Can I Have Another Snack?
Can I Have Another Snack?
11: Nourishing Recovery with Whitney Trotter

11: Nourishing Recovery with Whitney Trotter

CIHAS Season 2 is here!

HEYO. And welcome back to the Can I Have Another Snack? podcast! We took a break back in November after wrapping up Season 1 of the pod with Katie Greenall talking all things Embodiment, so check out that episode if you haven’t already.

Can I Have Another Snack? is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.

We’re kicking off Season 2 with Whitney Trotter - Registered Dietitian and nurse, Anti-racism Educator/Consultant and Human Trafficking Activist. Whitney is also mother to a 6 year old who is a selective eater. In this ‘sode, Whitney and I talk about her daughter’s eating and what this brings up for her as a dietitian and eating disorder professional. Whitney goes on to talk about her work supporting parents with eating disorders who are really struggling in their relationship with food and their body, looking closely at the underlying anxieties that come up around eating and what they can teach us. We talk about what feeding children can bring up for parents who have eating disorders or disordered eating and how that experience can be so triggering.And Whitney talks about how going to the drive thru is 1) not something you should feel bad about and 2) something that can actually bring more connection when you’re feeding a family.

Find out more about Whitney here.

Follow her work on Instagram here.

Follow Laura on Instagram here.

Here’s the transcript in full:

Whitney: You know, I always think anxiety can teach us so much, right? Like, we typically treat anxiety as all bad, but I think it's a root of a lot of things. And so really leaning into, okay, what is the anxiety telling us? You know, are we, is there a fear? Right? So for sometimes, it's the meal that we're cooking. The parent or mom really wants their kid to have variety, but they're so worried about how this particular food is gonna show up for them. There's a lot of myths. There's a lot of lies that their eating disorder has told them about certain foods. And so really processing through that, processing okay, what feels safe to eat? What feels safe to share like community wise with our family. Things like that. And maybe even delegating, you know, what is their partner doing? Can the partner help with the meal times and the plating and the cooking, things like that, will that dial down some of that anxiety?


Laura: Hey, and welcome to Season Two of Can I Have Another Snack podcast where I'm asking my guests who or what they're nourishing right now and who or what is nourishing them? I'm Laura Thomas, an anti diet registered nutritionist and author of the Can I Have Another Snack newsletter. Today I'm talking to Whitney Trotter.

Whitney is a registered dietician and nurse, anti-racism consultant and human trafficking activist based in Memphis, Tennessee. And as we'll learn, she's also the parent of a six-year-old who is a selective eater. So Whitney and I talk about her daughter's eating, and what this brings up for her as a dietician and an eating disorder professional. It touches on anxiety, fear, and feelings of failure, especially if you've made your whole career about nourishing people.

Whitney goes on to talk about her work supporting parents with eating disorders who are really struggling in the relationship with food and their body, looking closely at the underlying anxieties that come up around eating and what they can teach us. We talk about what feeding children can bring up for parents who have eating disorders or disordered eating, and how that experience can be really triggering.

We also talk about renourishing our inner child through eating nostalgic kid foods, and I talk a little bit about that article that I published last week on clean eating orthorexia and kids, which I've linked to in the show notes and the transcript, if you haven't already seen that. And we also talk about how mumfluencer culture and diet culture collide to make it seem like feeding kids is about an aesthetic as opposed to being based on something that's achievable or realistic or practical or even functional.

And then Whitney talks, uh, about how going to the drive-through is one, not something that you should feel bad about. And two, something that can actually bring more connection when you're feeding a family. Lots of really cool stuff. We kind of go all over the place, but in a good way. And I really enjoy talking to Whitney, she's someone I've wanted to have on the podcast for a long time, so I'm glad that we finally made it work. 

I just want to give a content warning. We talk about body image in the context of sexual assault and miscarriage. Not in any detail, but I just wanted to mention that it's there. We also talk about eating disorders and our experiences of having babies in the NICU and breastfeeding challenges. So if those are things that you don't need to hear right now, then please skip ahead. There will be another episode out next week. 

And before we get to today's episode, I just want to share that I am gonna be running my Raising Embodied Eaters workshop again in February. A lot of you have been asking about this. I kind of took a break from running workshops as I was getting my Substack up and going. Um, but now I'm able to kind of offer, I don't know how often I'm gonna do it, but we're gonna have one in February. It will be a 90 minute workshop completely online, and you'll be sent a copy of the recording afterwards to watch back.

So you know, if bedtime goes way later than you're expecting, then um, yeah, you'll be able to catch up with it another time. We'll be talking about how kids' embodiment gets disrupted by diet culture, and what this has to do with feeding and how it can affect the feeding relationship. We'll discuss why we need to throw the rule book out the window and let them have ice cream before broccoli, and we'll talk about how we can build trust in our kids to get what they need.

