Is there a connection between post-divorce anxiety and experiencing an eating disorder? How can you change destructive self-soothing tendencies into healthier ones? Can understanding the past help you to have more compassionate control over your future? In this podcast episode, Dr. Cristina Castagnini speaks with relationship expert, Dr. Susan Orenstein about divorce being a trigger for disordered eating.


Dr. Susan Orenstein is a licensed psychologist and relationship expert with over twenty years of experience. In 2005, she founded Orenstein Solutions, a private counseling practice in North Carolina that serves children, teens, adults, and couples. Susan created the After the First Marriage Podcast to support individuals through the significant life transition of divorce. She whole-heartedly believes that “happily ever after” is an option for everyone, and is dedicated to helping divorcées regain the confidence to pursue a fulfilling future after the first marriage. She's been featured in the media with articles in the Washington Post, USA Today, The New York Times, and Real Simple Magazine. Visit her website and connect on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Listen to her podcast here.


  • Body image issues post-divorce
  • ED post-divorce
  • What can help you get through it?

Body image issues post-divorce

Dr. Orenstein in counseling with her clients asks them about how they are taking care of themselves, what their day-to-day eating and exercise habits are like in order to access whether or not their emotional disfunction is perhaps triggering bodily health and self-image issues. For some people going through a divorce, they struggle with body-image issues, self-confidence issues, and think that they need to change their bodies drastically in order to be ‘loveable’ or desirable again. This may lead to people becoming fixated on their eating and exercising habits in a way that is not beneficial for your body.
There is certainly a healthy range of looking at what you’re eating and your exercise, there is a sweet spot where that is selfcare, but then there’s a dangerous spot that becomes a preoccupation and turns into disordered eating and disordered exercising. (Dr. Susan Orenstein)
For some people who may have struggled with ED before their divorce, they may be triggered again, because fixating their eating habits gives them a sense of control during a difficult time.

ED post-divorce

  • It is a form of destructive self-soothing.
  • When people have some downtime after the separation, they may experience intrusive thoughts and then try to numb or distract themselves with food.
It must be mentioned that this is a normal response, albeit a strong response. The pain is valid although the pain does not validate the destruction. It is important to learn, with the help of a therapist or counselor, when food is comfort and when food is for nutrition. It is important to remove the judgment from the equation. Even though it may be difficult, try to give yourself compassion and patience while looking for other options to take care of yourself.

What can help you get through it?

  • Look for people who have made it to the other side, whether that is someone who has gone through a divorce, an eating disorder or both. Surrounding yourself with people who are where you are at now too is fine, but you can really be inspired by spending time with and talking to people who were where you are now and who reached the end and surpassed the struggle.
  • Spending time in therapy, listening to podcasts and learning will help you to learn more about where you are and what you can do to work through it.
  • Look for support, because as human beings we cannot do this alone, so deepen your relationships with your friends, family to help you through this difficult time. There is no shame in asking for or accepting help.
  • Use your first marriage as an autopsy on relationships and to learn how you can create a better, stronger relationship in the future. Understanding your past gives you control over your future.



I am a licensed Psychologist and Certified Eating Disorder Specialist. While I may have over 20 years of clinical experience, what I also have is the experience of having been a patient who had an eating disorder as well. One thing that I never had during all of my treatment was someone who could look me in the eye and honestly say to me "hey, I've been there. I understand". Going through treatment for an eating disorder is one of the hardest and scariest things to do. I remember being asked to do things that scared me. Things I now know ultimately helped me to get better. But, at the time, I had serious doubts and fears about it. If even one of my providers had been able to tell me "I know it's scary, but I had to go through that part too. Here's what will probably happen...." then perhaps I would not have gone in and out of treatment so many times. My own experience ultimately led me to specialize in treating eating disorders. I wanted to be the therapist I never had; the one who "got it". I will be giving you my perspective and information as an expert and clinician who has been treating patients for over 2 decades. But don't just take my word for it...keep listening to hear the truly informative insights and knowledge guest experts have to share. I am so happy you are here!


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