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The Overlooked Mid-life Crises: Eating Disorders

April 6, 2021 @ 11:30 am - 1:00 pm


In 1980, the DSM-III debuted Eating Disorders under the rubric of disorders of infancy, childhood, or adolescence.  During that time, eating disorders were defined a disease experienced by white, middle to upper class young females.  Our understanding of these illnesses continues to expand and evolve. We now know that eating disorders are equal opportunity offenders which affect people of all genders, ages, races, ethnicities, body shapes and weights, sexual orientations, and socioeconomic statuses.

One group of eating disorder sufferers that is often overlooked is the middle age population.  Those who experience eating disorders in mid-life typically fall into three categories:

  1. Those who developed eating disorders earlier in life, and it has reemerged in mid-life;
  2. Those whose eating disorder is experienced as a chronic condition and;
  3. Those who develop an eating disorder later in life.

There are many factors that contribute to the development of eating disorders in mid-life including (but not limited to):

  1. The physiological and psychological changes that happen during the aging process.
  2. The backdrop of America’s youth-oriented culture, which embraces the ideas that aging, excess weight, and sagging bodies must be fought at any cost.
  3. Changes in life including children leaving home (or moving back in) as well as parents, family and friends experiencing health issues and death.

Recovery in middle age is possible.   Middle age sufferers can reclaim their lives, can find their true selves and can learn to accept their imperfections.  Maturity can actually bring substantial advantages to fighting eating disorders as older patients have more life experiences and insights to draw on. In addition, they are more knowledgeable and aware of the physical and psychological costs of maintaining their eating/exercise habits.


After the presentation, the participants will be able to:

  1. Identify the research and statistics regarding the prevalence and incidence of eating disorders in the middle age population.
  2. Describe the factors that contribute to the development of eating disorders in the middle age population.
  3. Identify risks and the devastating effects of eating disorders in the middle age population.
  4. Identify appropriate help and treatment for this unique population.

Speaker Bios:

Caryn Honig EdD MEd RD LD

Dr.  Caryn Honig is a Registered and Licensed Dietitian and owns Dr. Caryn Honig Nutrition (formerly The Healthy Weigh), a private practice offering nutritional counseling to those who struggle with eating disorders and disordered eating.  She has been an adjunct professor at University of Houston for the past 16 years.  She chose to specialize in eating disorders because of her past struggles with anorexia, bulimia, compulsive over-exercise and other addictions.  She has been in recovery for over 25 years.

Growing up, Caryn was a state and nationally ranked junior tennis player. She was a collegiate All-American tennis player and was University of Denver Female Athlete of the Year in 1987 as well as an inductee into the University of Denver Hall of Fame. Caryn is an avid hiker, runner and triathlete.  To date she has completed 45 full marathons, numerous triathlons, one full Ironman triathlon and one 50-mile endurance running race.  She has two strong-willed, grown daughters:  one who is a social worker and one who is in nursing school.

Betsy Brenner

Betsy Brenner is a high school tennis coach, bereavement group facilitator and a retired hospital attorney. For many years, she worked as a hospice volunteer and speaker on grief and loss.

More recently, Betsy has been an eating disorder recovery speaker, peer support mentor, and support group co-leader.  Her recovery story has been shared widely on many eating disorders blogs and websites.  Betsy is excited about the May 2021 release of her memoir “The Longest Match: Rallying to Defeat an Eating Disorder in Mid-Life.”

Betsy was a nationally ranked junior player, played division one college tennis, and still plays competitively.

Betsy received her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Brown University in 1985 and her Juris Doctorate from American University Law School in 1990. She was a hospital attorney for over a decade before leaving the practice of law to focus on raising her children and meaningful volunteer activities. Originally from Rochester, New York, she and her husband Jeff have resided in Barrington, Rhode Island for 30 years and are the proud parents of three grown children.

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April 6, 2021
11:30 am - 1:00 pm
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