I'll offer a framework that can help you feel more relaxed about mealtimes whilst also encouraging kids to have autonomy. We'll talk about how providing supportive structure can encourage children to remain in touch with their internal cues for hunger satisfaction and pleasure and fullness. And I'll cover how fussy eating develops and talk about some developmental milestones with eating as well as tools to help move through it. We'll also talk about why cutting out sugar and saying things like just another bite can undermine kids' instincts around food. And we'll talk about how we can talk about food and bodies without causing harm. So you'll be asked to fill out a short questionnaire about your specific situation ahead of time, and I'll try and tailor the content to the audience as much as possible.

You'll also get a copy of my Raising Embodied Eaters download. The workshop is suitable for grownups of kids of all ages, but I would say it's probably best for kids under 12. Parents, whatever that means to you and your family, grandparents, teachers, nutrition professionals, and anyone else working with kids are all welcome.

It will be on Tuesday, the 21st of February, which aptly is pancake day, and it will be at seven o'clock and it's 15 pounds to join and it will be over Zoom. The full details and the booking information is in the show notes and the transcript for this episode. For those of you who are subscribed to the newsletter, you'll get a reminder and a link in an upcoming newsletter as well.

And one more thing just before we get to Whitney, just a reminder that Can I Have Another Snack is a reader supportive publication. I'd love to bring you more deeply research pieces like my piece on clean eating and kids, but it requires a significant investment in my time, plus the support of an editor. So, if you are in a position to become a paid subscriber, then please consider it. It's five pounds a month or 50 pounds for the year. And if that's not accessible for you right now, you can email, putting the word snacks in the subject line and we will hook you up with a comp subscription, no questions asked. Alright, team, here is my conversation with Whitney Trotter.


Laura: All right, Whitney, I'd love it if you could share with the audience who or what you are nourishing right now.

Whitney: Oh my goodness. Okay. Well I am a mom of a feisty six year old, little girl who I just adore. So, we were kind of talking before the thing about some other dieticians that work in pediatrics and feeding and things like that. So I'm exploring the land of working with the selective eater. So our, yeah, so it's really fun.

Like our, nourishing times are a bit chaotic right now and so doing that. I'm also, uh, an avid coffee lover, so I have been trying different just flavours of coffee, different roasters and a non beverage food thing that I've been kind of nourishing my soul with lately is I've been listening to the audiobook of Hood Feminism.

I love, love it. So.

Headshot of today's guest, Whitney Trotter, standing against a white brick wall wearing a blue outfit and smiling
Today’s guest, Whitney Trotter

Laura: Yeah, lots of different things. Tell us about your selective eater a little bit more.

Whitney: Oh my goodness, so I think any, any mom, but particularly like dietician, nurse, mom, it's, it's so hard to like really kind of step back from our traditional schooling. So she legitimately has like six foods that she'll eat. Um, Mac and cheese, chicken nuggets, bacon, pancakes, strawberries, peanut butter and jelly. And that is it. So we've been really working with, you know, the autonomy piece, but also like, you know, there's also that just like natural worry of parents of it's like, okay, is my kid getting enough? Like, so many times in like our kind of traditional setting, it's like variety, variety, variety. And so really working on trying to let her be autonomous in the variety.

So we've been giving her like, you know, three options to choose from and then she gets to choose out of those, like three to four options, what she's willing to try.

Laura: Yeah, it's so, it's so interesting hearing from a parent who is, is, you know, has, I don't wanna say legitimately selective eater, because that makes it seem like other forms are illegitimate. But I suppose what I was thinking about there is how from social media, we get a really distorted picture of what kids should eat.

And we see them eating like kale and I don't know, mushrooms and all of these, these foods that are really challenging for little kids. And so then when they go through that like normal or like typical food neophobic stage as toddlers and preschoolers and even into like school age, that parents have this sense that they're this, that they're developing feeding differences.

And it's not until you hear of a child who is literally only eating six foods that you realize, wow, okay, actually my kid does have a reasonable variety and balance of food. So how are you, are you like, are you getting professional support with that? Like, and, and also like what does that bring up for you as a dietician, as a nurse?

Whitney: Well at first you're like did I fail my kid? What am I doing wrong? I mean, you know, cause I work in and I see, I work in the land of eating disorder, so I treat a lot of children and adolescents and adults with disordered eating and eating disorders. So it is interesting. We do a lot of food neutrality, like we do not moralise food. Food is food. So, and she's, she's a spicy six year old, so she's very quick to, you know, to say the same thing that, that I'm teaching her back to me, which is always funny. So she's on the growth chart, like she's growing and so right now we're just kind of, you know, living in the land of offering the choices and not forcing, and then just making sure she's getting enough of the foods that she will eat throughout the day.

So the biggest thing is I just wanna make sure she was growing and nourishing. And she is, and our pediatrician is wonderful.

She's also Venezuelan, and so I think it's just a, another just added benefit of she's seen kids in from so many different other cultures and countries. And so she was like, you know what? I'm not worried. I don't want you to be worried. I'm like, okay.

Laura: Yeah. Yeah. And I like, I suppose it is really reassuring to hear from another healthcare professional like it, you know, everything looks good here. But I can also imagine like, as, as a nutritionist being like, holy shit, my kid is only six. Like, it is, it's so, even though I work with that population, like I know it's like really anxiety provoking when, you know, like kind of in the way that doctors make the worst patients like...

