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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/.

Stop Measuring Everything Against Perfect

PERFECTION Blog March 27Image by Debbie Digioia   Perfect — what a seductive word it is. And what a lie it represents. And what pain it causes. I wish I had a dollar for every time a client says, “Well, my eating isn’t perfect, but…” or “It’s not a perfect relationship, but…” Tell me, why must anything be perfect? Why would we expect it to be? Is it really possible that it could be, or is perfection, most of the time, for most of us, made of hope and wishes? Consider what you your life would be like if you’d never heard the word or the concept. A lot better, I’d wager.   I was asking a client how her relatively new relationship was going with her boyfriend and she said, “It’s not perfect, but we’re doing okay.” If she hadn’t looked a bit chagrined, I might have let the comment pass, because she was acknowledging that things we......
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The Silo Effect and Resolving Eating Problems

March 23 Silo Blog Image by Debbie Digioia   I was listening to a talk on the dangers of “the silo effect” on U.S. climate change policy and thought about how we compartmentalize our eating problems in a similar way—to our own detriment. According to Wikepedia, “The Silo Effect refers to a lack of information flowing between groups or parts of an organization. On a farm, silos prevent different grains from mixing. In an organization, the Silo Effect limits the interactions between members of different branches of the company, thus leading to reduced productivity (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Information_silo).   In a similar way, we have silo ways of thinking about ourselves that inhibit our efficiency. We think of having eating problems, unhealthy beliefs, emotional problems, or skill deficits, but rarely consider how they impact one and other. For what feels like forever, we’ve regarded problems with overeating and mindless eating as being due solely to lack of self-disci......
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Persistence Leads to Success

Persistence March 20 blog Image by Debbie Digioia   Do have persistence to reach your eating and health (and other goals)? Or do you either give up easily? Do you persist for a while, then slack off, and keep up this on-off cycle until you stop trying? If you’ve ever wondered about why persistence is difficulty for you—but gave up seeking to figure it out before you found an answer!—here are some questions to ask yourself about what you learned about persistence as a child: Were one or both of your parents/caretakers persistent or did they cave without a fight or try to reach a goal, stop, resume, then give up their efforts? If you didn’t have role models who persisted in attempting to reach realistic goals, you may have a hard time doing it because you likely picked up the bad habits and patterns of your parents. If they didn’t have stick-to-itiveness, you never saw ......
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Trauma Survivors and Emotional Eating

TRAUMA BLOG 3 16 17 Image by Debbie Digioia   If you were a victim of trauma in childhood, it’s essential to understand that you may have a more complex set of problems than a dysregulated eater who hasn’t had traumatic experiences. This fact was brought home to me while I was reading “How Trauma Can Make a Victim a Victimizer: Using Empathy to Help Abusers Make Amends” by Noel Larson (Psychotherapy Networker online 7/12/16).   Childhood trauma—including neglect and sexual/emotional/physical abuse—more often than not, produces a dysregulated nervous system. Larson tells us that, “When the primary caregiver is unwilling or unable to regulate an infant’s stress through attunement, the child suffers extreme anxiety, even terror. The child who doesn’t get the message that everything’s going to be all right can grow up unable to regulate his or her own affect. Without attunement, the infant’s brain has two major options: hyperarousal or dissociation. A hyperaroused child’s world is domin......
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You Can Change Even Ingrained Bad Habits

BREAKING HABITS BLOG FOR 3 13 17Image by Debbie Digioia  Rather than blame and be hard on yourself for having difficulty eradicating bad habits, start by accepting that everyone has trouble changing them. Stop berating yourself for returning to the same old patterns again and again and enjoy some self-compassion for a change. If nothing else, the self-compassion will change your life for the better. And follow tips from the experts, like those below, to make behavior modification easier.   “Why Is It So Hard to Break a Bad Habit” by Brandon Ambrosino (Johns Hopkins Health Review, Fall Winter 2016, pp 7-8) first talks about the purpose of habits, then moves on to explain the best, proven ways to break them. Quoting Charles Duhigg writing in The Power of Habits, he says, “Without habits, our brains would shut down, overwhelmed by the minutiae of every day life.” Understanding this concept is crucial. It’s a great deal easier to change......
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Big Can Be Beautiful – Only You Can Change Your Body Image

