Mindy is an expert in eating disorders and a Functional Nutrition practitioner. She has herself suffered from eating disorders and navigated the difficult terrain of recovery.
“I was being told what to weigh, think and eat. Nobody was addressing what I was hungry for”
In this episode, Mindy talks about the intersection between eating disorders, behavior, physiology, respect and nutrition.
How can we connect dots with picky eating?
Disclaimer: The information in this Podcast is for educational purposes only. Vaishnavi Sarathy, Ph.D. is an educator, not a doctor, specifically not your child’s doctor. Please consult your physician before implementing any supplement or diet recommendations.
Hello and welcome to functional nutrition and learning for kids. My guest today is my colleague Mindy Gorman. Mindy prints. 24 years of nutritional counseling experience with a private practice as certified functional nutrition and lifestyle practitioner, board-certified integrative health coach, and certified eating psychology coach. she introduces a unique functional approach to simple and complex health issues relating to or resulting from disordered and addictive eating behaviors. Mindy is also the author of a book called The Freedom promise. And I’d like it would be great if Mindy could talk about that by the end of the show, but I just wanted to share Mindy’s philosophy in her practice. And I quote, Mindy says, My philosophy is to empathetically empower my clients to make nourishing lifestyle and nutritional choices as they learn to connect to the healthy wisdom of their bodies, allowing for sustainable and lasting recovery. Mindy, thank you so much for agreeing to be on this podcast. I am so thrilled that you’re finally here. I have so much to ask you. Welcome.
Thank you Vaish. I am thrilled to be here.
Yes. And I just wanted to share with our audience that Mindy works primarily with women that have disordered eating, and issues associated with that. So it might be a little bit surprising that she is on a path podcast for kids. But I believe that our journey through this podcast is about connecting dots, and about seeing patterns. And I don’t think these patterns are isolated to any population. So I mainly am fascinated with the way that you bring functional nutrition principles, functional medicine principles into a very vulnerable community. Can you share a little bit about how functional nutrition has a role to play? When do you work with women with eating disorders? Yes,
I’m very happy to it is something that I am passionate about. And it came to pass because of my own experience with recovery from too many years to count struggling with eating disorders. I was a chronic restrictor. I was a compulsive overeater binge eater, and I struggled with consistent purging.
And while I was seeking treatment, I was back in the 90s. Really, the only options that were available to me, were basically hospitalization. And that was not going to be an option for me at the time, I had two teenage daughters. And I can speak very much about how my behaviors impacted their attitude and behaviors with food.
So I sought out the conventional treatment options that were available to me, and I saw a doctor for weekly weigh-ins. And vitals checked my vitals, I saw a therapist twice weekly. And I was given a meal plan by a registered dietician. So I was basically being told what I needed to weigh what I needed to think, and what I needed to eat. And I should also mention that they gave me prescriptions for antidepressants and Xanax, this was not going to be sustainable for me. Because what I came to realize was that, while I was being told what to weigh, think and eat, nobody was really addressing what I was hungry for.
That was a connection to my true self, you know, what I refer to now as my sacred space of solitude, a place that I can always return to. And, you know, my story is rooted in history, of course, and, and I know, we don’t have really time to go into that I detail it in my book if anybody’s interested. But basically, I came to struggle the way I did, because of messages that I had, and how I interpreted those messages, not that anybody set out to harm me, but it was the way I interpreted those messages that were my biology and my psychology. So through the years, and after a series of life-changing events, where I should have been growing and developing beautifully and becoming an empowered n evolved woman,
I really discovered that I was giving up everything to the scale and the size of my thighs. And I knew there had to be a better way. So I embarked on learning everything I could about nutrition. And it wasn’t so much about the calories and the carbs and the protein and the fat. It was about learning what my body was going to do with the food that I was eating, and that set me on a path of knowledge and learning. And through that path. I developed this wisdom
What I discovered was that unless we can figure out who we are as eaters, in other words, how we eat, why we eat, when we, and most importantly, what our bodies are doing with what we’re eating, we’re never going to stop fearing what the food will do to us. But we can start embracing what it can do for us.