Whitney: Yes, it's so true, so true. Cuz I mean, you really do, you're like, okay, what do I do? Like, you know, especially again cuz working in the eating disorders, you know what the outcome could be if you say certain things, if you press too hard. You know what I'm saying? So we're very cognizant of that. But we also just, we are, we really do tend to like, let her choose a lot of things. Like we really are those type of parents that like work with her in bodily autonomy and even when it comes to food, you know, so, it, I would be lying if I said it wasn't challenging, cuz it definitely is challenging. So we're kind of just staying the course right now.

Laura: Well, and this is a, this is a, a different thing, but I have a two and a half year old and I've, I've spoken about this, loads on the podcast, but he was in the NICU for like two, only like two weeks, which, actually, I say only two weeks now, but at the time it felt like an eternity. And we had a really, really difficult time getting feeding established, breastfeeding established, and yeah.

And, and there was something that felt so like, It, it just like really shook the core of my identity as a nutritionist to not be able to feed my child.

Whitney: Yes,

Laura: There is something that, that like just touched on, something like really deep, like I've made my entire career about nourishing people, yet I can't nourish my own child and that, I don't know if, if that resonates with you at all in your experience of feeding your daughter. 

Whitney: This is so wild that you're saying this, and thank you for sharing that. We had the exact same thing. She was in NICU and they gave her a, they gave her the wrong nipple. They, for the bottle, it was like a fast,

Laura: A fast flow. Yes. That happened to us too.

Whitney: Yeah. So then when she went to latch, I couldn't, she, she couldn't latch.

And so similar, you go through this period, like you feel like a failure, you know, like you feel like, like you just said, it's like I, I've spent my whole career trying to help others nourish their body and like, I can't even feed my own child. And so she ended up with a really bad gag reflex, like, just really, really bad when she was younger. We would have to like prop her up to sleep. She was on medication. So I mean, it's been, yeah, even now she will kind of sometimes struggle with that, but yeah, that resonates so deeply. And just the trauma of your baby being in NICU, I mean, so, it's so traumatic for you, you know, as a parent. And so, yeah, definitely. It's so interesting. We have similar, uh, similar stories regarding that.

Laura: Well, and then I think this is the, the thing that I've kind of discovered, like through having conversations on this podcast is that it it, because it, it happens to so many of us but we're just kind of expected to power on and keep going and, and not, and you know, just like dust it under, under the rug. And yeah, I think there, I'm thinking particularly of a conversation that I had with Christy Harrison. You know, again, sort of her story parallels a lot of my experience as well. And yeah, just how healing and cathartic it is to be able to, to share this more openly. Yeah, because it's, like I said, I think a lot of it, we, we, a lot of us experience, you know, similar things. I'm also really, you know, you've, you've mentioned a couple of times that you work in the eating disorder field and another theme that we touch on a lot in the, on the podcast is, you know, healing our own relationship with food as a parent and sort of supporting our children to have a positive or a healthy, or, you know, like however you wanna frame it, like a, a good relationship with food and bodies.

And I'm, I'm really curious to hear more about your experience of working with parents who have either disordered eating or eating disorders and, and yeah, how you hold them and support them in your work.

Whitney: Yeah, it's so interesting because I, I'm thinking of a particular session I had last week with a mom and we were really talking about how, you know, her daughter for the first time noticed that she ate dinner and you know, one of the things I told her, I said, your daughter is never gonna thank you for your restriction, but she is gonna remember the memories that you cultivate with her, particularly around meal times. And you know, I think that was really hard for her to hear and we kind of just sat with that and really explored, you know, what is it like for you to be able to sit at the dinner table with your kids and not every night like I know that's not realistic and you know, but two or three nights a week and engage in conversation.

Cuz usually as parents and it's hard, right? Like different seasons of life, sometimes dinnertime is the only time you have to like sit and talk with them. There's after school activities, you know, parents are usually working, somebody's cooking, somebody's cleaning, and then you're exhausted. And so sometimes that like 30, 45 minutes is like the only time the family is together.

And I think the eating disorder, you know, really can come in and monopolize that time as well. And it makes it very hard for somebody who is struggling, you know, with nourishment of their body, with body image to be able to sit and really holistically be present and be in the moment. So we definitely talk a lot about that.

You know, I think too, you know, kind of speaking more generally with moms, we're, we're used to having to do so much, right? Like some of us are working in home, some of us are working outside of the home. Still taking a lot of the responsibility of maybe driving or navigating, dropping kids off to school or daycare, cooking, like I said, cooking, cleaning, there's so much on us that I think also by the time we finally sit down to eat, we're just so exhausted.

Laura: Mm-hmm. If, if you have an eating disorder, even just disordered eating, when you're that exhausted, it's those eating disorder thoughts or those, you know, thoughts about weight and body size becomes so much more pronounced,

Whitney: Yes,

Laura: and that further takes you away from being connected and being present with your family. And I'm, I'm wondering what you offer your clients who are, yeah, really just struggling even to get through a mealtime with their family.


