Are you concerned that your child might have an eating disorder? What are some of the signs to look out for? How does your behavior with food and health impact your children?
In this podcast episode, Veronica Cisneros speaks to Dr. Aimee Foster about the signs of eating disorders in children.
Meet Dr. Foster
Dr. Foster is a licensed clinical psychologist and the Clinical Director for a large community mental health center in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Dr. Foster has extensive professional experience in the treatment of eating disorders in a variety of levels of care.
Although her current role is primarily administrative, Dr. Foster continues to provide continuing education courses and consultation around the treatment of eating disorders to mental health professionals across the country.
Email Dr. Foster at email@example.com
In This Podcast
- Diet culture
- The signs
- Combating negative body talk
- The stages
- Modeling healthy eating
If you’re not aware, don’t know how to ask the right questions, don’t know what questions to ask, don’t know when to tell when it’s crossing a line or believe that maybe an eating disorder is just a diet gone wrong – these can almost lead to encouraging eating disorders in a way that we’re not even familiar with.
How do we know if our child has an eating disorder, especially our teens? What should we be looking for? Insecurities about their bodies and having fear of fitting in are really common in adolescents. It is hard to differentiate between when it’s just normal teenage insecurity and when it has crossed the line into something we need to seek treatments for. Look for obsessive and excessive thinking and behavior:
- Teenagers can’t get their minds off of body image and it’s causing serious emotional distress.
- You’re seeing them isolating and crying.
- Begging for diet pills and weight watcher shakes for birthdays for example.
- Body checking – it’s normal for teenagers to check themselves out in the mirror but you need to monitor that it doesn’t become excessive.
- Monitor appetite – An obsession with “healthy” eating can be dangerous – orthorexia. If it transpires into a fear of anything that the teenager might enjoy e.g. I can’t go to that birthday party because I can’t be around those cupcakes. What if I eat one? This can lead to social isolation. which is not typical for teenage development.
- Monitor exercise – Obsessive or excessive exercise may be a form of eating disorder behavior. Anything over one hour of intentional exercise is overboard for someone in their teenage years.
Combating negative body talk
When teenagers or young children talk negatively about their bodies, the most appropriate and helpful response is to draw attention to something that isn’t body-related. Point out something about their character that you love or something that they did that made you laugh. We want to teach our kids that the way they look is not the most important thing about them and they have a lot of things to offer this world that isn’t body image related. Try not to use the word fat as it’s kind of a dirty word. It perpetuates this diet culture and pursuit of “thinness” instead of health.
Hunger is a biological drive, we eat to survive. And so, somebody’s ability at that level to completely ignore or shut that off, that requires something different happening in the brain. And so, when we get to that point, it’s very unnatural. And that’s, again, another reason why it becomes difficult to treat and that obviously, can be lethal.
Anorexia is lethal but once we get past a certain stage it is very difficult to treat. What are these stages?
- It starts with restricting unhealthy foods which then transpires into more food restriction, calorie counting, and compensating calorie intake with exercise.
- Food is nourishment for the brain and body, so if you’re starving yourself then your brain is not firing appropriately which can lead to further obsession and lack of logical thinking. We then run into the highest risk which is when the weight substantially drops.
- When someone who is too thin for their frame and they’re not nourishing their body, then the heart comes under pressure and heart conditions begin to arise. The most common form of death for somebody with anorexia is a heart attack. It can progress pretty quickly or slowly over time, it depends on the person
Dr. Foster calls bulimia the “silent killer.” It is also extremely dangerous but it isn’t considered to be as lethal as anorexia. People who suffer from bulimia aren’t necessarily underweight so they won’t necessarily experience the same heart problems, but it does highly impact different nutrients in the body e.g. potassium. When potassium levels are too low, it’s lethal, and it’s hard to see. When somebody is purging, they are getting rid of all of these electrolytes and when those things go out of whack, it can be very concerning.
Modeling healthy eating
We can eat intuitively, we can have some and not all, we can have a cookie and not the whole box, we can have pizza night, sometimes. Is there a balance in our lifestyle? That’s what we want to model, right? We don’t want to model those extremes. And so, when you’re, again, only eating the salad, only eating the protein shake, not showing any variation or flexibility in your nutrition, that’s going to trickle down, the kids are going to pick up on that.
