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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. 

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What Are You Looking for in Friends?

Friends can be a wonderful addition to your life, but you must know what you want in friendship for it to be beneficial. Because so many dysregulated eaters didn’t have great relational role models or healthy parental attachments when they were younger, they may seek attributes in friends that are not realistic. Moreover, not everyone wants the same thing in friends. It works best when you know what you’re looking for. Activity friends. I know people who have little capacity for deep intimacy but are loads of fun to do things with. They have a vibrant interest in what’s going on around them and like nothing better than an adventure. They love to go to shows, movies, museums, lectures, and events that immerse them in and teach them about the world.  These may not be the folks to complain to when you’ve had a bad day or turn to when you...

Assimilation versus Accommodation

Knowing the difference between the processes of assimilation and accommodation will help you make conscious, healthy choices rather than act on what might be your impulse to stay with old ways of thinking, feeling, and behaving. For example, a client had a cousin who’d recently changed sex from female to male. Sadly, my client was the only person in the family who supported and accepted this change. Her description of how she managed to get another relative to be more open-minded and accepting of their (now) nephew is a perfect example of how these psychological processes work. According to Kendra Cherry, MSEd in What is Assimilation in Psychology?, “Assimilation is the cognitive process of making new information fit in with your existing understanding of the world. Essentially, when you encounter something new, you process and make sense of it by relating it to things that you already know. Through assimilation, we...

Why People Don’t Like Anyone Feeling Bad for Them

On the same day I was thinking about a client who always said he was fine because he “didn’t want anyone to feel bad for him,” another client said she felt very uncomfortable when people treated her with compassion and caring, especially after she messed up. Both examples reminded me of a kindness I’ll never forget. Working as an office manager for a small non-profit in Cambridge, MA back in the 1970s, I was in charge of putting together our training flyers. One day, I inadvertently switched the dates and  facilitators’ names under the descriptions of two seminars. Imagine my horror when I saw my error in print by the thousands and realized the magnitude of what I’d done.  Fortunately, I worked with two wonderful women who reacted to my acute distress and unending mea culpas by closing the office (it was a Friday) and taking me for a drink. Those...

Dangers of the Diet Cult(ure)

Last fall I was interviewed by the National Eating Disorders Association in conjunction with an article I wrote for them about holiday eating. It was a brief interview and there wasn’t time for everything I wanted to say. Hence this blog to add to the many other anti-diet blogs I’ve written.  Diet culture is a cult. It’s a society-approved and encouraged distortion of the purpose of eating primarily for nourishment to survive and secondarily for pleasure. It provides rigid rules to keep people in line and to see food, bodies and themselves as either “good” or “bad.” It exclusively values thin, lean and toned bodies and eating restrictively.  If you follow diet culture rules, it promises good health, happiness, lovability, cultural approval, and self-worth. If you don’t follow the rules, it suggests you’ll end up with poor health, no control over your eating, unworthiness, and being an outcast in society. It...

Do You Have a Can-Do Mindset?

Decades ago, I heard the Henry Ford quote “Whether you think you can, or you think you can't – you're right.” It’s true because our thoughts propel our actions, that is, what we think and tell ourselves is exactly what we do. Not a week goes by without a client insisting they can’t do something: get to work on time, say no to their children, sit with feelings, attend AA meetings, etc. And each time I hear them say “I can’t,” I know they won’t, no matter how much they yearn to change. For example, Portia tells me she can’t stop fuming at her husband who has a very different temperament than she does. She’s Type A and he marches to his own inner drum, getting things done when he feels like it. Every session, she comes in and complains she “simply cannot accept his scattered behavior.” How could repeating these...

Where Did You Learn That Suffering Is Good?

I’ve had several clients over the years with the daft idea that suffering for its own sake is a beneficial experience. I say daft because I thought so myself in my early days. I remember as a child refusing my father’s offer of a window air conditioner (a big deal in the 1950s!) to show how strong I was. But all I ever did was sweat and lose sleep and wish I’d said yes. I was too ashamed to tell my father I’d changed my mind and, luckily, somewhere down the line, he simply installed the unit. Ah, sweet relief. Another example occurred when I was skiing with a (so-called) friend. We agreed that he’d drive up to the mountain and I’d drive back. But on our last run, I fell and badly hurt my hand (which later turned out to be broken), yet I insisted on driving home as per...

How to Stand Your Ground Around Food with Other People

Do you know people who seem totally comfortable in their own skin around food? They eat whatever they want whenever they want in whatever quantity they feel like. If people comment on their feeding habits, you can tell they couldn’t care less. My guess is that these folks are this “self-focused” in many (if not all) areas of their lives. Let’s talk about how they tune out what others think and tune into themselves. Before going down this path, however, I need to point out that never caring what people think is not a healthy trait. Humans evolved to live in harmony with others and take their opinions and feelings seriously. We’re designed to live in community, which means not always following our own needs and wants.  That said, we’re also individuals meant to think for ourselves, especially when making decisions about how to feed ourselves. Just because your friends are...

Were You Emotionally Abused as a Child?

Many people are surprised when they learn they were emotionally abused as children. Maybe they kind of knew it but didn’t want to believe it or maybe they truly had no idea that what was done to them is considered maltreatment. It’s important to recognize if you were emotionally abused growing up because that understanding will help you resolve your current emotional issues, not to mention your eating problems. An article on how adults shouting can be harmful to children’s development really hit home for me. My parents frequently argued and it wasn’t so much their loudness that got to me but the upset behind their disagreements. It felt like they were shouting even when they weren’t because I could feel the anger gushing out of them. Raised voices are disconcerting and make children feel frightened. Even today, I feel myself immediately emotionally dysregulate when people are arguing loudly around me. ...

Eat-iosyncracies

Struggling with food, we seek ideas from others on what and how to eat. On the merry-go-round of eating disorders, every diet is the brass ring, every person who seems to eat “right” is a model to imitate—both of which are exactly the wrong approaches. To have a positive relationship with food, instead look inward at your “eat-iosyncracies.”  My client Pru knew restrictive eating regimes weren’t the answer yet didn’t trust herself with food after decades of overeating and weight gain. To point her toward the path of “normal” eating, I shared some anecdotes about my evolution to enjoying a healthy relationship with food and my body along with my idiosyncratic ways of eating.  When I was first reading about appetite-driven eating, I took the concept of figuring out what I wanted to eat very seriously. One night in Boston, I threw on my down parka over my pj’s and headed...

What You Need to Know About Friends and Friendship

What do friends have to do with eating? Well, friends help you turn to people, not food, when you want to celebrate or have fun, pour your heart out, or share your deepest confidences. They provide unconditional love and support. Friendships are essential to first-rate mental health—assuming the friends you pick are mentally healthy themselves and add to, rather than detract from, living your best life.  According to How Many Friends Do Americans Have?, social connections not only benefit your mental health, but can “change your cardiovascular system, your immune system, how you sleep, your cognitive health. . . It's about this mix. It's about connecting with people who are close to you, who are maybe less close to you, who connect you with other people, who provide different kinds of support. Essentially, the idea is that the more diverse your social portfolio, the happier you are and the higher your...