Whitney: Yeah. So usually what we'll do is we'll do meal exposures together or we'll do like a snack, something to where there's not as much pressure of eyes kind of on them, so to speak. You know, so, maybe we'll try breakfast or lunch, we'll do some kind of exposures together, really dialing into what is the anxiety.

You know, I think anxiety can teach us so much, right? Like, we typically treat anxiety as all bad, but I think it's, it's a root of a lot of things. And so really leaning into, okay, what is the anxiety telling us? You know, are we, is there a fear? Right? Sometimes, it's the meal that we're cooking. The parent or mom really wants their kid to have variety, but they're so worried about how this particular food is gonna show up for them. There's a lot of myths. There's a lot of lies that their eating disorder has told them about certain foods. And so really processing through that, processing okay, what feels safe to eat? What feels safe to share like community wise with our family. Things like that. And maybe even delegating, you know, what is their partner doing? Can the partner help with the meal times and the plating and the cooking, things like that, will that dial down some of that anxiety?

So kind of really processing through all of that and trying to figure out, and also too, you know, I think a lot of us tend to treat the eating disorder from an abstinence-based approach, and that's not necessarily my philosophy. And so always trying to figure out, okay, what is the root of this? You know, what is the eating disorder giving us, you know, what is it telling us?

What is it, what is it helping you navigate through? You know? And then are there alternative coping things that we can use?

Laura: Yeah. So I think what you're, you're naming there is how oftentimes eating disorders manifest as a sort of byproduct of trauma oftentimes, and how, I mean, a, a major part of the reason that they develop is because they felt safe, like safety, they kept us safe in one way, shape or another. And so it's, it's almost kind of understanding, okay, the ways that, that this was helpful and protective at least initially, but how perhaps, you know now that the, the immediate danger has subsided, clinging onto an eating disorder is actually more harmful and destructive.

Whitney: Yes.

Laura: So what are the other ways of coping, of managing that are not destructive, that are helpful and, yeah, that allow us to have a, a, a quality of life that you know, an eating disorder just does not afford anyone. Is that fair? Is that-

Whitney: Yeah, absolutely.

Laura: -a decent summary?

Whitney: Beautifully said 

Laura: And I hear from a lot of parents maybe kind of early on in terms of feeding their kids. So when it comes up to the point that they're introducing solids and like in the UK we call that weening. I know that's a different thing in the US, but at the point that they're introducing solids and how that can for people with an eating disorder can be really a really triggering phase of parenting. And I'm curious to hear if you've come across this with any of your clients or had conversations with folks about this and what your thoughts are.

Whitney: It can be so triggering. It can be triggering, you know, there's so much of the body that can be triggering that we don't talk about, right? So if you are pregnant and you lose your baby, you will still lactate. You know, you will, your, your milk will still come in which can be so triggering. Um, I also have a lot of expertise and experience working with sexual assault victims, and so definitely wanna do a, a trigger warning on that.

But the breastfeeding can be particularly triggering if there was a traumatic, anything traumatizing to the breast. And so really kind of going through that as well. Body image, you know, our body changes so much. And that postpartum, you know, pregnancy and that postpartum, I like to think of postpartum as a year.

And so that postpartum,

Laura: I'm two and a half years out and I'm still saying I'm postpartum.

Whitney: I, you know, yeah, I, it makes me so mad.

Laura: You’re always postpartum, right,

Whitney: Yes. 

Laura: after you've had a baby?

Whitney: You are. You are never, yeah, you are never the same, right? You are never the same. I love that. I love that. So I think all of that really needs to be taken into consideration as well. And then the weaning part. So what we, what I've done before in the past is have met with the partners and have really developed a plan for kind of that postpartum in the perinatal phase and, you know, during pregnancy as well.

And really have, having the partner be kind of the eyes and ears. And so then it takes, it kind of takes a pressure off because we want our partner also to be involved with the, with the, you know, we call it baby led weaning too, and, and solid sometimes. Different verbiage, but meaning the same thing. So how can we get the partner involved? Sometimes I'll have parents take pictures too of like, okay, like, what do you think? And then also work with the pediatrician as well. I think it's really, really important that we work with a pediatrician just to make sure that baby is, you know, adequately growing.

Particularly too, I've always been so curious of this, of, you know, you and I share similar experiences with the, the trauma of NICU and, and latching. But when you have an eating disorder, particularly in such a vulnerable space and time, how does that affect milk supply? How does that affect latching? Different things like that. If there's a co-occurring mood disorder, right? So how is that showing up as well? And so really just trying to hold space for all of the variables while providing, you know, as much support and how the person wants support. I'm also a nurse and so I work with a lot of nurses that have eating disorders and some of them are like, okay, Whitney, give me like, I just need cognitive things. Like, tell me what to do. I need cognitive resources. I always like to ask like, how do you want to receive information, you know, as well.