It’s important to recognize that our kids will also emotionally eat, especially if it is something that has been modeled for them. Especially during this time, it is really hard when the kids are stuck at home and bored. Have some conversations with your kids about other things they can do instead of eating but don’t focus on weight, focus on health. Binge eating is not healthy. We don’t want to create rules around food but start talking to your kids about hunger cues, how do they know if they’re hungry and how do they know if they’re full? What are some things that they can do to occupy their time when they’re bored as opposed to just snacking?
In the next episode In part 2 we’re going to go ahead and learn how to talk to our children if they do have an eating disorder, and the dos and don’ts. Dr. Foster is also going to teach us what we can do now to go ahead and move forward to get the help and treatment we need or to go ahead and change up things in our household.
Books mentioned in this episode
Meet Veronica Cisneros
I’m a licensed therapist and women walk into my office every day stressed and disconnected. As a mom of three daughters, I want my girls to know who they are and feel confident about their future. I can’t think of a better way to help other women than by demonstrating an empowered and unapologetic life. So I started Empowered and Unapologetic to be a safe space for women to be vulnerable and change their lives for the better before she ever needs to see a therapist. Whether you listen to the podcast, join the free Facebook community, join the VIP community, or attend our annual retreat, you’re in the right place. Let’s do this together!
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[VERONICA]: Empowered and Unapologetic is part of the Practice of the Practice Podcast Network, a family of podcasts that changed the world. To hear other podcasts like, the Bomb Mom podcast, Beta Male Revolution, or Imperfect Thriving, go to practiceofthepractice.com/network. Have you ever thought, how did I manage to lose myself? Being a mom is so hard, especially when we’re feeling stressed and disconnected. We exhaust ourselves trying to create this perfect life for our family. You deserve to enjoy your marriage and your kids, without the stress perfectionism brings. I am going to teach you how to identify who you are, outside of all of the roles you play. Hi, I’m Veronica Cisneros. I’m a wife, mother of three and a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. I am on a mission to teach women, just like you, how to become empowered and unapologetic. Welcome to our girl gang. Hey ladies, welcome to Empowered and Unapologetic. I’m your host, Veronica Cisneros. Today’s guest is a licensed clinical psychologist and the clinical director for a large community mental health center in Cheyenne, Wyoming. She has intensive professional experience in the treatment of eating disorders in a variety of levels of care. Although her current role is primarily administrative, she provides continuing education courses and consultation around the treatment of eating disorders to mental health professionals across the country. So please help me by welcoming Dr. Aimee Foster. Hey, girl. [DR. AIMEE FOSTER]: Hey. [VERONICA]: So, I have to say I’m totally inspired by your ability to connect so easily with your patients. And Dr. Foster and I work together at a partial hospitalization program, and her and I became instant friends. She was so easy to talk to and obviously, I loved her contagious smile. And so, in today’s episode, I would love for you to educate us on what we can do as parents to assist our children who may be battling an eating disorder. I think as parents we tend to be a bit extreme; we’ll either overreact due to being uninformed, or the complete opposite which is doing nothing and pretending the problem doesn’t even exist or it’ll go away. And I see this personally in my own private practice, and I would love to arm our listeners with the tools they need to help their children all together. [DR. AIMEE FOSTER]: Absolutely. [VERONICA]: So, can you tell us – can you tell us a little bit about your background? Your story? [DR. AIMEE FOSTER]: Yeah, definitely. So, I guess, just going way back, I started… obviously I have a undergraduate degree in psychology and then I decided to pursue a masters in clinical psychology and then also a doctorate. So, I kind of went all the way and during my training, I really, well, I had some personal experiences with eating disorder just with some friends and family in my life. And so, as I started my training, that was kind of an area of focus that I felt like I wanted to kind of dive a little bit deeper into; I wanted to more fully understand the why. And I wanted to be able to kind of help people who were in the, you know, the situation of battling an eating disorder. So, while I was in graduate school, I took some courses around this but then I was able to land a job in an eating disorder program, it was a lockdown facility, actually. So, it was an inpatient facility. It also had a residential program attached to it. So, I kind of got some early experiences with the treatment of eating disorders and in sort of the most severe