Well, that’s very powerful. Chairman Lee, thank you. Um, one thing that keeps coming to mind is that as you work with your clients this is very empowering. But when you talk about functional nutrition has ever been seen as restricted, because a lot of times the conventional, or the things that come to mind as I do, I have to be gluten and dairy-free, and then we’re adding. And that’s not at all what you’re saying. But that is that’s what comes to mind. And often that may even be required, depending on the level of inflammation in a person. So how do you deal with conceptions of these? Okay, well,
I know I got off tangent a little bit with my story, but, this is where I’ve ended up helping to empower women to listen to the wisdom of their body by teaching them. Number one, as I said before, their issues are rooted in their story, genetics, biology, and in their gut, which is extremely empowering. And it changes the conversation from thinking, the way a functional practitioner would address a therapeutic diet from a scope of elimination to making it all about therapeutic, and abundance. Hmm. Right? If we’re looking at somebody who’s restricting, I like to I’m very metaphoric in my thinking and how I deal with my clients. But somebody who’s restricting is really very contracted. Right? And there, they’re not open to receive not only the abundance of the food before them but the gifts of the universe. So we talk a lot about receiving an abundance. And it starts with gratitude.
Right, somebody who’s struggling with binge eating disorder, or even bingeing and purging, which is Billy Mia.
They’re basically acting out with food and an effort to check out. You know, it’s, it’s all about
not being comfortable feeling feelings that they deem intolerable. So that’s another conversation. But to that client, that client has primarily been trying to fix herself. by reaching for every diet that’s out there, you know, she is a true victim to the diet culture. So we take that away, it becomes about what can you let go of, I like to say that true transformation is less about what we do to change, and more about what we let go of in an effort to be the change well, so so if you’re restricting, and fearing what food will do to you, or if you are overeating, bingeing, in an effort to check out from feelings that you deem intolerable.
We need to help you understand what’s happening in your body. And by introducing the functional paradigm, and this is where we wanted to go by introducing that functional paradigm that the root cause is in your body, and it’s not all in your head, you stop thinking that you’re broken, you stop thinking that you need to be fixed, and you become a partner in your own healing. Because we all know dieting is demoralizing, being told to eat this not that is demoralizing for the anorexic woman who has been in treatment, and is told that it’s all about her refeeding and her weight restoration. And if she doesn’t eat this,
she’s going to have to lose a privilege or drink a can of the traditional supplement. That’s demoralizing. Wow. Yeah. And then take that, let’s take that a step further. This is where the functional piece really comes in. And this is the part that really excites me about offering this to my clients.
People that have been struggling with eating disorders for years, are without question going to be struggling with some sort of gut dysfunction, right? There’s going to be small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, there’s going to be a dysfunction of hunger and satiety hormones, there’s going to be blood sugar dysregulation, which is going to affect the way they feel and they think,
If we can address those issues, and they start to feel better, you
They’re more receptive to how they need to heal psychologically. The other thing I teach is that all of this gut dysfunction is clearly impacting their psychological functioning, right? Because we know that gut-brain connection is so strong, but that sends more messages to the brain than the brain sends to the gut. Yes, right.
Then we have the all foods fit, conventional protocols that most of these patients have been forced to endure. And here, they weren’t reporting that they weren’t feeling well, after eating, let’s just say a bagel with cream cheese, right? Or a plate of lasagna?
What’s gonna happen and conventional treatment is that going to be sent to for an additional visit with a therapist, to discuss their fear of food and why they’re feeling anxious about food, whereas a functional approach is going to look at what their bodies are doing with that food.
So can you see how the conversation shifts, and how the conversation can become one of empowerment?
Absolutely, you could actually take I’ve been writing down three things that you’ve been talking about, you’ve been talking about a lot of stuff, but they fall under the categories of you know, guttering, connection, digestion, inflammation, right. And primarily dealing with these situations with respect and compassion. And when you take these three or more, whether you call them root causes are what they call them, your, the principles that you follow. And then at this point, it doesn’t matter what it is that you are treating, because if you approach if you bring the gut-brain connection to the table and you bring respect to the table, then that is the same thing that you would be doing with a child that is a picky eater, right? So and you were talking about them and being asked, you know, this is how much you should weigh. And if you don’t do this, you’re losing, you’re going to perhaps lose privileges or have to drink this. And that is that so forcibly brings to me the image of, you know, excessively picky eaters that are in the same situation where we’re not really looking at root causes or dealing with the situation with respect.