Laura: Yeah. Yeah. And, I think like one thing that I just wanna point out that I've heard from, from parents with eating disorders as well, is that actually sometimes seeing your child have this like real innate embodied wisdom around food and knowing exactly what to do can be so healing for a parent with an eating disorder as well. Like that can really be like, wow, here's this almost role model in a sense of how to have an intuitive relationship with food.

Whitney: Yes. And it's almost like reparenting, they get a chance of kind of like to reparent or, or sometimes I like to, maybe not reparent is the best word, but like renourish their inner child. Like they get to reclaim some of that as they're going through the process of, you know, watching the baby-led weaning.

And so I try to do things to like make it fun. I, and you know, some parents will side-eye me, but like, also like if your kid is doing chicken nuggets and peas and, mac and cheese, eat chicken nuggets, peas and mac and cheese with them, you know, eat some of those kid foods that maybe.

Laura: Oh my God. This is not like, if any parent listening in on this podcast side eyed you for that, then I would put them out personally, because we don't judge or shame food around here. But yeah. Sorry. Your point still stands though. Like get, get in there with them.

Whitney: Yes. Make food messy. Make it fun. I've had so many parents be like, oh my goodness, you want me to do what? I'm like, yes, eat those things that you did not necessarily get to eat as a child. You know, because maybe, cuz sometimes too, you gotta think we're, we're dealing generational, right? There was the grandmother that had the eating disorder or the grandfather, which, or a close family member, which directly impacted how the parent, their relationship with food and body and that parent is like, okay, I really wanna break this generational cycle of disordered eating, eating disorder, and some of that is, it gets renourishing, the younger our, our younger inner child too.

Laura: Yeah. And that’s like a question that I was gonna ask you, you know, for parents who have their own eating disorder, who really are terrified of passing that onto their own kids. You've sort of named there that eating those fun, nostalgic childhood foods is something that they can do to help, like you say, end that intergenerational cycle of dieting, disordered eating, eating disorders. But I'm wondering if there's anything else that you would offer to parents to help, you know, put their mind at ease in terms of, you know, passing on an eating disorder.

Whitney: Yeah, you know, we know that there is a genetic vulnerability. It's, you know, we can actually in the bio psychosocial model, like the biology, the psychology, the social environment, and I think the social environment really is key, right? Is how are we creating these safe spaces for you and family members when it comes to eating? And I think too, like taking the pressure off of eating, you know, food is so many different things. It's cultural, it's celebratory you know, it can be, you know, different religions have different food, uh, preferences and things as well. But we can also make it fun. And that's the thing too, is like, I don't think a lot of kids and adolescents are like wanting parents to cook these gourmet meals and make sure they have the salmon, twiced baked potatoes, right? Like, I couldn't, I, I remember some of those things I grew up eating right, but I don't remember every mealtime. But I do remember the, like how I felt as a kid getting to be in that space with my parents. So that's what I tell the parents that I'm working with is how do we create just that safe space where you get to just be with your kid for those 20, 30 minutes. Right? Especially the teenagers, right. I have a lot of parents that are parenting teenagers and it's like just, you know, such a chaotic time. Right?

Laura: Yeah.

Whitney: So I'm like, go through the drive through. Go through the drive through, turn off the radio, and y'all talk, you know, maybe have 20 minutes a day where there's no stimulation, if you can and just talk and, and see how they're doing. That's the kind of stuff that they remember, you know.

Laura: I, yeah. I love that so much. You know, my next question was going to be about sort of the influence of social media in terms of like our, in influencing us to feed our kids perfectly. And as you were saying that, like, I wish that you turned that into like a post for social media. Like take your kids to the fucking drive-through , just go.

Whitney: Just go through the drive through. It amazes me, like, yeah, it amazes me. Just like you said, I'm gonna make that a post. That's a great idea. 

Laura: Do it. Please do it. Because like not only is it subversive in and of itself, but like coming from a dietician who works in eating disorders, like, just like we need that, I'm, I'm working on a piece at the moment, for my newsletter about clean eating and orthorexia and how that is then transmitted to kids and like the fallout on children like, Whitney, I found a case study of a six month old baby. I'm actually gonna cry. A six month old baby who was being fed a homemade formula of sea moss and hemp seed, no supplementation. This child had hypocalcemia, was admitted to hospital with seizures and had rickets. A six month old baby in like, this is like a couple of years ago, right. And so this, yeah, I'm, I guess, You know, we, we all want our kids to be well-nourished, like you were saying at the beginning. Right. That's like, that's a, that's like a, it's a fundamental job of a parent, right? To make sure your kid has like enough to eat and like gets all their, all their nutrition and at the same time, all the, like the fearmongering, the scaremongering around nutrition, around, you know, the quote unquote obesity epidemic. It’s driving parents to, and I'm not blaming any individual parent here cuz it's a systemic issue, but it's, you know, promoting a way of eating that is so dangerous for children.

Whitney: Yeah.

Laura: Anyway, sorry, that was like a major tangent because I've been thinking about it and I find it so disturbing and upsetting.

Share Can I Have Another Snack?