population out there. So, it was incredibly fascinating and powerful, and I really got to see the potential for recovery and kind of the ins and outs of what eating disorders look like. So, with that experience I continued on in my training and continued to work at an outpatient level of care. So just kind of basic individual therapy, treating eating disorders and with my experience, you know, what I came to find is that in the field of eating disorders, there’s either people with treatment experience or people without treatment experience, there’s not a whole lot of in between, like people either really know how to focus the treatment for an eating disorder or they don’t have any training or experience in the treatment of eating disorder. So, I kind of quickly became an expert in a lot of places that I was working or continuing my training. I went on then to pursue postdoctoral education in eating disorders and oversaw a partial hospitalization and intensive outpatient treatment program, in a large hospital system, for the treatment of eating disorder. So, I received training there, again, a high level of care. These are people, both adolescents and adults, who could come to treatment Monday through Friday and receive programming and services, meet with a dietitian, meet with a psychiatrist, a medical professional. And then they would go home, say in the evenings or weekends. So, I did that for a number of years. And that really solidified my training and then, you know, based on that experience, receiving the supervision and again, the training that I did, I was able to then classify myself as an expert and since have been doing a lot of consultation. Again, teaching online classes, I do CEUs or continuing education courses for mental health professionals who are trying to figure out you know, the best course of treatment for eating disorders, obviously, they pop up in a lot of places. And again, we kind of have people who are very familiar with the treatment models or people who have no experience. And so, there’s not a whole lot of gray area. So, I found that that consultation piece has been really helpful. [VERONICA]: Absolutely, absolutely. And I appreciate that you said that – you either know or you don’t know. [DR. AIMEE FOSTER]: Yeah. [VERONICA]: And I’ve run into a couple clients who, you know, have been with therapists who never ever addressed the eating disorder at all. And so, the client went so long, you know, and their eating disorder, the symptoms, got even more and more severe. And it was like, girl, wait a minute, no, you know, we actually have to go to an expert. We have to go one step higher. [DR. AIMEE FOSTER]: Definitely. And I think that, you know, part of the dilemma too is that we have such a diet culture. [VERONICA]: Yes. [DR. AIMEE FOSTER]: So then people… if you’re not aware, if you don’t know how to ask the right questions, or you don’t know what questions to ask, or you don’t know how to tell when it’s kind of crossed that line, or if there’s, you know, this belief that maybe an eating disorder is just a diet gone wrong, or… some of those things kind of lead to almost encouragement, you know, we tend to say, oh, you’ve lost weight, like, you look great, or we don’t worry about the fact that you’ve lost your appetite. Maybe we assume that’s a symptom of depression or, you know, so we kind of almost encourage eating disorder behavior in a way that we’re not even familiar with. And I think that’s kind of across our culture in general. [VERONICA]: Yes, I’m so glad you said that. I’m so so glad you said that. Because yeah, we don’t know and if you went from a 10 to now a size 2 it’s like, dude, good for you, you’re looking great, and you’re met with all of this positive feedback versus, okay, wait a minute, you did that in like two weeks. Or you did that in like, less than a month, what’s going on? So, can you share with us, what are the signs? Like, how do I know if my child has an eating disorder, especially our teens? What am I looking for? [DR. AIMEE FOSTER]: Yeah, it’s really common for adolescents to have, you know, insecurities about their body or fear of fitting in or, you know, being dissatisfied with the way they look. I mean, we’ve all seen that, you know, we know that teenagers just… really, their whole purpose is to find a friend group that they fit in, however that looks and whatever it takes to get there, right. So, it can be hard to differentiate, to say, you know, when is this just normal teenage insecurity and when has this crossed the line into something that maybe we need to seek treatment for? I think that any type of – I call it rumination, but like obsessive thinking… when you find that the teenager can’t get their mind off of body image, right? It’s causing like serious emotional distress. You’re seeing them kind of isolating and crying and you know, I’ve seen teenagers do things like beg their parents for diet pills. And you know, what I want for my birthday is Weight Watchers shakes and things like that. Also, you know, something to look for is body checking, teenagers do this a lot. You know, they walk by a mirror, they check themselves out, they’re constantly looking in the mirror, making sure they look