Emotional Eating and Menopause - A Perfect Storm!

As an eating disorder specialist, you might come across women who find that having menopausal symptoms leads to an eating disorder that has been managed in the past and other women that suffer from eating disorders for the first time during their menopause.

In this blog today, I will be talking about the impact menopause can have on a woman with a history of emotional or binge eating disorder and how this time of life can be a perfect storm for some women.

Menopause can Trigger Binge Eating Disorder

Hormonal changes, combined with social pressures, can create a “perfect storm,” for an eating disorder to develop. Not only women are dealing with tremendous hormonal changes, but they might find themselves fighting with other milestones such as adult children leaving home, looking after elderly parents, or even marital breakdown.

These can be triggers for a new or long-standing issue of emotional eating and binge eating:

  • Divorce
  • Aging process
  • Death of a friend or spouse
  • Children moving out (or moving back in)
  • Aging parents
  • Children getting married
  • Becoming a grandparent

Women in their 40s might have yo-yo dieting for years knowing that they’re emotional or binge eaters, they know that the cycle of Quick Fix dieting is no longer going to work to manage their weight, and they are finally able to be open about their eating disorder and find help from an eating disorder specialist.

What are the common symptoms of menopause?

Every woman’s menopause experience is unique and feels different for everyone, a woman can have a number of symptoms or none.

Menopause and perimenopause symptoms can have a big impact on women’s daily life, including relationships, family, work, and social life. Some of these symptoms include, but are not limited to:

  • poor sleep
  • hot flashes
  • night sweats
  • irritability
  • lack of motivation
  • lack of libido
  • inability to concentrate
  • sometimes high anxiety, which many people do not realize, is a common and serious side effect of menopause.
  • Constant itching or unexplained. This itching could be for no particular reason; certain parts of your body need it all the time.
  • changes in bladder control

Plus, you put all of this on top of a long-standing emotional eating or binge eating disorder, and you have a woman who is literally at the end of her temper.

Menopause and Binge Eating Disorder

A recent study has shown that up to 25% of women will leave work due to the consequences of menopause on their ability to do their job! All of these life experiences that can happen during menopause, can be a significant source of stress. That will be incredibly challenging for a woman who is using food to self-regulate in times of stress.

As an Emotional Eating Specialist, if you are looking at a client who is perimenopausal or menopausal with a long-standing history of emotional eating or binge eating and yo-yo dieting, and they’re struggling with one or more of these life stages at this particular time in their lives, that is the ‘perfect storm’ that I am referring to.

The idea of the self-concept and so self-worth is fundamental here because changes in women’s body as a result of menopause can impact how they see themselves as a woman, as a sexual being, as somebody who is to reproduce or be able to get pregnant and if the relationships are breaking down, so they’re no longer a wife or a partner.

Subconsciously and unconsciously, these events can still impact that part of yourself that’s stuck on past trauma where you think, no wonder everybody leaves you, or you’re being abandoned. 

All sorts of conscious, subconscious, and unconscious factors play out with menopausal women, depending on how many of these circumstances they have in their lives.

Helping a client as an Eating Freely PRACTITIONER

If you’re a coach or a nutritional therapist, and the client show menopause symptoms or side effects of emotional eating or binge eating, working just on the food and lifestyle changes, that’s not going to work for the client either because there is a whole host of other things that need to be dealt with also. 

So it’s essential to understand where you’re sitting on the spectrum of where you can help, what the client needs, and who else you might need to bring in for that client. 

As a client, really important to be very honest with your practitioner and let them know exactly what’s going on, all the different challenges that are happening, and making sure that you’re lining up at the very least the correct health that you need and maybe doing it in the right order so that when you come in at the other end, you’re going to have substantially addressed and dealt with, you know everything that’s going up.

Menopause and Binge Eating Professionals

I’ve been very fortunate to work with outstanding menopause specialists, document my own experience in menopause, and look for the help I needed with the symptoms I was experiencing. I have helped her to develop professional training in this area. So I now have a network of menopause specialists that I can refer people to and my own network of emotional and binge eating specialists who I have trained, and some of them are also menopause specialist certified.

Whether you’re a professional and you are looking for professional training in either of these areas, or whether you’re a woman looking for support with menopause symptoms or emotional and binge eating disorder, please always feel free to reach out and ask for information.