But even in my own practice, I see it happen on like a, not such an acute level, but see the fallout of kind of like this of like healthy eating and clean eating and yeah, this strive for perfection in feeding our kids.

Whitney: Yes. And well, and you bring up such a good point too, is I've actually had the parent, the mom, and the, and again, kind of speaking more generally, the mom ended up realizing she had a problem because the kid's teacher was like, you're not packing enough food.

Laura: Okay. Yeah.

Whitney: So that's when she was like, my relationship, I'm passing on these traits and behaviors. Like I'm, I'm, I'm so, my relationship with food is so distorted that now I'm not even packing enough for my kid. And so even teachers just really, you know, and I'm so grateful. My daughter's kindergarten teacher actually has a son who is in recovery. And so she is so aligned with positive reinforcement. I mean, and like, you know, I told at the beginning, we pack the same lunch. My kid has had the same exact school lunch for three years. I mean, that's, you know, and so I, I just had an honest conversation with her. I was like, you're gonna see the same thing. You know, I, I would love it if she would eat through the line, if she sees something, if she ends up having two lunches, I please support her in that. I want her, you know, we give her free room to try the school lunch if she wants, but we always pack her lunch on field trips. And so, but even teachers, right? Teachers and educators, if we can get them really plugged in on some of these things because you're right, it's, you know, early childhood is such an important time for kids. But it can be so anxiety provoking for parents who are really struggling and are trying to figure out, how do I live with this and it's taking over my life and I don't pass it on.

Laura: Yeah. Yeah. And, uh, it just, I have all the compassion in the world for parents who are in recovery from an eating disorder and, and then having to navigate that layer of feeding their kid. I think it's difficult enough feeding a child with the pressures and expectations that we get from social media anyway without having that layer of, of an eating disorder as well.

It's so tricky and like you were sort of suggesting before, there are so many pressure points in terms of conception, pregnancy, baby loss. Infertility is another one. And then the actual, you know, birth and if, if, if it's a traumatic birth in that early postnatal period, and then you go from all of that to then having to, to, to, you know, pick up the reins with baby led weaning or, or whatever else, you know, whatever approach that you're taking. And it just all can be so tricky.

Whitney: Yes.

Laura: And there's just, there, I feel like there's a lack of anyone having conversations about these things and even less support for these things.

Whitney: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. 

Laura: I'm just wondering if, if there's anything that you wanted to add about either navigating feeding kids with an eating disorder or kind of the influence of diet culture, and you know what the like mom influencer culture for want of better word on how we feed our kids and kind of what you are seeing in your clinical practice.

Whitney: Yeah. Well you brought up a really good point earlier. We're seeing a lot in the land of orthorexia and so, you know, something I've said before in the past of, uh, clients that I'm like, okay, we, we want to really work on the embodiment. We really wanna work on the variety if we can. The consistent nourishment, you know, without. without engaging orthorexia if we can. And what I mean by that is sometimes there's a tendency, I, I very much treat eating disorders on the spectrum. And so what tends to happen is maybe one, maybe one behavior dials down, but then there's this intense fear anxiety that ramps up and then kind of that obsession with the clean eating, or I don't wanna have like, you know, another co-occurring disease with this. And it's like that hyper fixation emerges. And so really talking about that in a very, just like, non-chain based way. But I definitely see the influence, like you said. I love, I love what you said, the mom culture of this like clean eating smoothie, like whole foods kind of like obsession, which feels so elitist to me. It feels very elitist. 

Laura: It is because, I mean, this is something I think a lot about is the not only the time, the money, the energy, I don't know. There's so much additional labor that goes into producing that, but it's all hidden, right? Nobody talks about the fact that like, you need someone else to look after your kids while you're doing this right, or you know, the, the labor, like where does that labor fall? Who does that fall on, that labor? And the fact that like it's, you know, it's not necessary from a nutrition perspective, right? You could get like a yogurt drink or a store bought smoothie if that's, you know, available to you. That a lot of what we see on social media is really about aesthetics rather than about nutrition. And I don't know if you know, is it, is it Casey, is it Davis from, from Struggle Care? I don't know if you know that account on social media. I think I've, I've spoken about this before. But she, so she talks about this in terms of your home and, like what's functional versus what is kind of like an aesthetic in terms of your home. And she talks about it through like, through the lens of like laundry. A lot of the times, you know how people have these like pristine laundry rooms and like laundry is kind of a hobby for some people, but that's not necessary in order to have like clean clothes that don't stink, right? You don't like, what is an essential function is like sorting your laundry, putting it in the machine and then like putting it away or putting it in a pile that is, you know, accessible to you. Right. And it's the same thing with feeding, right? This like, I don't even know what the cool, like, super foods are right now, but like the berry nourishing whole foods smoothie.

Whitney: Yes,

Laura: Like, sure. Give your kids, like, my kid loves berries. My kid would like eat their entire body weight in berries, but I'm not like making a fresh smoothie every morning for him, I'm like throwing some on a tray and being like, here you go.