okay, you know, like, making sure that everybody thinks they look good. But you also want to monitor, is that becoming… does that seem excessive? Has it crossed from like, normal teenage, you know, want to make sure that my friends think I’m cool, to I’m obsessing about this? So, I think a really big thing is, like I said, crossing over to that rumination or obsessive thinking about these things. And then also monitoring appetite or exercise, those are two really common things. And a lot of times teenagers will say, I’m just not hungry, right? Or that doesn’t sound good, or I prefer this. I’m a picky eater. You might only have this kind of thing or movement around orthorexia, which is an obsession with healthy eating. [VERONICA]: Yes. [DR. AIMEE FOSTER]: That transpires into kind of a fear of anything that might, you know, the teenager might enjoy, right? I can’t go to this birthday party, because I can’t be around those cupcakes because what if I eat one? Right? And so, you’re seeing that kind of social isolation. That’s not typical for teenage development. So, I think those are really big things to look for. And then like I said, exercise, obsessive or excessive exercise can be a form of eating disorder behavior. So if you are, you know, working with somebody, or you live with somebody who seems to be running to compensate for what they ate, like, oh, I feel guilty for eating pizza so I have to go to the gym for four hours. I would say that anything over sort of one hour a day of daily activity or exercise, intentional exercise is maybe overboard for somebody who’s in their teenage years. [VERONICA]: One thing that I found is, some moms will say, you know, my eight-year-old, whenever we’re in the pool, she’ll extend her belly and say, I have a big belly, I’m fat. And just kind of like, rub on their belly and you’re like, oh, well, this isn’t a big deal, she’s 8. Or my daughter, you know, is in junior high, and she’s not taking her lunch, or she’s not eating this, you know, or another thing with… I love that you said, this diet of being completely healthy. And so, it’s like, oh, my daughter’s taking on a healthy habit. And we all of a sudden end up encouraging it, right? [DR. AIMEE FOSTER]: Yeah. [VERONICA]: We don’t pay attention to everything else that’s going on. Because again, we don’t want to panic. However, there are times when we don’t panic or – I shouldn’t say when we don’t panic – when we don’t pay attention, and something goes even further. A friend of mine, her daughter, she went into being… stopped eating meat, stopped eating dairy. And all of a sudden, she had this substantial, like weight loss. And, you know, she was really scared. Really, really scared. Taking her to a pediatrician, checking her BMI and didn’t know what to do. And she’s like, you know, even if we just have healthy conversations, and I really, really appreciate that you’re giving us all of the signs to look for because I don’t think people realize how serious this can be. [DR. AIMEE FOSTER]: Yeah, and I think you know, something to keep in mind and that again, like you said, you don’t want to panic. But anorexia is a really serious illness. It’s up there in the top most lethal, right? So, I think that monitoring and keeping a close eye on these types of behaviors is really important, especially in the teenage years. And, you know, you mentioned like, you know, an eight-year-old kind of sticking out their belly and making a joke about them having a big belly. And when teenagers or even young children, comment about their body or talk negatively about their body, I think the most appropriate and helpful response is to draw the attention to something that’s not body related, like, you know, point out something about their character that you love or something that they did that made you laugh or, you know, just something else that’s not body related. Because I mean, at the end of the day, what we want to teach our kids is that, yeah, the way you look is important, right? That’s important in our communities, it’s important in our society, like, we can’t get around that. But it’s not the most important thing about you. And you have a lot of things to offer this world that aren’t body image related. So, let’s focus on those things instead. [VERONICA]: Okay, I can hear a mom saying, okay, well, wait a minute, isn’t that ignoring it? Isn’t that, you know, avoiding the conversation or, you know, I mean, I can totally hear somebody say that. And you’re not necessarily saying to completely pretend like it doesn’t exist. It’s like, okay, your daughter’s doing this. And we get to say out loud, you know, okay… Well, before I even say it, what would you say? So, if, you know, you see your cousin, your niece, your little brother, he’s coming up to you and saying, you know, Auntie, look at my big belly, I’m fat. What would be your direct response? What would happen in that moment, like, what would you say? [DR. AIMEE FOSTER]: Well, I think immediately, first, I would challenge that, right, by saying something like, first of all, you’re not fat. Second of all, I mean, I will say that the F word – fat – is kind of a dirty word. Like we shouldn’t use [unclear], right? Because it does kind of perpetuate this