STRONG WOMAN KKImage by Debbie Digioia    No matter what our weight, too many women (and men, to a lesser degree) think it’s natural to vilify fat and, if you’re of a high weight, that you need to feel badly about it. Can we all agree that we live in a fat phobic, thin-obsessed society—and it’s been that way for far too long? It’s so normalized into our society that fat is out and thin is in that you may not know that there was a time, as I do nearing age 70, when norms were otherwise, back in the days of zaftig beauties like Marilyn Monroe and Jayne Mansfield.   I discuss body image often with clients and sometimes with friends, and have come to recognize two unequal perspectives about being large in our culture. The first is to shrug and say that these are the norms and that all we can do is ......
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Please Stop Calling It Comfort Food

SAD GIRL WITH BUBBLE Image by Debbie Digioia   As an eating disorders therapist, I am so done with hearing the term “comfort food.” I’m not only sick and tired of it, but I’m frustrated and angry that we’re still using this misnomer, if there ever was one, and about how it’s affecting our mental and physical health. As a therapist—mostly on the binge and mindless eating end of things—I can say without qualification that the troubled eaters who come to my office and read my books, do not get much genuine comfort from eating these foods.   The Merriam-Webster online definition of “comfort” includes: “strengthening aid, support, consolation in time of trouble or worry, solace, a feeling of relief or encouragement, contented well-being, a satisfying or enjoyable experience.” (https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/comfort) Let’s take a look at these definitions one at a time. Does eating non-nutritious food when you’re not hungry but have a case of the blahs or the blues reall......
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Eat Better by Aligning Behavior with Your Values

What do you value in life? Whatever it is can help you change your thinking and behavior around self-care, including food and fitness. Success psychology (yes, there is such a thing) and motivational inquiry both tell us that an effective approach to improving behavior is to tie it to what you hold dear and think important above all else, because then what you value becomes the generator for the behaviors you engage in.   Don’t confuse values with goals. We may or may not meet goals, but we generally keep our values no matter what happens. Losing weight specifically for your son’s wedding is a goal (not one I’d endorse), whereas valuing health so you can stick around as long as possible is a value. For instance, if you value staying physically active, even if you can’t do what you used to do (whether from age or injury), you find ways to keep......
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You Can’t Solve a Problem Until You Label it Correctly

One of the biggest and most costly mistakes people make is expending mega energy trying to solve a problem they’ve totally mislabeled. Of course, most of the time, they don’t realize that they’ve made a major blunder in how they’re viewing the problem. They just keep on trying one solution after another or the same one over and over, but never get anywhere. Here’s an example of what I’m talking about:   Say, Joanie has been struggling for decades to get her husband Ben to understand how hard she’s been trying to lose weight but can’t seem to stay on a diet. She wants his support and he just keeps telling her that she lacks self-control and that something must be wrong with her if she can’t stick to a diet. He shares his happiness about her losing weight and his disappointment when she puts it back on. She defines the problem as, “I ca......
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How Your Choice of Mate May Affect Your Health - and Your Eating

Clients often complain about stress eating and their problems with their mates in the same breath, but fail to recognize a possible correlation between the two. According to “9 ways your mate can affect your health” by Candon Sagon (AARP Bulletin, 10/16, p. 32-34), the man or woman you live with may impact your health—for better or for worse. Moreover, says sociologist Hui Liu of Michigan State University: “For men, the quality of marriage seems less important. But only a good marriage is good for a woman’s health.” Here are the negative impacts described in the article: “Your spouse’s depression could raise your own risk of chronic pain.” This conclusion includes the caretaking of a depressed mate. Although a female nagging her male partner may improve his health, this isn’t true the other way around. For women, “nagging is just nagging.” It can enhance your health as a female, if your partner is optimistic. ......
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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.