Whitney: Yes, and it's ending up on the wall, on the floor. The fingers are blue. Absolutely

Laura: So, yeah, and, and I think that that's like a really helpful way to, for us to frame things that we see on social media, like, is this, is this, uh, is this functional or is this an aesthetic? Right. More, more, more often than not on social media, it's an aesthetic, it's a hobby. It's not like a fundamental requirement for feeding our children.

Whitney: That's so good. Gosh, I love, okay, it's called struggling. What's the account called? 

Laura: Struggle Care. 

Whitney: Struggle Care. That is the most beautiful like metaphor that I have heard in such a while. Like that is,

Laura: It's so good. And she did a podcast with you know, like that 10% Happier podcast?

Whitney: Yes. Yes.

Laura: And she said in that, that she was inspired by like the anti-diet movement to talk about this. She's a therapist. But she kind of took like a lot of the teachings of like the anti diet, like body and body autonomy, and movements like that, and kind of like translated it into home care. So it makes a lot of sense because there are a lot of parallels in terms of like giving yourself permission for your house to be messy. Because what matters is that it's functional and it works for you. Similarly, like eating in a way that works for you rather than all these prescribed rules that diet culture teaches us. I mean, she articulates it a bit better than that, but like, yeah, that's her kind of general,

Whitney: I love that so much. I feel like this podcast time was like for me today because I love this so much.

Laura: Yeah, she's got, she's got a book. I haven't read it, but I need to get, I need to get on that because yeah, it's clearly she's got a lot of wisdom to share that I think like yeah, we can take for our, you know, to talk about yeah, to, in, in terms of how we can like give ourselves permission to feed our kids in a way that is functional rather than adhering to someone else's unrealistic standards and ideals, which is more about aesthetics than it is about nutrition. Okay.

So I'm, I'm curious to know if there's anything else that you wanted to add to that, or if you feel like we've, like

Whitney: I feel like we've talked so about so many things. I love it. I feel like, yeah, so many things today, so far.

Laura: Well, given that we have covered a lot of ground, there are, so there are two things that I ask at the end of every episode, and the first thing is that I would love to hear who or what is nourishing you right now.

Whitney: Gosh, that's such a good question. So my partner is fabulous and just cannot speak the like enough amazing things. So my partner has been so amazing. Does a lot of the early morning routine , I'm not

Laura: Love to see it.

Whitney: Yes, I was a night shift nurse for years, and so I, just mornings are still hard for me, so definitely my partner has, has stepped up and I've been getting a lot of nourishment just from a lot of colleagues, you know. I just came back from New York. We were at A Project Heal which is an eating disorder nonprofit in New York City. And so it just felt so nice to be in space with people, you know, I just had really been craving that likeminded people, and so that was just so, just refreshing, like just for my soul, just to be, you know, so many people that I had met honestly over Instagram, right? Like most of the people there I had met and connected with over Instagram. So it was just so nice just to like be in space with them for the first time. So I loved that.

Laura: Yeah. Especially like, I don't know how you feel, but if it just feels like, we're still sort of almost in this lockdown mentality of like not really being physically together a lot of times. And a lot of stuff is still like professional stuff is still online, which is great because it makes it really accessible, but at the same time you still miss out on that connection.

So yeah. I was watch, I saw some of your stories and posts and stuff from New York and I was like, oh, you looked like you were having the best time.

Whitney: It was so fun.

Laura: And New York is such a fun city to be in. So yeah, it was like coming across for sure.

Whitney: Yeah, I told my, I was telling my husband, I was like, I really wanna go back and take our little one when she's a little older, cuz it's so magical this time of year. And I didn't know that. Like I just, I, you know, I've never been to New York City like, you know, in holiday season and so it is just, it was so, it was cold, but it,

Laura: I was just about to say, that's my like memory of New York in like November, December is it's fucking freezing

Whitney: It is. It is.

Laura: But also spectacular, so yeah. Yeah. Oh, well thank you for sharing that. And then the last, the last question that I have for you is what are you snacking on right now? So, at the end of every episode, my guests and I share something that they've been really into, something that they've been enjoying. Basically a recommendation that you have for the listeners.

Whitney: Okay. So I am one of these people that I like to try seasonal things, so I've been trying a lot of mocktails. And we love donuts in our house. So I'm, I, yeah, I, we like love, like, donuts, coffee, chocolate milk, all the things. So I've been trying to do coffee mocktails with like a pastry each morning because it's kind of chilly here, but I just love warmth, just warm things. So that's what I've been doing a lot lately.

Laura: So when you're saying a, like a coffee mocktail, is it warm or is it like a, oh, my. Okay. I feel like you need to give a bit more explanation here because like when you said mocktail, I thought you meant like, like an espresso martini, but,

Whitney: Yes. So you could do that without the, which. Okay, so how I am, I could drink an espresso martini every day or Bailey's and so I love like a Bailey's Peppermint or like a Bailey liqueor but obviously, you know, at, uh, 

Laura: It's not, not totally advisable, right?