diet culture in this like, pursuit of thinness, instead of health and all of those things, so, you know, I would really challenge that, first of all, you’re not fat. Second of all, we don’t use that word. Third, I love your belly. It’s perfect. Like, if you didn’t have that belly, you wouldn’t be you. And now let’s talk about some of the other things I love about you. You know what else you are, you’re smart, and you’re talented, and you’re funny, right? And you have a ton of friends and you make everybody laugh. All of those other things that are more important, you enjoy helping people. Those things that are truly going to change the world. Right? Not just the way that you look. [VERONICA]: Yes. Can ask you, what are the stages? You mentioned something that was also extremely important. Anorexia, obviously it’s lethal. However, once we get past a certain stage, it’s very difficult to treat. It’s said to be more difficult than a drug addiction or alcoholism; it is extremely difficult to treat. So much so that some therapists won’t treat it. Some therapists will completely shy away from it, because of how difficult it is. So, can you please tell us what the stages are? [DR. AIMEE FOSTER]: Yeah, so, one thing to keep in mind is that, I mean, I’ll call it true anorexia, in the most severe of forms, is… it’s really common for that to actually go with obsessive compulsive disorder or commonly known, you know, OCD. [VERONICA]: Yes. I’m glad you said that. [DR. AIMEE FOSTER]: Yeah, there is this really kind of obsessive component to it. Which again, like you were saying, Veronica, makes it really hard to treat. And so, oftentimes the way that eating disorders kind of start is with the initial food restriction of unhealthy things, and then that can transpire into more food restriction, calorie counting, you know, trying to stay under a certain amount of calories, compensating with other behaviors like exercise, to reduce the overall calorie intake. And then the more restrictive it becomes, I mean, think about how food really is a nourishment for the brain and body. So, if you’re starving yourself, if you’re hungry, then your brain’s not firing appropriately either. So then that kind of leads to further obsession and lack of logical thinking, right? And then, of course, we run into high risk when the weight substantially drops. When somebody is underweight, that becomes the highest risk. So, we use the BMI chart still, even though it’s pretty outdated, we can use that as an indicator to know when somebody is underweight. And then that’s when the heart comes under pressure, when somebody is too thin for their brain and not continuing to nourish their body, then the heart conditions can be into a rise and actually the most common form of death for somebody with anorexia is a heart attack. So it can be a slow progression and also can be a quick progression, you know, some things that people do to monitor their hunger or to mitigate hunger, while restricting food, are things like drinking lots of water, chewing gum, even eating things like celery that have little to no caloric value, but may provide some relief from stomach pain at some point. So, people do a lot of things to try to alleviate the pain from hunger but also maintaining calorie restriction. And I think, you know, again, it can progress pretty quickly, or [unclear] progression over time, depending on the person. And if you think about it, you know, hunger is a biological drive, it’s something that we have… we eat to survive, you know. And so, somebody’s ability at that level to completely ignore or shut that off, that requires something different happening in the brain. And so, when we get to that point, it’s very unnatural. And that’s, again, another reason why it becomes difficult to treat and then obviously, it can be lethal. [VERONICA]: Absolutely. Absolutely. And does this go as well for bulimia and other eating disorders? Does the same rule apply? [DR. AIMEE FOSTER]: Bulimia, I like to call more of a silent killer, and I think, again, I don’t want to freak people out, but it is really dangerous as well. It’s not considered as lethal as anorexia, and oftentimes people who suffer from bulimia are not necessarily underweight. So, you don’t have you know, they don’t necessarily experience the same heart problems although they can, and so they’re not as high risk for heart attack. But one thing that bulimia does highly impact are different nutrients in the body, like for example, potassium – when the potassium levels get dangerously low it’s lethal, and it’s hard to see. You can’t see with the naked eye when somebody doesn’t have a healthy potassium balance. You know, but when somebody is purging, they’re ridding themselves of all these electrolytes, and then when those things get off whack, it can be really concerning. And I’ve seen people admitted to the emergency room who were walking, talking, looking perfectly fine, but because of their bulimia we’re lacking in certain enzymes that may put them in critical condition. So those are things to consider as well; again, not considered as lethal based on numbers, but still very, very dangerous. [VERONICA]: Absolutely. So, one question that I was asked by a mom