So again, with a picky eater, it’s very important to disk explore and discover possible root causes, right? So we’re going to rule out, of course, got this function, we’re going to rule out hormone dysfunction and irregularities. Okay. But what about the attitudes and emotions that the child is feeling?
That has to be paramount. Right, a child needs to know that they’ve heard, they’re seen, and they’re felt, and that they’re listened to. Otherwise, we’re sending the message that you’re not capable of knowing what to feel. You know, in my book, I talk about the woman that the child that becomes the woman who has to clean everything on her plate, because she got the message that you know, mom slept all day over a hot stove, where they were my generation there were children starving in China.
What’s your teaching with that message? Is that you, the child is not capable of understanding when you’re full when you’ve had enough? Yes. So how does one grow up to trust their relationship with food, trust their hunger, and ultimately trust their bodies, and then trust their lives? You know, our relationship with food mirrors our relationship with life?
That’s a very wise thing that you just said. Absolutely. I agree.
One of the things that I’ve been meaning to talk to you about today is is the polar opposites. If they are polar, they don’t have to be but in attitudes of conventional treatments, and so-called functional treatments, and how sometimes both can be very off. So conventional treatments are often purely behavioral, at least that’s been my experience is that the only thing we’re addressing is behavior.
I mean, they’ll be sent for behavioral intervention, ABA, which I mean, I think it’s it’s completely I feel like it’s the worst thing to do in this particular situation. Anyway, but that’s another that’s topic for another day. But on the functional realm, you will, and this isn’t truly functional, but these are people claiming to be functional, at least you will see people saying that, you know, just if the child is in eating anti-inflammatory foods, and I just did an airport, just started the child and eventually the child will drink bone broth, right. So talk about that.
How about these smaller approaches and how I mean, I feel like this is why somebody like you is so sorely needed.
Because there’s a complete misconception of what we do because of the, you know, of the extremities and Lord, I would say,
yeah, it touches my heart The thought of this is because there’s one missing element here, the child, whereas the child, and less, yes.
you know, we talk about exposure therapy, you know, as far as behavior modification, but exposure therapy while it, it works in a lot of cases, it can include the child. Right now, I’m not talking about ARFID. Now, and I’m sure we’ll touch on that. Let’s talk about the picky eater, the extremely picky eater who decides that she doesn’t want to eat any yellow foods or green foods, right?
How about taking that child to the store with you, involving them in meal planning, and involving this beautiful child in food preparation? experiment with different textures, because you don’t need to have a sensory disorder to be set as a child to be sensitive to textures. Right, explore, try a smoothie, try dicing, try chunks, try crunchy and keep rotating foods and be patient. And then most importantly, as the parent, what kind of behavior are you modeling? Hmm, what are you talking about with respect to food, diet, and your body?
Unfortunately, children today at a very young age, are exposed to all kinds of messages regarding body image and fat-shaming, you know, they’re still being weighed in school. They’re still having letters sent home. Talking about their weight, they’re still being measured and tested by a BMI, which is totally irrelevant.
And I think it starts in my son’s doing an online public school now. And even there, it starts in seventh grade, the conversation about BMI, what’s considered Okay, what’s not.
BMI is a mathematical equation. It doesn’t take into account one’s muscles. How much water your body is holding on to? It’s basically height times weight. Yeah, it makes no sense. You can have two people that weigh the same amount one is Titan’s muscle and the other has an abundance of unhealthy fat. Yes. It’s, it’s, again, I keep using that word demoralizing, but I think the whole topic is doing a lot of harm to our children
who are really understanding food as food? So it’s not just weighted issues that are, you know, that are misrepresented. But the food itself, right? I mean, this whole acceptance of everything is food. Everything isn’t really food. Only What is your body is food. Only what your body can digest is food. So, yes, right.
