Feel more confident about your body in your 40's and beyond - Here's how

Val Schonberg sits outside wearing a white shirt
Or is dieting increasing perimenopause symptoms?

Episode 30: Hot flashes, night sweats, increased anxiety, increased cholesterol, increased blood sugar, increased body weight (especially around the waist), and decreased tolerance for BS...

If you're like many women in midlife, this sounds familiar.

Are these symptoms classic signs of perimenopause?

In many cases yes.

Can you control them by dieting? In many cases, you're told yes.

Which is one of many reasons eating disorders and disordered eating behaviors have become increasingly prevalent among women in their 30's, 40's, and 50's as a way to cope with the world, their changing bodies, and comply with doctors' orders to "just lose weight" to be healthier.

In her book Pursuing Perfection; Eating Disorders, Body Myths, and Women at Midlife and Beyond, Margo Maine, Ph.D. paints a brilliant picture of the impact that eating disorders and disordered eating have on women in midlife - a concept that isn't talked about enough in our popular culture or even the scientific literature.

In a 2012 study, women over 50 were heavily concerned with weight, the shape of their bodies, displayed body checking behaviors, engaged in dieting, and showed symptoms of eating disorders.(1)

Another study done in 2008 surveyed women in the US between the ages of 25-45 years old and found...

  • 67 percent were actively trying to lose weight (the study excluded women with diagnosed eating disorders)

  • 53 percent of current dieters were already at a healthy weight

  • 39 percent stated concerns about weight or eating interfering with their happiness

  • 37 percent regularly skipped meals to lose weight

  • 26 percent cut out entire food groups

  • 12 percent often ate when they weren't hungry, 49 percent sometimes did

  • 75 percent of the women in the study reported eating behaviors or symptoms consistent with eating disorders, but were not clinically diagnosed.(2)

In honor of eating disorder awareness month, I'm kicking off season 2 of the Savor Food and Body Podcast by interviewing guests who specialize in the treatment of eating disorders, women's health in midlife, and how deeply our cultural fascination with thinness and health contribute to the perfect body image storm that comes with aging.

My guest on the Savor Food and Body Podcast this week is Val Schonberg, a non-diet dietitian who specializes in perimenopause and menopause health, eating disorders and disordered eating recovery, and sports nutrition.

During our conversation, you'll hear...

  • Why the changing shape of womanhood (literally and figuratively) and perfectionism create the perfect storm in your relationship with food and your body.

  • What the difference is between positive, and negative body image vs. embodiment, and why this matters when it comes to healing your body image in midlife.

  • Plus the impact of weight stigma in health care related to addressing the natural process of aging, and what you can do to advocate for yourself.

  • Finally, Val leaves you with 3 strategies to live vibrantly in midlife without following any fad diets or taking bottles of supplements.

Val Schonberg MS, RDN, CSSD, LD, NCMP, FAND is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and owner of EnlightenU Nutrition Consulting, LLC

Val has 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 EnlightenU Nutrition Consulting, LLC, a private practice in Atlanta, Georgia where she specializes in nutrition for recreational and professional athletes, dancers and performing artists, women in midlife and menopause, and individuals with disordered eating concerns.

Originally from Minnesota, Val’s experience and expertise come from years of practice in many settings including 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 currently the consulting dietitian for Emory Sports Medicine and Orthopedics and the Atlanta Ballet. 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 confidently embrace their best self.

You can learn more about Val's work here

Other resources mentioned in the show include...

The Body Positive

Savor Food and Body Podcast Interview with Elizabeth Scott LCSW, CEDS-S, and co-founder of The Body Positive

Savor Food and Body Podcast Interview with Connie Sobczak executive director of The Body Positive and co-founder

If you found this episode helpful or inspiring, don't forget to rate, review, and share it with your friends! This kindness helps other women in midlife find the show too.

Stay connected with the Savor Food and Body Community by joining the show's weekly email. You'll also get 6 Strategies to Live Your Healthiest Life. Subscribe here

Until next time, keep savoring food and your body!


Pursuing Perfection; Eating Disorders, Body Myths, and Women at Midlife and Beyond, Margo Maine, Ph.D., FAED, CEDS, and Joe Kelly

1. Danielle A. Gagne, et al (2012) "Eating disorder symptoms and weight and shape concerns in a large web-based convenience sample of women ages 50 and above; Results of the gender and body image (GABI) study." International Journal of Eating Disorders, 45 (7), 832-844.

2. Lauren Reba-Harrelson, et al (2009) "Patterns and prevalence of disordered eating and weight control behaviors in women ages 25-45." Eating and Weight Disorders, 14 (4), 190-198.