in our Facebook group. So, ladies, we have a Facebook group and in that group, you know, I asked everybody to go ahead and give me some questions on what to ask Dr. Foster. And one of the moms had asked, you know, if a mom has had a history of an eating disorder, how do you teach prevent your daughter from having similar issues? With obesity in our country, I’m so worried this could happen to Rory because of my own food and body anxieties. We’re going to go into more, you know, the what to do next, but just, you know, how would you answer her question? [DR. AIMEE FOSTER]: Yeah, I think that’s a really common concern and also, again, like I was saying before, all of those… you know, body image issues are so pervasive. They’re so out there in our society and I think we have started the switch to more positivity, body positivity, we have more body positive movements. And that’s still an ongoing struggle. And I will say, you know, do we blame parents when a child develops an eating disorder? Absolutely not. But I will say that our children learn about their bodies based on how we express our thoughts and feelings about our bodies. [VERONICA]: Amen. [DR. AIMEE FOSTER]: There is a trickle-down effect, right? So, if I’m constantly saying, I’m overweight, I need to lose weight, I’m fat, you know, using that F word. Oh, I can’t eat that, that’ll make mommy fat. Or mommy needs to look good in her swimsuit, so she can’t, you know, you fill in the blank. All of those things that we say, that is going to have an impact on our children. Because they’re looking at us going, well, if that’s how my mom feels in her body, then that’s expected of me how I’m supposed to feel in my body, right? So we do need to monitor those things, like how we’re talking about ourselves is impacting our children, even though we may be saying to them, you’re beautiful, you’re perfect, there’s nothing wrong with you, you’re not fat – if I’m saying that, but then turning around and calling myself fat, that’s going to have an impact. It is important to keep that in mind when we’re talking to our children. Again, it matters how I speak about my own body and my own diet. I think that, at the end of the day, we can’t predict what’s around every corner; we can only do the best we can. And so, in addressing the question presented in the Facebook group, I think what’s most important is that at this point, you’re focusing on health and wellbeing in all of your conversations, right? So if you’re cooking dinner and you’re choosing to leave out a certain ingredient, it’s not because you don’t want it to make you fat or you want to manipulate the way that you look, it’s because this is not good for our bodies and this is why – we want to choose foods that energize us and keep us healthy and motivated and active, right? Or we’re going to go on a family bike ride, not because we need to lose weight but because we want to be active and healthy and this is good, and exercise is beneficial for the bones and muscles. And we want to make sure we have healthy hearts and all of those other things. So focusing on more of the benefits that these things give you and using that to illustrate the ‘why’, and model healthy eating as opposed to you know, we can’t have this or we can’t have that and all because if we have this or we have that, then we’re not going to let go. [VERONICA]: Yeah. And I think we fail to realize you know, especially as mom’s like, okay, we’re all gonna go for a walk, you know, and it’s like, oh crap, we have to go for a walk because mom needs to lose 10 pounds. Versus we’re all going to go on a walk, and this is fun, this is us connecting. We don’t take our phones. And yes, most of our kids complain about not having their phones in hand. But I know with my girls, they actually prefer us not to have our phones because that’s when they get most of our attention. And it’s us, you know, having these great conversations and, you know, funny and it’s just us being us versus, you know, there being some mission and the kids, whether we like to believe it or not, the kids know. Because of, again, what we’re doing behind the scenes, you know, how often are they walking into our rooms and watching us on the scale? How often are they walking into our closets, and here we go, mommy’s crying again, because she doesn’t fit into her clothes. I know, I’ve been there, you know, and I’m not gonna lie about that, I know, I’ve been there. You know, Willy wants to go on a date night and, you know, it’s like, ah damn. What am I gonna wear? You know what I mean? [DR. AIMEE FOSTER]: And how those things just have the absolute ability to ruin your day. I mean, I think that’s true for all of us. You know, like, I’m in the wrong headspace and I get on the scale and I don’t like what I see. It’s like, damn, my whole days gone. Everything’s spiraling, right? But I think what’s really important, and I just would like to say this to all the listeners out there, get rid of the clothes that don’t fit, girl. [VERONICA]: It’s not gonna happen. [DR. AIMEE FOSTER]: Don’t keep fighting with them, like just move to a place of acceptance and that changes [unclear] reward yourself and go buy something new. But just don’t [unclear] to that