Whitney: I've been doing the hot coffee and I've been exploring with like doing like, so this one dessert that I love to make is, it's cool whip, but I put, uh, okay, so I make, I melt chocolate chips and white chocolate, and then cocoa powder, whip that, let it cool. And then I fold that into like, cool whip or icing, let it freeze. So I'll put that in my hot coffee, let it melt, and then I'll do like a peppermint or a lavender, like simple, like a, a simple syrup thing.

Laura: Oh wow.

Whitney: And then I'll decorate that with like, and then I'll put more like, whipped cream on top, and I'll decorate that with like, uh, cinnamon or nutmeg or like pecan sprinkle, something like that.

Laura: You are doing this for breakfast, like on a weekday.

Whitney: Yeah. Yeah.

Laura: Oh my God. I can like barely get some oatmeal on the table. That's impressive.

Whitney: Yeah, just so I'm, I just finished my semester, so the school year is just so hectic for us because I'm in clinic, I'm getting my, I'm finishing my degree to be a psychiatric nurse practitioner, and so I usually was in clinic like 7:00 AM to 6:00 PM Tuesday, Wednesday, 

Laura: Uh,

Whitney: So I just finished last week. I was in New York taking exams and so I had three weeks off. So I'm just gonna enjoy and do this.

Laura: Okay. So your, yeah. Okay. This is a hobby for you. Then, you've got a little bit of extra time. It's luxurious. You're leaning into the seasonal mocktail drink situation. It sounds amazing. I would love to be at your house for breakfast,

Whitney: Gosh. I wish I could make you one. I wish I could make you,

Laura: I will take a recipe for one. If you have one to share. I will put it in the links.

Whitney: Okay. Okay. I'll have to send you some recipes. So I love drinks, like I love beverages, it's so funny you said the word luxury. I made a mood board. Do you know, like Delina Soto, Nutrition Tea? Okay. So we're all like close friends, all met from Instagram, and we have this like nutrition chat. And so Clara was like, let's do a mood board. And so we all zoomed one night with our beverages and Canva. And did these like online mood boards, which were like, amazing. But like my word was luxury. And I was like, I'm really embracing that end of 2022, 2023,

Laura: I love it. I love it. Channeling it for the new year. Clara was on Season One of the podcast, so yes. Yay. Yeah. She is known to us. Yeah, she's great. And yeah, I totally love that luxurious energy that you're bringing into 2023. All right, so real quick, my thing that I've been snacking on, so there is this like little brand in the UK I think it's like an independent female owned clothing brand. And they used to do a lot of kid stuff, but now they're doing grownup stuff, but it's still super cute and funky. And I just bought - I've linked to it in a newsletter, but I'll link to it again in this episode - just like a plain t-shirt, but it's got a cereal box, like a little drawing on the front and it's super cute. I just put it in my stories so you can go check that out afterwards. 

Whitney: Definitely will. 

Laura: But yeah, it's by Cub & Pudding and just like the cotton is super soft and it's like, you know, just like comfy on my body. I have no idea how I'm gonna wear it yet, but we're recording this before Christmas, even though it will come out afterwards. And yeah, it was like a little Christmas treat to myself. 

Whitney: I love that. 

Laura: And it just like is very on brand for me, so loving it. 

Whitney, it was such a pleasure to chat to you. And I wondered if you could please share where people can find you and, and hear more about your work.

Whitney: Yes. Thank you so much for offering that. So my website is And then my Instagram, which I'm probably most accessible through is @whitneytrotter.rd.

Laura: And I'll link to all of that in the show notes so people can find you. But this was such a lovely conversation. So thanks for being here. And yeah, everyone go and check Whitney out.


Laura Thomas: Thank you so much for listening to this week's episode of Can I Have Another Snack? If you enjoyed this episode, please take a moment to rate and review in your podcast player and head over to for the full transcript of this conversation, plus links we discussed in the episode and how you can find out more about this week's guest. While you're over there, consider signing up for either a free or paid subscription Can I Have Another Snack? newsletter, where I'm exploring topics around bodies, identity and appetite, especially as it relates to parenting. Also, it's totally cool if you're not a parent, you're welcome too. We're building a really awesome community of cool, creative and smart people who are committed to ending the tyranny of body shame and intergenerational transmission of disordered eating. Can I Have Another Snack? is hosted by me, Laura Thomas, edited by Joeli Kelly, our funky artwork is by Caitlin Preyser. And the music is by Jason Barkhouse. And lastly Fiona Bray keeps me on track and makes sure this episode gets out every week. This episode wouldn't be possible without your support. So thank you for being here and valuing my work and I'll catch you next week.

Leave a comment

Can I Have Another Snack?
Can I Have Another Snack?
Can I Have Another Snack? podcast is an exploration of appetite, identity, and bodies. We talk about how we feed ourselves and our kids (in all senses of the word!), and the ingredients we need to survive in diet culture. We’re sitting with the questions: who or what are we nurturing? And who or what is nurturing us? Hosted by Laura Thomas - anti-diet nutritionist and author of the Can I Have Another Snack? newsletter.