And one man’s food is another man’s poison. Yes. Yes. And that’s the other issue. You know, the healthiest food on earth for some could be totally inflammatory for another. Yep. And that’s why it’s very important to look at who we are as eaters.
We forgot to talk about our fun and so Yes. Can you tell us something about our food before we wrap up?
Yeah, absolutely. Okay, so ARFID and picky eating have certain similarities. Of course, our food stands for avoidant restrictive food intake disorder.
is it more pathological?
They’re not sure. But how it’s differentiated is by the level of physical and mental distress that eating causes. Okay, so someone but someone with an orphan may have difficulty chewing, and swallowing, which is going to cause trauma, right? They’re afraid of vomiting. They’re afraid of gagging or choking in response to something and that gives them high levels of anxiety. Right? So anxiety can cause them to avoid eating in any social situation, such as school or a birthday party.
Right ARFID shows up differently, or Fitch shows up as it could be lack of interest in eating at all general lack of interest in eating and food and they get full very quickly. Another would be sensory avoidance. Like we’ve talked about clients with
sensory avoidance of issues with taste and texture, temperature, and even smells.
And then of course, like I’d said, the fear of consequences. vomiting, choking, and gagging. So while they might set out being similar, especially to a parent that has what they’re calling a picky eater, our fit is really more disordered eating behavior and needs to be addressed with the proper support.
Yes, and this is the proper support could be sensory therapy, it could be oral motor issues, it could be sensory integration. And it would probably always involve working with somebody that’s also conversant with a functional nutrition or medicine approach. But it could be, it’s probably beyond that includes some behavioral support as well.
Yeah, I think if you fear that your child is suffering with arfid, I would Yes, I would definitely go the functional medicine route to rule out physiological issues, and anything, you know, food sensitivities, but I would also suggest engaging the help of somebody who was well versed in eating disorders.
Because our food can morph into anorexia, you see it and the difference is okay, you might think that somebody who’s avoiding food is anorexic is a big difference. Somebody struggling with arfid has a fear of food, fear of food, a, an aversion like we said to could be temperature smell, texture, but a person is struggling with anorexia has a fear of food with regard to what it may do to them, make me fat, right?
Well, and, this brings us this to one particular thing that I’ve obviously liked sharing is that whenever a child is facing a complex, whether it’s an eating disorder or not, it could be any sort of issue that’s interfering with normal function, it’s often the case that you will need a team. So if you are working with a functional nutrition practitioner or a functional medicine doctor, and that’s, and you feel that something is missing, it probably is because something is missing, you probably need somebody who’s working with sensory issues, maybe an occupational therapist, maybe maybe I’m not a fan of behavioral therapists, but maybe a behavioral therapist, maybe other people that are supporting your child, maybe a movement therapist, there’s so much more that can be done and often, fortunately, or unfortunately needs a team of people working in parallel, to really affect change.
Any advice? Just one thing about the behavioral therapist? You know, in a perfect world, we would have a behavioral therapist that is well versed in physiology, that’s driving behaviors. Yes. Yes.
All behavior in my mind is communication. So when you would think of behavior as a separate thing, that is very jarring To my mind, which is why I have issues with the field.
Thank you, Mindy. Thank you so much. We I learned a lot I’m sure the audience did too. Is that where can people reach you? And is there anything else would like to share?
Oh, well, they can reach me, my email is Mindy, firstname.lastname@example.org the freedom promise.com I book, The Freedom promise seven steps to stop fearing what food will do to you and start embracing what it can do for you is available on Amazon and iBooks. And I’d love to hear from your audience and offer any kind of support that I can.
Yes, yes. It’s been great talking to you. I always enjoy listening to your wisdom in this context. Thank you so much for being here. Thank you for listening to functional nutrition and learning for kids. I’m your host, Dr. Vaish Today’s music was composed and performed by Maitri Gosh, my daughter. I would love to hear your feedback on facebook.com/functionalnutritionforkids. And if you did like this episode, please drop a review at iTunes or Spotify or wherever you listen to podcasts. See you next Thursday. Bye.