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Karen's Blogs

Blogs are brief, to-the-point, conversational and packed with information, strategies, and tips to turn troubled eaters into “normal” eaters and to help you enjoy a happier, healthier life.Sign up by clicking "Subscribe" below and they’ll arrive in your inbox. Older blogs are archived at http://www.eatingdisordersblogs.com/authors/karen-r-koenig/.

What Label Can You Live With?

For my new book due out in January, Helping Patients Outsmart Overeating: Psychological Strategies for Doctors and Health Care Providers, my co-author, Paige O’Mahoney, MD, and I struggled to find the best ways to describe the patient population we were writing about as well as their concerns. We received input from the Health at Every Size movement (found at HAES) and sought out current research on the subject.   One study, “The impact of weight labels on body image, internalized weight stigma, affect, perceived health, and intended weight loss behaviors in normal-weight and overweight college women” (Essayli, Murakami, Wilson, and Latner, Am J Hlth Prom 1-7, DOI: 10.1177/0890117116661982, ajhp.sagepub.com, 2016) explains that there has been a substantial scientific challenge to use of the BMI-related weight labels of “normal, overweight, and obese” because “it does not reflect differences in muscle mass, age and race.” The study’s “results provide initial support for the...
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High Weight Does Not Equal Disease and Death

It’s about time that we start to see articles in major newspapers like this one by Carrie Dennett in The Washington Post, “Does obesity automatically mean poor health” (10/4/16, http://www.heraldtribune.com/news/20161004/does-obesity-automatically-mean-poor-health). We’ve been scolded for decades about fat equaling an unhealthy body and mind and putting those of high weights onto a path that leads to an early death. That’s mainstream media for you, often lagging behind reporting on cutting edge research (described in Body Respect by Bacon and Aphramor or Secrets from the Eating Lab by Mann) that draws surprisingly different conclusions.   Dennett writes: “For every study suggesting that as body mass index increases, the risk of chronic disease and early death also increases, there are others demonstrating that people can be healthy—or unhealthy—at almost any body weight.” One such study describes how “‘metabolic health’ was more important than BMI when it came to estimating future health risks.” The truth...
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Could Exercise Avoidance Be Hardwired?

If you’re someone who dislikes exercise and is tired of feeling like there’s something gravely wrong with you, perhaps there’s something very normal going on. You may be in sync with our human ancestors. Or, so says Daniel Lieberman, Harvard professor and expert in human evolutionary biology in “Hate exercise? Maybe you’re only human” by Colby Itkowitz (Sarasota Herald-Tribune, 10/4/16, E26).   “In a 2015 paper entitled “Is Exercise Really Medicine? An Evolutionary Perspective,” he poses the possibility that there is something unnatural about the idea of exercising simply for health reasons. Interesting, because we’re told all the time (and you may have even heard it from me on more than one occasion), that we should want to exercise to stay healthy. His explanation is based on the concept that humans developed in such a way as to want to conserve energy. The more energy we conserved for important activities, the...
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Less Conflictual Relationships May Mean More Regulated Eating

Left alone many of you could probably eat quite “normally” much of the time. By left alone, I mean if people didn’t intrude into your lives. As much as they add joy to our world, humans can also be sources of stress, particularly when they’re what I call very difficult people (http://eatingdisordersblogs.com/difficult-people/). The problem is how VDPs press our buttons, causing us to react without thinking.   Doctors Rick Brinkman and Rick Kirschner offer excellent advice on how to behave around VDPs to reduce stress and improve relationships in their book, Dealing with People You Can’t Stand: How to Bring Out the Best in People at Their Worst (McGraw-Hill, 1994). They help you understand what people want by breaking them down into four “intent” categories so that you can respond appropriately to others’ priorities.   1) When people want to get a task done, you’ll feel pressure to move quickly. To...
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Are You Teaching Your Children What's Enough?

Figuring out how much to eat is done through a felt sense in the mind/body. Knowing when to stop eating is connected to knowing when to stop working, playing, or doing any activity. In “The three faces of overindulgence” authors Jenni Stahlmann and Jody Hagaman (Sarasota Herald-Tribune, 9/26/2016, p. B2), explain how to talk to children about what’s enough. The effects of overindulgence described in the book, How Much Is Too Much: Raising Likeable, Responsible, Respectful Children in An Age of Overindulgence by Clarke, Dawson and Bredehoft, produce children who have “difficulty in delaying gratification, irresponsibility, disrespect and defiance of authority, incompetence, interrelational problems, and trouble developing a personal identity.” The first form of overindulgence involves parents doing too much. This includes over-focusing on children and asking them, “Are you hungry?” too often or forcing them to eat or eat more than is satisfying. Parents who constantly push sweets and treats...
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Manage Your Mind, Manage Your Eating

Being unable to manage your thoughts can add substantial difficulty to managing your eating. Said another way, by learning to employ power over mental chaos, you can learn how to make wise choices that guide your food cravings. The interrelationship between the two came to me as I awaited a client who’s a troubled eater and I began thinking about several interactions I’d had with a friend I was doing a project with. I kept emailing her a question that related to the project, and she kept emailing me back without answering it. This happened four times. Each time I tried to be clearer about what I wanted to know, but to no avail. The question wasn’t greatly important to finishing the project, but her lack of response was bugging me no end. I’m usually pretty good with scotching ruminations before they start by immediately filing non-essential issues in my Unimportant...
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Use Laughter to Change Your Mood

We’ve all heard the saying, “Laughter is the best medicine.” Is there any truth to this maxim or is it an old wives’ tale? According to “Is laughter effective complementary medicine?” by Florence Chaverneff, PhD (Psychiatric Advisor, 9/26/16), it’s true. Then, why not use it to help manage the internal distress that drives dysregulated eating? The article about gelotology, the study of laughter, explains the neurochemistry of what happens to us when we laugh and how to put this knowledge to good use to manage pain. Studying the brain pathway for laughter, research tells us that laughter affects our bodies in several positive, healthful ways, including “muscle relaxation, improved respiration and enhancement of immune system defenses, mental functioning and pain tolerance.” It does this through four channels: “1. physiological effects on the muscular, cardiovascular, immune and neuroendocrine systems; 2. the promotion of one's emotional state; 3. the improvement of one's stress-coping...
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The following blogs first appeared at www.eatingdisordersblogs.com, a website of Monte Nido & Affiliates, LLC. 

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This website is owned and operated by Karen R. Koenig, M.Ed., LCSW. It contains material intended for informational and educational purposes only, and reasonable effort is made to keep its contents updated. Any material contained herein is not to be construed as the practice of clinical social work or of psychotherapy, although adherence to applicable Florida States, Rules, and Code of Ethics is observed. Material on this website is not intended as a substitute for medical or psychological advice, diagnosis, or treatment for mental health issues or eating disorder problems, which should be done only through individualized therapeutic consultation. Karen R. Koenig, LCSW disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the use of any information contained on this website. This website contains links to other sites. The inclusion of such links does not necessarily constitute endorsement by Karen R. Koenig, LCSW who disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the use of any information contained in this website. Further, Karen R. Koenig, LCSW, does not and cannot guarantee the accuracy or current usefulness of the material contained in the linked sites. Users of any website must be aware of the limitation to confidentiality and privacy, and website usage does not carry any guarantee or privacy of any information contained therein.