anymore. [VERONICA]: I love that you said that. I’m so glad you said that. Like, reward yourself, you get a whole set of new clothes. [DR. AIMEE FOSTER]: Yeah. [VERONICA]: You know, like, battling with those jeans, laying down, doing all the sucking it in and everything like that. It’s a battle we know we’re gonna lose. [DR. AIMEE FOSTER]: Yeah. It never feels good. Like, never, so just get rid of them, bag em up. They don’t feel good. They don’t fit. You don’t like how they feel. Get rid of them. [VERONICA]: Absolutely. Another thing that I’ve heard is, you know, parents, you know, they’re seeing their kids, especially right now, you know, we’re in this pandemic. And, you know, I’ve heard some of my clients say, okay, well, you know, I put a lock on the pantry, because I don’t want the kids eating all of the snacks, and this one over here eats every single Go-Gurt, or this one eats every single Perfect Bar, or whatever it is, you know, and so, all of a sudden, now we have all of these rules. And I want to go ahead and highlight that you said, it’s not our fault. However, it’s important for us to pay attention to what we’re doing. And so, if you’re locking your pantry, if you’re telling your kids you can only have one snack and you’ve already had five, and that’s it. You know, are we a part of a problem? Are we starting something unhealthy? [DR. AIMEE FOSTER]: Yeah. Well, you know, I think something that’s… that’s a good question, because it’s important to also recognize that kids will also emotionally eat, and especially if that has been modeled for them. And I think a lot of us are guilty of that, you know, you’re stuck at home, you’re bored. What else do you do but snack, right? [VERONICA]: Cruise the pantry, cruise the pantry. [DR. AIMEE FOSTER]: Or [unclear] watching Netflix and so you have a bag of chips next to you, or like, all of those things. And during this time, it’s really hard. And so, I think it’s important to remember that kids are also experiencing that. And it might be important to have some conversations about what other things that we can do instead of, again, with the focus not on weight, but on health, right, because binge eating is not healthy either. And so, not that we want to create all kinds of rules around food, but maybe we want to start talking to our kids about hunger cues. Like, how do I know when I’m hungry and how do I know when I’m full? Maybe this is a good lesson for all of us at home to start learning, now that we’re all freaking bored and just sitting here not doing anything. You know, what does it feel like in my body when I’m hungry versus when I’m full? And what are some other things that I can do to occupy my time when I’m bored as opposed to just snacking? And why do I not want to snack all day? What’s the purpose of that, right? Because I want to listen to my body and what my body needs at any given moment. And if I’m just snacking all day and not responding to my body, then I’m not taking good care of my health. [VERONICA]: Yes. [DR. AIMEE FOSTER]: So, you know, providing some of those lessons and again, I think are probably beneficial lessons for all of us right now to hear. Again, checking in with myself when I’m hungry versus when I’m full. And something that I kind of do, and I guess this is a good time to throw that out there. There’s a book out there, it’s called Intuitive Eating, that I would highly recommend because it really does highlight that, you know, how do we listen to our bodies? How do we give our bodies what we want? How do we know when we’re hungry and when we’re full? When to start, when to stop? All of those types of things and again, just kind of feeding our bodies what it’s asking for. Because there’s this idea that we have kind of a natural place where we’ll land if we just eat intuitively versus restricting or cutting out different things. And so, I think that can be really helpful and a really good lesson to start teaching families, especially during this time is how do we eat intuitively? Let’s check in, how hungry are you right now, like on a scale from zero to 10? Zero being like, I’m not hungry at all, I’m just bored and 10 being you know, I’m starving. I have these, you know, hunger pains in my stomach. How hungry are you? And let’s kind of monitor that before we just snack all day. And let’s do it together. And why? Because it’s good for us physically, right? [VERONICA]: Yes, yes. I think another thing that you hit on is, in so many ways, we’re communicating and teaching our children how to respect their bodies, versus like, totally, you know, taking advantage of them or like mistreating it. We’re teaching our children how to go ahead and respect and love our bodies. And, you know, one question I also want to ask that just kind of came up is, you know, you mentioned making sure that you, when you’re cooking, when you leave certain ingredients out, if your child asks why and communicating to them that, you know, this is what eating healthy looks like, right? What about moms who are eating the salad, and the kids who are eating the pizza, you know, and you hear, oh, mom can’t eat that. And I love that you said that, mom can’t eat that because she’s trying to lose weight. Like, what happens with