutrition counseling, she is the consulting dietitian for Emory Sports Medicine and Orthopedics, Atlanta Ballet, and the Atlanta Dream WNBA team.
Val is passionate about providing nutrition care to populations vulnerable to disordered eating and promoting positive nutrition messages that help people make informed decisions about their health and live a life where they are at peace in their relationship with food and their body.
- Why the transition to menopause can increase the risk for disordered eating and/or an eating disorder
- How all eating disorder diagnoses are prevalent in middle-aged individuals
- Why menopausal individuals need support with their mental health as well as their physical health
- How providers can better serve menopausal individuals with disordered eating and/or an eating disorder
- How the public opinion surrounding menopause must be changed to eliminate shame and stigma
In Val’s words:
- On the importance of self-reflection when working with menopausal individuals: “All of us really need to recognize and challenge ageism and weight bias. And, you know, part of that is then being curious, really curious, about your own views about aging, weight, and menopause.”
- On supporting individuals who feel uncomfortable in their bodies: “Some of it is just validating, right? ‘This really sucks,’ instead of, ‘You just need to wake up and be positive about your body and just accept this.’ I am a big fan of body positivity and body acceptance and I do a lot of work with that, but the bridge to get to that space is…. just looking at it, validating it… sitting in the muck together.”
- On recovery and aging: “I really believe that recovery is possible for everyone… and that aging and growing older is one of the best gifts in life.”
About the podcast:
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