that? Because I think in so many ways, it’s like, it serves as a form of punishment. It serves as, mom’s being punished because she didn’t know how to get her crap together and you know, she has to lose those 10 pounds, right? You know, what would you say to the moms that are, like only eating salads or only drinking protein shakes, and they’re eating completely different, like, a completely different meal than their families? [DR. AIMEE FOSTER]: That’s hard because I don’t think it’s what a lot of moms want to hear. Because… [VERONICA]: That’s why I’m asking. [DR. AIMEE FOSTER]: [Unclear] super hyper focused on, I have to get this way and, you know, so I think this might be an unpopular opinion, but I don’t think that’s benefiting your children. [VERONICA]: Yeah. [DR. AIMEE FOSTER]: When you’re modeling something completely different then they’re doing. I think, again, going back to intuitive eating, what’s most helpful is being able to say, I can have some, and I’ll be okay. Like I can have a piece of pizza, or it’s Friday night we’re having a family movie night and we’re all eating pizza. I can enjoy that with you guys. I can step outside of my comfort zone. I heard [unclear] say at one point, while her teenager was in eating disorder treatment, she said, if I have to eat a stick of butter a day, to make sure that you are healthy and survive, because you’re modeling me, if I have to gain weight to make sure you’re okay, I will do it every single day. And that really struck a chord with me, because, I mean, I think ultimately, obviously, we don’t want to get to that point, but what she was communicating there was, it ain’t about me anymore. Like, I’m gonna have to make some changes; I have modeled for so long that it’s okay to restrict your food intake, that diet is everything, that weight loss is what makes our world go round, that being thin is the ultimate goal. And, you know, kind of having this epiphany that that is not the goal, and that’s not what I want the goal to be for my daughter; and now we’re in this boat where she’s in eating disorder treatment and I have to model something different if I want her to get healthy. And again, if that means that I have to gain 50 pounds to make it so, I will gain 50 pounds. I’m not saying that… [VERONICA]: Bring the butter. Yeah. [DR. AIMEE FOSTER]: I’m not saying that that’s where we want to be. But ultimately, I mean, we have to think about it that way, you know, what are we modeling for our children? And are we modeling that… We can eat intuitively, we can have some and not all, we can have a cookie and not the whole box, we can have pizza night sometimes, we can… Is there balance in our lifestyle? That’s what we want to model. We don’t want to model those extremes. And so when you’re, again, only eating the salad, only eating the protein shake, not showing any variation or flexibility in your nutrition, that’s going to trickle down; the kids are going to pick up on that and again, internalize this belief system that, like you said, you have to punish yourself to meet your goals, and food restrictions and this are important, and whatever it takes you have to get there, and all of those other things that come with that. [VERONICA]: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. Well, we are going to take a pause right here. Here’s why. Because we are going to teach you, well I’m not going to teach you. Dr. Foster is going to… You know, I’ve called you Aimee because we’ve been homies forever, and so I’m like trying to get used to Dr. Foster. It’s gonna happen, it’s gonna happen. So, we’re going to take a pause. We’re going to take a pause right now because we’re going to take it even further. So, Dr. Foster has taught us, not only are we not to blame, we are also capable of picking up the signs, and we also understand the severity of an eating disorder and what to do, right? Well, not necessarily a hundred percent what to do, and that’s where we’re going to go next. In the next episode, we’re going to go ahead and learn how to talk to our children if they do have an eating disorder and the do’s and don’ts. Dr. Foster is also going to teach us what we can do now to go ahead and move forward, to get the help and treatment we need, or to go ahead and change up things in our household. So, totally excited. Can’t wait. That’ll be in the next episode. What’s up, ladies? Just want to let you guys know that your ratings and reviews for this podcast are greatly appreciated. If you love this podcast, please go to iTunes right now and rate and review. Thank you, guys. Many women lose their own identity in the shadow of being a mom and a wife. We are a community of women who support each other. We leave perfectionism behind to become empowered and unapologetic. I know you’re ready for the next steps. If you want to become empowered and unapologetic, get my free course, “Unapologetically Me,” over at empoweredandunapologetic.com/course. This podcast is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. This is given with the understanding that neither the host, Practice of the Practice, or the guests, are providing legal, mental health, or other professional information. If you need a professional, you should find one.